Quitting the Final Addiction

I hope today's post will be of interest to all those who have overcome or want to overcome an addiction whether it's to alcohol, drugs, sugar, overeating, gambling...
I have already done my time in hell hitting bottom with alcohol and drugs, and then getting clean and sober. No easy feat, but my Higher Power did it for me I believe. By myself I am helpless and hopeless,but I believe I can do it with a power higher than myself: Good old HP.

I also have to contend with adult attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder, also under control today.

Now I'm going for the big one, the one that can make grown people yell for their mommas it's so hard. The one that people try to break free of over and over again usually until they finally succeed, usually after years of attempts that didn't get the job done.

No, I'm not talking about heroin or even it's more tenacious cousin, Methadone. I'm getting very close to quitting smoking. They say in Overeaters Anonymous that breaking the addiction to food is rough because you still have to eat every day. That's sort of how I feel about smoking. It is part of my life from the minute I wake up till when I go to bed that night.

I smoke with my morning coffee and with my afternoon and evening tea and Diet Coke. I smoke on the phone, when talking to someone in person, after a meal, when I'm writing, proofreading or editing; when I'm worried or just want to unwind and relax. I smoke when I see or read of someone lighting up a cigarette, even fictional characters in novels. I light up when I read the mail, take a break from housework or get aggravated. I smoke when I feel good and when I feel lousy. I stuff my negative feelings like resentment, anger and irritation with somebody by having a cigarette. And I always light up one of my Marlboro Lights when I think about quitting smoking. Fear causes me to smoke too, and I am so afraid of all the unhappy consequences I will endure with a cigarette jones. 

I'm quite sure it's easier for an alcoholic to give up their best friend, booze, or a drug addict to "just say no" (Yeah, right) than it is to give up the old coffin nails, cancer sticks, fags, or a regular smoke (as opposed to a joint) than it is for a long-time smoker to live without nicotine.

There is a Nicotine Anonymous 12-step program, but I go to enough self-help meetings and I'm convinced that sitting around a table with other former smokers talking about cigarettes, smoking and how much we want just one, would make me want to smoke something fierce.

I also am against nicotine aids for myself. Now they are saying that the quit-smoking drug Chantix kills people. I've heard many times of people using the Nicorette gum and then staying on it for years, unable to cut that nicotine addiction. Same goes for patches, electric cigarettes, chewing tobacco and snuff. I am not interested in trading in my smoking addiction for something new I can be a slave to. I have been nicotine's bitch far too long to want to continue with that as my master

Get this: I'm so messed up I once quit smoking for ten years, and returned to it.  I enjoyed being a non-smoker and tasting my food, not having to be distracted by cravings, able to exercise without getting winded, not having to worry if I'll get COPD or lung cancer every single day, and being able to sit through movies without having to miss a part of them.

Ten long years, often fighting the "I'll just have one" lie, and I ended up smoking again as though I'd never quit. To be fair, I was going through a horrendous divorce and custudy battle and bipolar disorder was settling  and causing me to lose my sanity. Still I regret the relapse, as every addict regrets a relapse, and the return to an active addiction.

I also quit for four years after that relapse which lasted years. I went back to my lover cigarettes even after having 1,460 days to think about it. It's madness.

Quitting smoking has been my number one written out goal on every goal-setting list since I last relapsed after the four years around 12 years ago. I'm sick of seeing it on those lists. I have been able to successfully meet quite a few of my other goals, including losing a substantial amount of weight, but that one is a perennial that blooms anew on each list.  I want to draw a line through it in the worst way.

Something happened recently that convinced me it was time to quit. I found an ashtray full of cigarette butts in my son's room one day when I went in there to open a window. He may be 21-years-old and an adult, but the idea of him starting smoking when I am so desperate to quit, and the fact that he's heard enough about the evils of smoking all his life into his adulthood made me very depressed. My daughter just quit three weeks ago. I faced the fact that I am a bad influence. I don't think my son smoked before he moved in with me last November. The kid doesn't even drink.

I confronted him on the butts and he told me some whopper about just getting rid of butts he didn't smoke himself, but he did admit to smoking at work. Smoking is smoking--it's like saying you're just a little bit pregnant. You're either pregnant or you're not. Any way you look at it, he was opening himself up to the worst addiction I've ever known. He claims he will stop now, but I already found out he lies about it.

I am a terrible influence. He asked me when he first moved in to not smoke so much in the house because it was bothering him. Know what I told him? Hitler Youth and assorted fascists have not allowed me to smoke in restaurants, stores, offices, theaters, hospitals, hotels, elevators or even at bus stops out in the open under the big blue sky. My home was my last refuge as a place where I could smoke in peace and, by God, I wasn't giving up that freedom for him or anybody else. What a loving, nuturing mother, eh? Putting my own wants and needs above the legitimate wants and needs of my own son. I deserve to get emphysema and carry around an oxygen canister for years until I turn blue and die.

So I'm going cold turkey any day now. I don't know exactly what day, because I'm too chicken to put a big red "Q-day" on my day planner. I've done it that way before and when Q-day dawns I feel like the guard is locking my cell door.

My insurance gives me eight sessions of smoking cessation therapy with a doctor per year. I spent yesterday trying to locate one in my Zip code but all the phone numbers were wrong and I couldn't make an appointment. I plan to spend another morning trying again. I'm thinking that I might want to be hypnotized too for extra quitting insurance. I've heard of it working for some people, haven't you?

Another plus in my court is that I bought the number one quit smoking book that former smokers swear by and cannot write enough glowing reviews about on Amazon.com. The book is "The Easy Way to Stop Smoking," by Allen Carr. Carr has become the number one guru of quitting smoking. He has some 70 smoking cessation clinics around the country that offer a money back guarantee, ("without quibbling"), which I find incredible given the odds of smoking relapse. He also has a cheaper ($5.95), smaller book titled "The Little Book of Quitting Smoking." He used to smoke himself and only staffs his clinics with ex-smokers. I sure hope his book and website with locations of these money back clinics' five-hour seminars can help me Oh, forget that. Seminars are $350.

Here are some encouraging words from the website:

"Allen Carr's Easyway was founded in 1983. Since then an estimated 10m smokers have quit using his method. Allen Carr's Easyway seminar has the highest independently-evaluated success-rate in the quit smoking industry. It is endorsed by many doctors and dentists, but most of all by happy ex-smokers who have quit with us: over 80% of our seminar bookings are as a result of personal recommendation."

Oh well, I can't be one of the one million attendees who write that it was "fun" to quit with Carr's method, but I've got the book. Apparently the premise of the method is that you're not really "giving up" anything, you're choosing to become a non-smoker. So you, supposedly, can enjoy the experience of becoming a non-smoker. Whoo! I'm laughing and smiling already (I am so sure!).

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