Romancing the Drug, Recognizing the Junkie

Romancing the Drug, Recognizing the Junkie

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

10 Mar 2004, 21:28 #1

Top of the morning to all the newbies, goldies, and everybody in between. As usual I'm thrilled to be sharing another nicotine-free day with all of you.

I'd like to write in this morning as a way of pausing on the trail and looking forward and back and thinking a little bit about what's behind and what's ahead. I think it's good and helpful to compare notes on this weird, wonderful journey....

At two months plus a week I feel radically different than I did at two weeks, or at two days:

At two days of quit I was completely overwhelmed with emotion and wonder at the strange amazing thing I was doing. I saw,
touched, tasted everything as for the first time. But under that bright sheen of wonder and fear and amazement was a thick and continuous river of desire for a cigarette. It was there every waking moment, and waking moments were many as I was only sleeping a few hours a night.

At two weeks I was over the physical withdrawal, but the wonder and fear--and the desire--were still coming strong and fast. There was a big difference though: instead of a never ceasing river of desire for nicotine there were starting to be holes. Big islands of time when I wouldn't want to smoke at all. Mind you, I was still thinking about smoking a great deal. But living life without punctuation every event, emotion, and lull with a cigarette was starting to seem natural and normal.

At one month I hit a batch of serious craves. I was low, I was slow, I was miserable, and I was feeling like taking a cigarette would make it go away. Take heed now anyone reading this but especially people who are maybe at such a point right now: I wish, so much, that I could convey to you what happened when I toughed out that batch of cravings. It seemed insurmountable, but with the help of the Board, the Library, and most importantly the one day at a time philosophy (PRICELESS WISDOM) I endured it. And afterwards, the most amazing thing: a sense of deep, fathomless tranquillity overtook me. It lasted, literally, for days. Having beaten the tough triggers I experienced what I think now must have been my first taste of true comfort. I wish you could see this through my eyes. I would cheerfully have endured cravings 20 times as intense, if I had known what calm was waiting on the other side. Take this to heart please. You can do whatever you want, but take this to heart.

At two months things are looking seriously different. The novelty has worn off, but every day is as precious as those strange initial days when I and the world were new together. When my mind forgets that I just bring it back to the thought, gently, like a wayward animal. My days now are characterized by vast stretches of time when I don't even think of a cigarette. I have gone from craving continuously to craving frequently to a situation where I don't crave at all for days, then hit a small batch of obstacles, then don't crave again for days. When I hit one of these rough patches the feeling is different: it's more cerebral. I can feel the junkie thoughts ascending from the brutal, visceral reptile-brain level, through the emotional level, up to the detached intellectual level. And so long as I don't take a cigarette they will stay there forever: in the land of abstraction and passing thoughts. Something there one moment and gone the next. But the vividness remains.

I am not out of the woods yet. I have a big problem with romanticizing the drug. Now as John says this is different than triggers, which you generally go through once and then you are reconditioned and it's one less hurdle, forever. This is a deep and nasty trick that your conscious mind gets up to, that I still struggle with a fair amount. That is: there will be these sudden vortices of thought and emotion, where I just WANT IT SO MUCH. To take a cigarette seems the sweetest, most wonderful, most poignant and deep pleasure that could ever be. I think back to all the good times that cigarettes and I have had together and I feel nostalgic, and covetous. And sad.

What can I say about this (besides recognizing it as bald unadulterated junkie thinking, and understanding that the good times would have been just as good without the cigarettes?)? I mean, it's tough. When I enter such a spell I read for hours in the library, and I may still feel just as intensely nostalgic after an hour of reading as I did to start out with. Such a thoughts sinks its claws into you and stays for a spell. What can I say about it? Only this: that it ain't nothing compared with what I was going through two months ago, or even a month ago.

My addict brain wants me to believe that these romantic yearnings are just as bad as the day I stopped smoking. It wants to blow these episodes out of proportion.

Well, I'm not having any of it: my life as an ex-smoker is getting easier every day, and, most importantly, everything I have endured since I quit is 4987345934875 times better than what life would be like if I were smokin' still. Make that an even 4987345934900. Image

Well. If you are still reading this then my kudos to you as a master of patience. I'm so happy to be doing this. I am growing so much and learning so much. For the first time in my adult life I am embracing both real responsibility and real wildly rampant childish lust for existence. I wanted to stand on my tip-toes and try, in my sincere and clumsy way, to let people know who are not so far along on this road as I am, that it's just getting better and better. Take heart!!!

Start each day by deciding that just for today you won't take a cigarette!!! End each day by warmly congratulating yourself on a job well done.

My best wishes to all,


75 days, 1500 or so cigarettes not smoked. Wow.
Last edited by GreenSolveg on 03 Jul 2009, 12:42, edited 1 time in total.

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

10 Mar 2004, 22:03 #2

Erica, although every recovery experience is uniquely different the basic path is the same for all. In my Imagemind you're right where most of us were. Although you've provided an excellent summary of where you've been, what's just up ahead is most amazing - a waking daily expectation of going your entire day without once wanting for nicotine.

A quick question to ponder, Erica, regarding a point you raise that seems to be fairly common about this time. Is it fair to say that smoking nicotine was not only associated with the good and special moments in life but also with the most horrible moments we've ever experienced? If so, do we blame and fault nicotine for making life's worst moments the horror they were? Then why credit nicotine for making life's best moments good? Isn't it just possible that hundreds and hundreds of life's special moments may have been even more special if we hadn't had to interrupt and excuse our self from them so that we could go find an appropriate place to feed a mandatory chemical need? Food for thought!

You're doing fantastic, Erica. There's still only one rule - no nicotine today!



Links to "romancing the drug" articles:

"Boy, do I miss smoking!"

"Maybe I can become a social smoker"

"I have to smoke because of all my stress"

"I got through a month without smoking!
Boy, I deserve a cigarette for that!"

"But smoking was the only vice I had left..."

"I'm mad that I can't smoke anymore!"

"I'm dying for a cigarette!"

"I want one..."

"Maybe I'm different"

"Maybe I can't quit"

I smoked because I was self-destructive

"I smoked because I liked smoking!"

"I smoked because I loved smoking!"

"I smoked because I liked the flavor"

If cigarettes were as deadly as you say they are...

"I was never much of a smoker anyway"

"And I probably wasn't even addicted"

"If they ever cure lung cancer, I'd go back to smoking."

Maybe this isn't the best time to quit?

"My cigarette were my friend"

"Things just don't seem to be improving!
I think about them all the time!"

"The urge is here again"

"I sure miss the joys of smoking"

"I'll just sneak one litte puff, I've earned it"

"I think I have decided to go back to smoking"

"I know I can quit again"

"I will quit when ..."

I've tried everything to quit and nothing works

I liked my other support group more

Just think about something else?

Fixating on a cigarette

Tearing down the wall

Last edited by John (Gold) on 04 Jul 2009, 11:14, edited 5 times in total.

BillW Gold.ffn
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

10 Mar 2004, 23:08 #3

Hi Erica!

Thats a great summary! And you are now at 4987345934900 ....

.... which means you're probably only a few days from a nice, round 5000000000000! Congratulations!

YQB and fellow math junkie BillW .... now passing about 10^20....

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:04

10 Mar 2004, 23:58 #4

Wow, Erica...that was awesome. I read every word and believe this will become a classic. "Romancing the Drug"...I'm already doing it.

9 days

IrishLotus GOLD
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:02

11 Mar 2004, 00:14 #5

Hey there Erika...I have a thought that helped me in the early stages of my quit to overcome my romance with nicotine. It is this simple:

I needed to accept that there WERE "good" cigarettes. I couldn't deny it. In fact, I could probably name several instances when a cigarette was indeed the perfect punctuation for the event. Sittin around the campfire with my friends and family on a warm, starry night, sippin on an ice cold brew and takin long slow drags off my Marlboro Light. Drivin down the highway through the vast Texas countryside with the windows down on a beautiful summer's day... I remember, I truly enjoyed that ahhhhh feeling...

The thing is Erika, those were two instances out of the approximately 60,000 that I've smoked in my lifetime. Image The rest were mandatory drug feedings occurring about every 20-30 minutes during every waking hour of my life. You know the ones...chain smoking while staring mindlessly at the tv, or taking a long drive. Standing in the freezing cold, pouring rain, missing life to get your fix. Thousands smoked one after the other while out drinking with friends or mourning the death of loved ones...and on and on and on.

There's a saying around here:
"I'd rather be an ex-smoker who occasionally thinks about a cigarette, than a smoker who constantly thinks about quitting."
That saying got me through the nostalgia, Erika. You see, I know in my heart that I truly do miss the "good" cigarettes. However, I also know that I can't have those without the 60,000 that go with them. I am a nicotine addict and there is no such thing as "just one".

Keep up the good work quit're right, it only gets better!

ImageLotus~ Free and gratefully healing for 1 Year, 5 Months, 2 Weeks, 21 hours, 13 minutes and 56 seconds (532 days). I have saved $3,996.62 by not smoking 15,986 cigarettes. I have saved 1 Month, 3 Weeks, 4 Days, 12 hours and 10 minutes of my life.
Last edited by IrishLotus GOLD on 22 Jun 2009, 13:16, edited 1 time in total.

BillW Gold.ffn
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

11 Mar 2004, 00:19 #6

Hi Erica:
At a little more serious level than my last post, see
Is Relapse a Natural Part of the Addiction Process?
Have you noticed some of these "lost" long-term quits?
and another post of Joel's that I'm looking for... Can't seem to find it now, because I remember it as the "Barbara Streisand The Way We Were" post:
Memories, may be beautiful, and yet...
What's too painful to remember....
We simply choose to forget!
YEP, thats the danger! We forget the bad about smoking, and remember the "Good"
Would you like to do it all again???
Could We??
Should We???
One puff... and we do it all again!
YQB BillW Two years, one month, two days. 22832 cigarettes not smoked, saving $4,566.58. Life saved: 11 weeks, 2 days, 6 hours, 40 minutes.
Last edited by BillW Gold.ffn on 10 Nov 2009, 13:33, edited 1 time in total.

Parker GOLD
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

11 Mar 2004, 00:28 #7

Erica, what a good description of your journey. I don't think it is possible to overemphasize that with time this gets easier. The hard parts lessen in intensity and frequency as time passes.

For me, any romancing of the drug was counteracted by vivid memories of how desperately I longed to be free from active addiction after decades of smoking. I deliberately called up the daily anxieties about mouth cancer, lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes. I made myself remember the sound of my wheezing and how my car, clothes, hair, house and poor defenseless cats and dog stank. I reflected on how many hours of my life I had spent making sure I had enough cigarettes, finding matches, and emptying ashtrays. I counted up the multitude of broken promises about quitting tomorrow, next week, by my next birthday, etc.

After reflecting on all of that the thought of that one puff didn't seem very desirable anymore. That was one of my tricks for dealing with junkie thoughts.

That's a beautiful quit you are growing for yourself, Erica!

ImageParker - free & healing for 21 months

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:04

11 Mar 2004, 00:46 #8

Thanks Erica. Once again another interesting post. And I was (AM) so happy at this start of my 4th weekImage. It is a nice summary ... although I don't look forward to strong craves next week (I know, I know were all different in out quit). So far, thanks to posts like this one, I haven't been caught off guard and I have been able to make it through all craves and look back and say: "see, it wasn't that bad, we can do this"- the we being myself and the rest of the Freedomites. It is so worth it and I appreciate how you make it sound so worth it.

Ted - 21 Days, 315 cigarettes not consumed, almost 50 bucks saved.

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:04

11 Mar 2004, 00:53 #9

Great post, Erica!
It sure sums up the beginning stages of our quits. I think it's helpful for newbies to read this, since it proves what everyone keeps saying..."It gets easier and easier as you go."
Thanks for sharing with us.
Cyndi Image
Four months, two days, 9 hours, 53 minutes and 28 seconds. 863 cigarettes not smoked, saving $368.01. Life saved: 2 days, 23 hours, 55 minutes.
Last edited by Canadiangirlcyndi on 03 Jul 2009, 12:58, edited 1 time in total.

Alyson GOLD.ffn
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

11 Mar 2004, 05:17 #10

Hi Erica,
Thanks for the thoughtful post!

While I don't post often anymore, I try to drop by Freedom as much as I can to reinforce my own quit of course but mainly to witness recovery. I continue to find the journey out of nicotine enslavement, my own and that of others, absolutely fascinating and inspiring.

I want to reply to you here because in addressing the romance of smoking you're hitting on one of the keys of my own recovery, BREAKING the GLAMOUR. A glamour is a magic spell put on someone or something to conceal the true nature in a more attractive form. Once I was beyond actively craving the drug, I forced myself to look at the delivery method more objectively. And it was like something out of the Matrix. The glamour broke and I woke up to the truth of my slavery!

The fact of smoking is pure science fiction! People smoking are simply humans feeding on a drug. What is there to covet? Are you nostalgic to ignite a tube of chemical-soaked weeds wrapped in chemical-soaked paper and **** in the toxic fumes? That's all that smoking is. Drug feeding.

Ask any child or never-smoker what they think of smoking. The next time you're around a smoker, try to observe through their pre-addiction innocence for a moment and really see what's going on.

It's been a pleasure watching you reclaim your life, Erica. Enjoy the comfort - it'll just get better and better!
Celebrating freedom,
I am
20+ months