Once off and running it's important to keep in mind that recovery is a journey not an event. Online at Freedom and Turkeyville, our support groups, we often see those in early recovery growing impatient.
"Why am I still craving?" "When will comfort come?"
Some endure a substantial degree of self-inflicted anxiety by intense focus upon the question, "How long will it take for the wanting, urges, cravings and challenges to end?"
First, as detailed in Chapters 11 (Subconscious Recovery) and 12 (Conscious Recovery), challenge reflects healing and is good, not bad. If related to subconscious conditioning, you are engaged in use cue extinguishment and about to be rewarded with the return of a time, place, person, location, activity or emotion during which you'd conditioned your mind to expect a new supply of nicotine.
If your challenge is related to conscious fixation upon thoughts of wanting, it's an opportunity to challenge, with truth, the junkie thinking bantering about inside your mind. The sooner we let go competely, the sooner we can move on.
Back to the question of "how long" must the newbie remain composed, restrained and deligent before calm, quiet and easy arrives? I like to think in terms of the time needed to fully heal a broken bone, but with substantial variation from person to person, as every recovery is different.
In regard to psychological recovery, while some are able to quickly let go and put their relationship with nicotine behind them, others will insist on clinging to varying use rationalizations for months. Some even longer.
Still, the ultimate result is the same for all. Patience transports us here to "Easy Street," where we begin experiencing entire days without once thinking about wanting to use. While here, occasional thoughts of wanting to use will gradually become so infrequent, brief and mild that they become laughable.
When it happens, it may begin to feel like our one challenge and day at a time recovery philosophy has outlived its usefulness. But Joel cautions us not to abandon it.
He warns us that, like never-users, ex-users experience horrible days too. Also, negative memory suppression (both of the daily grind of life as an actively feeding addict and the challenges of withdrawal and recovery) will foster a growing sense of complacency.
If allowed, it can leave us feeling and dealing with temptation in social situations. We will each some day experience tremendous stress at home or work, and we will each have loved ones who will eventually die.
The next few minutes are all within your immediate control and each is entirely do-able. The decisions, if any, made during those minutes are yours to command.
Strive to find contentment in today's freedom and healing. Celebrate at last being free. It took years to walk this deeply into dependency's forest. Is it realistic to think that we can walk out overnight? Patience. You'll soon be doing easy time.