Once we decide to make an attempt, imagine turning our imaginary "friend" into an imaginary "foe." Imagine inventing destiny controlling monsters and demons that make successful recovery all but impossible.
The most famous smoking rationalization book is "The Easy Way to Stop Smoking" by the late Allen Carr of England.
We lost Allen to lung cancer on November 29, 2006 at age 72. Like me, Allen was a former thirty-year smoker. Ending his five pack-a-day dependency clearly contributed to buying him another 26 years of life.
Allen's book focuses almost exclusively on a single aspect of recovery, using honesty to demolish and destroy smoking rationalizations. Yet, more than 40 times he teaches readers that successful recovery involves killing "monsters" that reside within.
I wrote a smoking rationalization article in early 2000 that I entitled "Nicodemon's Lies." Clearly the the title suggests demon involvement. It wasn't long before Joel set me straight.
I first read Allen's book in May 2006 and found myself chuckling at all the references to monsters. Imagine two ex-smokers, an ocean apart, inventing and blaming continuing captivity on demons and monsters.
While Allen's work has helped millions to critically analyze their smoking justifications, there are no monsters and there is no Nicodemon. There never was.
Nicotine is simply a chemical. Like table salt, it cannot think, plan, plot or conspire and is not some monster or demon that dwells within. The fact that nicotine has an I.Q. of zero is reason for celebration.
Although nicotine activates brain dopamine pathways, causes up-regulation of receptors and creates durable memories of how wanting gets satisfied, recovery is not some strength or willpower contest.
In fact, we will never be stronger than nicotine. We don't need to be. Our greatest weapon has always been our infinitely superior intelligence, but only if put to work.
As Joel puts it, although nicotine is the addictive chemical, it is "no more evil than arsenic or carbon monoxide or hydrogen cyanide - all chemicals found in tobacco smoke." It is the mind's design that generates crave episodes, not some evil force.
According to Joel, terms such as Nicodemon or monster "make nicotine seem to have more power than it actually does. The personification given to it can make an individual feel that nicotine has the potential of tricking him or her into smoking. An inanimate object such as a chemical has no such power." "People do not overcome the grip of chemical addictions by being stronger than the drug but rather by being smarter than the drug."
"Lets not give nicotine more credit than it is due," writes Joel. "Lets not make it some cute and cuddly or evil and plotting entity. It is a chemical that alters brain chemistry. It is no different than heroin, cocaine or alcohol."
"These drugs don't have cute names given to them and giving cute names to nicotine can start to make it seem different than these other substances -- more trivial or less serious in a way. Nicotine is not more trivial than other drugs of addiction and in fact kills more people than all other drugs of addiction combined."
Monsters and demons are inventions of the uneducated mind. We needed them to help explain a want and yearning we couldn't understand.
Nicotine is just a chemical. So long as it does not enter our bloodstream, there will be no need to invent explanations for its continued presence. Adherence to just one guiding principle will prevent the need to invent demons ... no nicotine today.