Are you trying to quit smoking, or are you struggling to avoid smoking cigarettes with just a little bit of “smoke-free” time under your belt? The cravings can be strong, and no one knows it better than those who take part in Nicotine Anonymous. The fellowship that develops at these meetings provides participants with support, encouragement and guidance – those who come to the meetings are advised to “take what you need and leave the rest.”
Would a 12-step program like Nicotine Anonymous help you quit smoking?
Quitting Smoking While Quitting Other Things
Some recommend that when there are multiple addictions present and smoking is one of them that quitting smoking should be the last thing you do. Why?
- Waiting allows you to focus on one thing at a time rather than spreading your efforts too thin.
- Quitting substances, gambling, dangerous sexual encounters, and other addictive issues is stressful, and what do most smokers reach for when they are stressed out? A cigarette.
- If you “slip” on one front (e.g., gamble or drink), you’re likely to throw in the towel on everything and take longer coming back to recovery.
- Long-term changes come with work. Overcome one issue, and it can give you the power and drive to make the next big change.
Is It Okay to Use Nicotine Withdrawal Aids While in Nicotine Anonymous?+
Most groups say it’s okay. Unlike other 12-step groups, there is a wide berth given to those who use aids that are designed to help them stop smoking, like:
- Nicotine patches
- Nicotine gum
- Medication designed to abate cravings
- Any combination of the above
How Do the 12 Steps Improve Your Ability to Avoid Smoking?
For many, there are emotional issues behind their addiction to cigarettes and other tobacco products. Like other substances, people originally begin using it to:
- Fit in
- Kill boredom
- Fight stress
- Deal with tough times
- Enhance the creative process
The 12 steps help you work through the cravings, determine what it is that smoking cigarettes did for you emotionally and mentally, and give you the opportunity to find healthy alternatives.
Karen’s Story: Having a Sponsor Helped Me Quit Smoking
I stopped drinking and using drugs eight years ago, and it was hard – but nothing was harder than quitting cigarettes. It’s physically addictive. It’s mentally addictive. I had cravings that were way worse than I experienced when using drugs and drinking. When I did drugs, I withdrew from everyone and just did drugs, but smoking – I did that all the time, even after I was sober.
Can I Drink or Do Drugs While I Quit Smoking?
Unlike other 12-step programs designed to address addiction to alcohol or illicit substances, it is not required that participants in Nicotine Anonymous be completely clean and sober from all substances – though many are.
I tried to quit on my own maybe a dozen times during my first eight years of sobriety, but it wasn’t until I started going to Nicotine Anonymous meetings that I started to progress. It worked for alcohol and drugs, why not for cigarettes? It was having a sponsor that really helped. Mine was great about me calling 20 times a day at first; every time I craved a cigarette and wanted to climb the walls, I called him and he’d help me remember what I was doing it for and help me redirect. Without that support, I don’t think I could have made it through.
Replacing Cigarettes With Positive Choices
When you smoke, cigarettes and smoking are woven into the fabric of your day. You may not realize just how many situations trigger the urge for a cigarette until you try to quit. When you no longer have cigarettes in your life, you suddenly find a lot of gaps or holes that you now have to fill. What do you do at work when everyone else takes a smoke break? What do you do when you have your morning coffee or after a meal? What about when you’re driving or feel stressed out or sad? How can you avoid smoking when you’re out drinking?
A big part of leaving cigarettes behind forever is finding new and healthful things to replace your smoke breaks. Smoke breaks at work turn into a 10-minute walk or sitting outside with a book or a game on your phone. Multitask during the other activities that once included smoking; take up something that keeps your hands busy like knitting, wood working or painting. Try different things until you find something that works for you.
Would you like to find a mental health treatment program that incorporates the 12 steps and groups like Nicotine Anonymous? Call us to find the best options for you.
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