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 "I'd quit 1000's of times, then..."  

By Freedom's Goldest Goldie

  Poppa Jim  

I have to wonder just how many times I quit smoking.   I became addicted to nicotine and never even realized until it already happened.  The definition of addiction is simple; somewhere along the line I lost the power of choice over whether or not I would smoke.

I remember many times when I hacked my way through one more, hating the taste or smell, swearing that it would be different when I quit.................. tomorrow.  I remember the emotional turmoil of another 'quitting' day started. Within minutes of waking, knowing I'd regret it, and I'd light up anyway. 

I remember the anguish of having spent a few hours or maybe even a day or so without one.  I remember being totally obsessed with the idea of having one..... just one, it's all I need right now, and I'll stop again right away, just this one to take the edge off, to make it a little easier, to ease my way out slowly ... knowing that every rationalization was complete bull.  

That 'one' is all it ever took.  As soon as I lit that 'one', any choice was gone.  The day or hours spent was a wash.  The obsession before that 'one' was intensified after, and afterward there was always the rationalization that I'd already had one so I'd start fresh...... tomorrow.

Today I realize that the first one might as well be one thousand.  There's a difference between quitting, stopping, and surrendering to the addiction.  I quit thousands of times, but could never stop.  Someone who isn't addicted stops and doesn't even think about it.  For me, just the thought of stopping engulfed my mind in the obsession for another.  It was only when I surrendered to the idea that my addiction controlled me that I began to stand a chance at stopping.

As an actively addicted person, stopping forever was always a distant dream.  The happily-ever-after syndrome always failed because I'd forgotten how to live without cigarettes.  I had to treat the problem the same way any other drug addiction is treated. I had to forget 'forever' and just stay with the here-and-now.

I had to re-learn how to live life, and that meant taking things minute-by-minute sometimes.  I had to keep believing that keeping away from that first one was all I needed to worry about.  No matter what was happening, just a few minutes more and not have the first one.  The minutes turned to hours.  The hours turned to days - weeks - years.

Even today, there are times when someone lights up near me and the smell of it CALLS to me.  I'll finish a meal, and the old, familiar urge creeps in.  The addiction still tells me the same old lies.  "Just bum ONE from somebody.  One won't hurt."  Lies.  I do know this one truth.  It gets easier.  As time passes it's easier to recognize the addiction for what it is, and it gets easier to live my life without having that first one.

I can't escape the fact that I'm addicted any more than I can reverse the emphysema that resulted from my abuse of nicotine.  But at the start of my day (and any time when the obsession sets in) I can say a quick prayer to the good Lord for help to get past the need for that first one.  And at the end of the day I can say a quick prayer of thanks that I could make it through one more day where I'm not killing myself by my own hand.  

Another addicted person's understanding of a Higher Power might be different than mine, but I can only suggest they find a way to work that Higher Power into their life on a daily basis.  On a minute-by-minute basis if that is what they need.

These simple principles are used by alcoholics and addicts to recover from dire, life-threatening circumstances.  These principles state that the circumstances of addiction don't matter, it's what it does to someone.  I've come to recognize that my Higher Power reached out to me through people teaching me these principles, and this has saved my life.  Now, in accordance with those principles, I repay that kindness in the way that those people taught me.  Now I reach out to others and try to pass along a simple message. 

There is hope, and there is freedom.  To get here, I had to find a Power greater than myself, because setting myself as the highest power in life left me with an addict for a god.  The Higher Power that I see working in my life today helps me to LIVE life in ways I was truly meant to have lived it. 

All I can do is suggest. Try this for 90 days. If you aren't satisfied after that, I'll gladly refund double your misery.

Poppa Jim

October 1, 1999

  Quit Date: March 18, 1997 **Poppa Jim **  

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