You Are Not Alone
Most people who continue to use nicotine products do so because they cannot stop. Smoking tobacco is the most common method of nicotine delivery. Worldwide 47.5% of men and 10.3% of women smoke a total of 6 trillion cigarettes a year (World Health Organization, 2008).
If you desire to be nicotine-free, it may be comforting to know you have a lot of company. In 2000, 70% of U.S. adult smokers wanted to quit, and 41% had stopped smoking for at least one day during the preceding year in an effort to quit (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
It might be encouraging to learn that, since 1965, more than 49 percent of all adults who have ever smoked have quit” (American Heart Association, 2008). With our recovery program of mutual support, we have found a way to live nicotine-free, one day at a time.
What Is Nicotine?
According to the American Lung Association:
Why It Isn't Easy To Stop
It is now widely accepted that nicotine is an extremely addictive and mood-altering substance. However, one of nicotine’s baffling qualities is that its grip is not the same on everyone. Although there is genetic and biochemical research that describes some of the various and powerful effects of nicotine, such complex issues and controversies are outside of Nicotine Anonymous.
Some nicotine users may only have a behavioral habit, others are nicotine-dependent, while the vast majority experience the full-blown addiction where nicotine generates a physical compulsion combined with a mental obsession to continually use it. These effects may be masked by how easy it is to acquire and maintain an adequate supply. Often, only when a nicotine user “runs out” and he or she has to suddenly “run out” to get their drug in the middle of whatever they are doing, do the telltale withdrawal symptoms reveal the truth.
You can review the pamphlet Introducing Nicotine Anonymous for further information about the behavior patterns of a nicotine addict. Here are just a few reasons why it isn’t easy to stop using nicotine:
By the time nicotine users are ready to quit, they are not only physically hooked, they have had years of powerful psychological and cultural associations stored in their memory, which can act as familiar “triggers” to prompt the use nicotine.
Our use of nicotine made our lives unmanageable and most likely affected others. We have come to accept that nicotine addiction is a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual disease.
Nicotine use affected our behavior and attitudes. The continual desire for nicotine patterned our thinking and we believed we could not live without it. We invented many rationalizations and excuses to maintain our supply of nicotine.
The biochemical effects may have instilled a false sense of pleasure or control, but we were out of control. One puff or chew was too many, and a thousand were never enough.
Left to our own devices, we would have continued to destroy our bodies, suppress our feelings and alienate our families, lovers, and friends.
The Impact on Physical Health
Although our focus is on recovery, we are an honest program. We no longer live in denial of the dangers of nicotine.
More than 50,000 different scientific studies have documented that a direct link exists between tobacco use and disease. The Surgeon General said, “ . . . smoking represents the most exclusively documented cause of disease ever investigated in the history of biomedical research.
”The fatalities from tobacco are far greater than fatalities from all illegal drugs and alcohol combined. The worldwide toll from tobacco use is 5.4 million annually, and half of the smokers today will eventually die from tobacco-related diseases. At the current rate, the death toll is projected to reach more than 8 million annually by 2030 and a total of up to one billion deaths in the 21st century (World Health Organization, 2008).
According to the Surgeon General, cigarette smoking causes a long list of cancers as well as heart and lung diseases. In addition, women experience menopause 1 to 2 years earlier and smoking contributes to abnormal Pap tests and cancer of the cervix. It is associated with premature wrinkling, especially around the mouth and eyes. In both men and women, smoking may reduce sexual function.
For oral (e.g., chew, dip) tobacco users, the risk of cancer to the cheek and gum is nearly 50 times greater than non-users. (American Cancer Society, 1998)
Smoking also causes injuries and deaths due to house fires, forest fires, and various accidental incidents.
More studies are continually finding links to many other health problems.
The Impact Of Secondhand Smoke
Tobacco smoke is as dangerous to non-smokers as firsthand smoke is to smokers themselves (Oral Cancer Foundation, 2008). There are over 60 cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke (National Cancer Institute, 2007).
Although the number of American non-smokers exposed to tobacco smoke has dropped from 88% (1996) to 43%(U.S. Surgeon General, 2002), secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 46,000 heart disease deaths in adult nonsmokers in the United States each year (Cal EPA, 2005).
Parental smoking causes 2,800 deaths at birth and 2,000 deaths from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the United States annually (Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 1997).U.S. children exposed to tobacco smoke in the home have:
The American Journal of Epidemiology (1991) reported that:
Pregnant smokers increase the chances for mental retardation in their newborns by 75 percent (Pediatrics, Apr. 1994).
Dilution, ventilation, or air cleaning are all unacceptable methods for the control of the lung cancer or heart disease risks of secondhand smoke (OSHA, 1994). There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke (U.S. Surgeon General, 2007).
Awareness of these dangers become important in our Fourth, Eighth, and Ninth Step work.. Setting our “excuses” aside, we may identify various character defects that enabled us to smoke and disregard the health threat to others. A new awareness can lead us to make appropriate amends and promote our own spiritual healing.
Other Nicotine Delivery Systems
We offer a recovery program to gain freedom from nicotine. We accept that nicotine is a toxic, addictive substance that endangers our quality of life. According to our Tenth Tradition, “Nicotine Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues . . .” We neither endorse nor oppose any method or mechanism that delivers nicotine, e.g., nicotine gum or patches. Such issues are for each member to decide for himself or herself, but we are a fellowship of men and women helping each other to live our lives free of nicotine.
We seek clarity and honesty as part of our personal recovery, and unity of purpose for our common welfare. We support each other toward the goal of nicotine abstinence as we share the benefits of our individual journey toward a spiritual awakening.
What You Gain By Quitting
Although there may be lasting consequences from our past behavior, we find our recovery is well worth whatever lengths we must go to. We have found that we must remain honest and vigilant in our process if we are to remain nicotine-free. The steps of action we take give us the gift of recovery.
There are physical benefits. The Surgeon General’s 1990 Report, “The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation” reaches these major conclusions:
In addition to the many physical benefits, Nicotine Anonymous members also discover many other benefits when they become free of the demoralizing cycle of nicotine addiction. For example: