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"Last night I was getting a burning sensation in my lungs. I actually thought I had lung cancer. I wasn't scared, surprised, or even upset. I was actually happy. I can't remember ever looking so forward to being diagnosed of having a terminal illness." This unusual statement was made to me by a clinic participant on her fourth day without smoking. While it sounds like the ravings of a severely depressed or mentally ill individual, in fact she was nothing of the sort. To the contrary, she was smiling and laughing when she said it.
What was the humor she saw in the statement? As soon as she said it to herself the night before, she realized the pain she was experiencing was the same complaints she heard three other people describe earlier that day at her clinic. It was a normal part of the healing process from quitting smoking. She also recognized the fact that she was not looking forward to a debilitating illness and a early demise. She was looking forward to taking a cigarette. When the pain started she rationalized that as long as she had lung cancer already, she might as well smoke. Then she realized she was looking forward to cancer. At that point she recognized just how morbid her thought processes had become. Not because she was quitting smoking, but because she was an addict was she capable of thinking in such depraved terms. Upon recognizing the absurdity of the situation, she laughed off the urge and went to bed.
It is important to remember just how irrational your thoughts were when you too were a smoker. As a smoker you were constantly warned of the dangers through the media, physicians, family, friends who quit, and most importantly, your own body. Not a week goes by when you were not being bombarded by the constant annoying message that smoking was impairing and killing you. But being the obedient addict you were, you disregarded these pestering outside influences to obey your true master--your cigarette. As Vic, the participant in my first clinic once stated, "Everywhere I turned I was being warned about cigarettes. Newspapers reports and magazines articles constantly reinforced that cigarettes were deadly. Even bill boards advertising cigarettes carried the Surgeon General's warning signal. Every time I'd reach for my pack, a warning label stared me in the face. It was only a matter of time before I reached the only logical conclusion. I quit reading!"
The control cigarettes exert on you when you are in the grip of the addiction is complete. It makes you say and do things that when observed by outside observers makes you look weak, stupid or crazed. At the same time it robs you of your money, health and eventually life. Once free of cigarettes you can recognize all these symptoms of your past addiction. To avoid ever living such a miserable existence - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!
The reaction experienced here of sudden out of control use of cigarettes after getting off another drug is the rule not the exception. Many if not most people in recovery from other addictions increase their level of smoking and in fact, I have encountered plenty of people over the years who first took up smoking when in drug treatment programs for other dependencies. Here is a comment from the string Alcohol - can people quit smoking and still drink alcohol? that discusses why this often happens, as well as a couple of video links that discuss this issue:"But somehow 3 months after I quit being a Meth Addict.. I realized that now I was a pack a day smoker!
How'd that happen? I didnt care.. I felt like my cigarettes were my sanity to get me through the meth addiction"
|People in recovery from other addictions||Dial up |
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|"What bad habit should I replace it with?"||1.86mb||18.4mb||0.75mb||05:04||10/02/06|
|From: Joel.||Sent: 3/16/2002 6:05 PM|
| As in the post above, comments are coming to me via email that many of our posts have a heavy drinking influence about them. It appears that some people may get the impression that drinking is condoned as an alternative behavior to smoking. It used to be where you would go to AA meetings and it would appear that everyone was smoking. I personally encountered numerous people who went into alcohol treatment programs as never smokers and who came out of treatment heavy addicted smokers. It was obvious that their encouraged behavior was a direct crutch replacement. We don't want anyone to get the same impression about drinking as a replacement to smoking. I want this statement to be perfectly clear...DO NOT INCREASE DRINKING OF ALCOHOL IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM NOW THAT YOU HAVE QUIT SMOKING. |