Together We Change
Many of us once thought that living without using nicotine was "just impossible for me." We may have thought there was just something wrong or weak about our character. We didn’t fully understand the power of nicotine.
At meetings we see and hear that we are neither unique nor alone. We discover our similar experience with this addiction and obsession. We support each other and share a common hope.
Our Fellowship offers sanity and strength to prepare us for, and then to live, the miracle of not having that "next" one. Your "impossible" becomes our "possible" as we each realize that, together, we change.
Keep Showing Up
One of the most important things active nicotine users can do after their first meeting is to keep showing up at the next meeting. Setting a date to stop using nicotine may not need to be the primary focus. Since a common trait we often have is to hide behind the prop and/or smoke of a "nicotine screen," showing up might be enough of a new behavior for the moment.
When we keep showing up we receive the shared courage and inspiration. Maybe for today we can't do the "big" thing but, if we're willing to do a "little" thing, we'll find hope we hadn't thought possible. Ask yourself, "What am I willing to do for this moment?" The answers create possibilities.
Even old-timers can keep showing up and make fresh discoveries. Willingness is the key that opens new doors for all of us.
Lengths Become Strengths
For most of us, our relationship with nicotine has been deep and wide. That is why we must become willing to go to any length to get and remain nicotine-free. Often, just becoming willing, shortens the length we need to go.
Those areas where we would rather stop short are often where we need to stretch forward. Each of us has our issues; each person decides for themselves. However, the more we stretch to a new length, the more strength we gain.
First Aid First
Whenever a craving threatens our life or a character defect jeopardizes our sanity, we respond by using this program’s first aid first. By practicing the Steps and using the tools that help us (meetings, phone list, literature, sponsor, and service), rather than the things that hurt us, we welcome the healing of recovery into our lives.
To Postpone it, Phone it
We can postpone our usual reaction to a craving if we pick up a phone and talk about what we're experiencing. We make the call to our sponsor, a member of our Fellowship, or anyone supportive we can reach. Waiting until we have done this first, we can then see how we feel.Using nicotine, we were visible but not always present. Using the phone, we can practice having conscious contact with others. When we let others offer this service, we help them enhance their recovery.
Quick Doesn't Stick
This program isn't about instant gratification. Recovery is a process we practice and requires some letting go and some learning. Over time we practice new behaviors in order to get new, lasting results.
Recovery improves our ability to respond, to become response-able. As we accept this process rather than a quick fix, we see that with practice we make progress.
I’m a Puff Away from a Pack a Day
Even a puff can get the body caught up in craving cycles. We can then be drawn back into the mental obsession, thinking we have a "need" we "must" satisfy. We may have imagined the "drag" as just a pleasure we chose to enjoy. However, once we started a day with that first puff, we couldn't stop. This has been our real experience.
A slip starts in our head before our hand reaches for the drug. If we romance it, we chance it. We must deal honestly with our sliding thoughts, or they will surely cause us to slip. We accept: Even a puff can blow me away.
"Thank you God, that I have known this smoke-free day to call my own. And tomorrow this I pray, Grant me one more smoke-free day."
Choose Faith Over Fear
As life offers change moment by moment, we are faced with a choice between faith and fear. We may be so use to just reacting to situations in one way that it doesn't seem we can choose our responses. Recovery teaches us that our behavior and attitude are choices. We can choose faith in a Higher Power instead of settling for dependence on a drug. With faith, we find the peace we sought but never found in all those packs we opened.
Smoking is Not an Option
As nicotine addicts, we all had our list of excuses and rationalizations to use this drug. We may have believed that using was simply a choice we made. Nicotine addiction is powerful and cunning. It interfered with our thinking, so using it became an irrational, compelling response to any and all experiences.
Over time, we discover the truth: Nicotine will not solve a single problem. With recovery we learn healthier and more effective options than using nicotine. The more we work this program, the more we accept that smoking is not an option anymore.
S.T.OP. = Simplify The Options
When we get stressed it is helpful to S.T.OP. and simplify the options. If we keep it simple, serenity can grace us. With serenity we want to inhale only clean air.
"Simple" is easier to maintain. "Complicated" either never gets started or eventually breaks down. Addicts tend to make things complicated, wanting to avoid certain "simple truths."
Recovery reminds us we can S.T.OP. and simply do the "next right thing." This is a gentle program.
Put a Little Prayer in Your Air
If a craving comes, put a little prayer in your air. If a shortcoming starts to lure, put a little prayer in your air.
Pausing, for even one deep breath, can change your attitude, shift a fixated thought. Our breath is a constant connection to life and can be a way to have conscious contact with a Higher Power.
Surrender Allows Change
Surrender, in this program, is not losing. Surrender is an acceptance, a release. As we let go we find a deeper strength. When we surrender, we become willing to change.
We might start by surrendering our excuses regarding showing up at meetings. Then, as we accept the first three Steps, we begin to let go of the one-on-one battle we've been losing. If we have resistance to religion, surrender may allow us to come to our own understanding of God.
Now we can turn this nicotine obsession over to our Higher Power. We may ask, "Please make it easy for this weak addict." We can ask for the mercy that nicotine never gave us.
With abstinence and time, the cravings lessen, but we also surrender to the truth that a desire may still arise. When we surrender the old battle, we gain serenity. With a sense of calm, we make sane choices that can change our life.
Prepare, Practice, Pray, Progress
The experience shared at meetings helps prepare us. The Twelve Steps and the tools of the program help us practice. We pray to have conscious contact with our higher beliefs. A day at a time, we can make progress.
Look for the Lesson
If we consider accepting the events of our day as lessons, we can learn. An open mind receives. The lessons delivered to us today may be about either acceptance, courage, humility, compassion or whatever issues we need to work on.
Our Higher Power offers us opportunities to learn how to apply the Twelve Steps and to "practice these principles in all our affairs."
Watch Your Steps
We accept that our disease is only in remission. We need to maintain constant vigilance so we don't reactivate our addiction. Our daily decisions remain guided by the Twelve Steps because each day is a gift.
We work our Steps and keep the focus on our own recovery, not on dispensing unsolicited advice or criticism toward others. As an addict, one must beware of slippery places, and consider this fellowship reminder to, "watch your Steps."
Pray and you may find:
The prayers we create for ourselves become a far better source of help than nicotine ever was. We can pray instead of puff. Within the privacy of our own mind and heart, we can pray anywhere. There aren’t any "No Praying" signs to keep us from having conscious contact.
The intimacy of personal prayer improves our relationship with ourselves and others. In this spirit, we develop deeper connections. Nicotine may arrive by paper, pipe, or pinch; recovery arrives by spiritual delivery.
The Weight Can Wait
We help the restoration of our sanity as we learn to determine our priorities. We want to deal with first things first. Many of us worry that when we stop using nicotine we will eat more and gain weight. This is an honest program. Often people do gain some weight. Our metabolism can change, and we may use food to relieve our cravings for a while. The physical and emotional effects of additional weight are important, but nothing is more important than not using nicotine. The health dangers from nicotine addiction far outweigh weight gain.
As we regain our senses we are often graced by desires to eat healthier foods and cleanse our system with plenty of water. Vigorous exercise can also help release the frustration and deprivation we may initially feel when we stop using nicotine.
Our priority is to stop putting nicotine into our body. Then many improvements become possible. So, in the beginning of our recovery, the worry about the weight can wait.
Dealing with the Feeling
When we used nicotine to shut off our feelings, it didn't make them go away. Often they became resentments. After we stop using nicotine we will, in time, discover more clearly how we feel. At first, however, emotions that were usually smoked away may now feel awkward, confusing, and even seem overwhelming.
We often discover we now feel differently about some things. Feelings, like anger and sadness, can be clear signals that a situation needs to be addressed. With the courage we ask for in the Serenity Prayer, we move forward, dealing with the feeling.
Recovery also provides us with the opportunity to feel new joys. An ongoing gratitude for this new freedom is an exhilarating experience.
Taking a Step is an Act of Faith
Walking is an act of falling forward with a faith that you will catch yourself with your next footstep. Sometimes we can take only tiny steps, but they start us past "stuck." We won’t know how far we will get or even to where, but any movement forward becomes an act of faith.
Working any of the Twelve Steps is an act of faith. The more we change, the more we realize the power in an act of faith. We are inspired into spirituality.
Don't Look To Graduate
Relapsing is an all-too-common experience. We've found it wise not to seek comfort in the thought that it would be impossible for us to ever use again. We realize remaining humble works best. The shared stories about relapses help remind us of the terrible price we'll pay if we misjudge the power of this cunning drug. We appreciate that we belong to an ongoing Fellowship that offers support and the opportunity to serve. We look to be grateful, rather than to graduate.
Maintain What's Gained
We did not do this alone. It is important that we do not slip into taking our gift of freedom for granted. Attempting to "coast along" alone, too many have slid back into the grasp of nicotine. If we remain connected to the tools and the reality of our powerlessness over nicotine, the better our chances to remain nicotine-free. The more we maintain, the more we gain.
Grateful for Grace
As we practice this program’s principles and receive the benefits, we become more grateful. As we obtain the wisdom to know the difference between what we can take care of and what is in the care of our Higher Power, we become more serene. As we learn more about our potential, we see more clearly how we have been graced in many ways.