i am a nicotine addict
i started choosing not to feed that addiction any more on november 19th, 2001. since then, i've seen many people start making that same choice, and then, a day, or a week, or a month or two or three months later, relapse and start choosing to feed their addiction again.
it doesn’t matter how many times temptation presents itself to you; all that matters is how you choose to respond to the temptation.
and it makes me wonder: why am i still quit when people that quit before me, or around the same time as i did, or after me, started choosing to feed their addiction again?
i think it's because i've finally recognized that i'm an addict.
after smoking for over thirty years and quitting so many times i can't even begin to count them, it finally registered: i am a nicotine addict. and as such, i am subject to the immutable laws of addiction, the first of which is: "administration of a substance to a person addicted to that substance, no matter how long it's been since that person stopped using that substance, will result in re-establishment of that person's dependence on that substance".
this is why alcoholics who want to remain sober can never take that first drink. in a recent study, it was determined that 95% of ex-smokers who smoke just one cigarette experience total relapse to their previous level of consumption (and, in many cases, to a higher level of consumption than before they quit).
my brother bob was an alcoholic (i say "was" because he died - of colon cancer - on december 4th, 1997). bob recognized that he was addicted to alcohol and that he was subject to the laws of addiction, and so, for the last ten years of his life, he chose, every day, not to feed that addiction. when someone would offer him a drink, he'd say, "i can't; i'm a drunk".
bob was also a nicotine addict. we started smoking around the same time, and he finally quit for the last time about seven years before he died. once again, it was his daily recognition of his addiction, his daily realization that he was subject to the laws of addiction, and his daily choice not to feed that addiction that kept him nicotine-free for the rest of his life.
the last time i remember seeing bob angry at me was some time during his last months; i had just come back in from smoking a cigarette and he was lying there in the hospital bed he'd never get out of. he said, "get off those god damn cigarettes before you end up here!" i told him i would.
and i finally have.
by following his example.
this morning, as soon as i got out of bed, i looked at my reflection in the mirror and recited my mantra:
i am a nicotine addict.
i cannot afford to feed that addiction. not even one time.
so, today, i choose not to smoke.
i've said these same words to my reflection every morning for the last 203 mornings.
and as soon as i had started the first pot of coffee brewing, i came to this desk, opened my quit journal, and wrote:
I am a nicotine addict.
I cannot afford to feed that addiction.
Not even one time.
- so -
Today, I choose LIFE!
Today, I choose HEALTH!
Today, I choose STRENGTH!
Today, I choose SELF-CONTROL!
Today, I choose FREEDOM!
Today, I choose NOT to smoke!
just as i have every morning for the last 203 mornings.
thomas jefferson said, "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance"; this is my way of practicing eternal vigilance. i highly recommend that you find a way to do the same that works for you. because addiction is eternal; once you've allowed yourself to become addicted to something, you will always be an addict, and the only choice is whether or not you're going to continue to feed that addiction.
last night i had two separate dreams in which i smoked; this is about the fourth time this has happened since i quit. a few days ago, i found myself reaching for a cigarette; i can't even tell you how many times this has happened since i quit. but it doesn't really matter. for me, these are the subconscious urges left over from thirty-plus years of habitually feeding my addiction, and i don't expect i'll ever be totally free of them. this is why eternal vigilance is so important.
it doesn't matter how many times temptation presents itself to you; all that matters is how you choose to respond to it.
i'd recommend that you choose life.
kevin - day 203