written in my 203rd day of freedom from smoking and originally posted on june 9, 2002; in this tale, i talk about how finally admitting to myself that i am a nicotine addict was such an important step for me to take in starting my recovery and maintaining my freedom.

i am a nicotine addict

2009 February 13

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:

6/9/02 Day 203

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

10 responses leave one →
  1. 2005 May 20
    daylee permalink

    Thank you for inspiring me. Tomorrow I will do what you have done everyday for 203 days. God bless you. Wish me luck and happiness. Sounds like you've got the happiness.

  2. 2006 January 26
    erin permalink

    Kevin (my son is name Kevin..one my favorite names)
    Thank you for all your courage and your writtings...
    It is most definately allowing me to accept who I am... I am nicotine addict and I no longer feed this addiction...
    erin 13days free

  3. 2006 August 19
    Marie permalink

    I especially like "I choose self-control and freedom." I get tired of feeling sad, craves, something's missing such as my best friend etc.,(so deceiving!!) and I almost want to say that I had just rather smoke and suffer the consequences, then I read your "tales"...Thanks

  4. 2009 February 13

    note: the comments above were left on the original tale at the date and time indicated.

  5. 2009 September 22
    richard permalink

    I am 18 days into choosing not to smoke after choosing to smoke for over 22 years....

    Your story is very similar to the technique i used as i couldn't face quitting for ever.. so every day i tell myself..

    Yesterday i chose not to smoke,
    Today and tonight i am choosing not to smoke and
    Tomorrow i will choose not to smoke.

    Even though i have the urge/craving to smoke i deeply and completely accept myself! repeat

    if anyone reads this and you are choosing not to smoke too, i hope this helps..

  6. 2009 November 2
    nick permalink

    The comments sure stretch back quite far. I am 21 and am addicted to nicotine. I quit countless times but always came back because I thought I was young and it didn't matter.

    I want to thank you for this encouraging tale. Never again will I feed my habit.

  7. 2010 November 24
    Jake permalink

    How inspiring.... I have quit traditional cigarettes, moved on to E-cigs, they have been a blessing but I would like to be free of nicotine altogether. I keep falling to my addiction but I will try your route, with the morning mantra and journal, I feel it could work. Most don't realize that quitting nicotine after smoking so long truly is like losing a loved one - it has been proven. Feelings of grief, sadness, something missing, but it is just DECEIVING you. This was posted a year ago, I hope it's been a year and 203 days since you've had a smoke. All the best to all that are trying/have quit.

  8. 2010 November 24

    thanks, jake - actually, it's now been over 9 years since i quit (my final quit date was november 19, 2001, and i just enjoyed my 9th anniversary of freedom from smoking 5 days ago).

  9. 2013 September 28
    Paula permalink

    I am a nicotine addict.

  10. 2013 October 16
    Sara permalink

    OMG! This is so true! I never looked at it this way, but I must be a addict! Why would I keep on smoking when I know how bad it is for me? If I wasn't an addict? This makes so much sense! Thank you!! :)

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