Imagine convincing ourselves that if we arrest our chemical dependency that our friends won't want to be around us, or that we won't be able to be around them.
The tobacco industry has spent hundreds of millions on subconscious marketing that burned ties between friends and smoking deeply into our minds.Yes, it takes a bit of practice getting comfortable around users. But extinguishing all use conditioning is a necessary part of healing.
According to Philip Morris research, over 85% of smokers strongly agree with the statement, "I wish I had never started smoking."
Secretly, most of our friends who use feel the same. They wish they knew how to stop. Imagine them soon having a friend who is both knowledgeable and skilled regarding nicotine dependency recovery.
Through use conditioning and association, most of us became convinced that nicotine use was central to our life, including friendships with other users.
While recovery means that we'll no longer use while with friends who do, no relationship whose foundation is deeper than shared drug use need be adversely affected by nicotine's absence.
Successful recovery need not deprive us of a single friend or loved one. On the contrary, tobacco use has likely cost us relationships. Fewer and fewer non-users are willing to tolerate being around the smells, smoke and stink. And oral tobacco use can be a major turn-off.
Aside from no longer using nicotine, our current lives do not need to change at all unless we want them to change. Mine did. I no longer sought situations that allowed me to feel comfortable smoking.
Fellow nicotine addicts don't normally try to make each other feel guilty for being hooked and using. In fact, there can be a very real sense of dependency camaraderie. We also serve as a form of "use" insurance for each other on those occasions when our supply runs out.
Obviously, I no longer frequented community ashtrays. In fact, for the first time in my adult life I found myself totally comfortable sitting beside non-users and ex-users for extended periods of time.
Gradually, yet increasingly, my circle of friends and acquaintances grew to include far more non-users and ex-users. It was as if my addiction had been picking friends for me.