Just one little puff
It is hard for many people to grasp the concept of how just one little puff can result in a full-blown relapse. It just doesn’t seem logical to some people. But to everyone who asks him or herself whether or not he or she can maybe smoke “just” one, think about what advice you would give to a family member or friend who you cared very much about and you knew was a recovering or heroin or cocaine addict and was for the first time in months or years was considering to try recreational use. Imagine your shock and horror, especially if you were with him or her when he or she was in the grips of the addiction, ruining almost every aspect of life and maybe even almost losing his or her life.
Would you say to him or her, “Well, maybe you are better now, maybe its worth finding out if you could handle just one?” Would you feel the need to do a little research in current journals to see if maybe one is an option, maybe even delve into a few neurological journals to see if the scientists now have a better grip on neurotransmitter pathways that could explain why addiction happens and then maybe say, “Well they are starting to understand a little more of how addiction works and maybe soon they can alter your brain physiology, so if you relapse it may be no big deal, a cure is around the corner, maybe only years away? Or would you cut through the rationalization and say, “If you do it you are going to be back where you were when you first had to quit?” You are going to mess up your life and everyone around you.
The odds are you would go the latter route. You would be horrified and take a firm stand that he or she shouldn’t do it; it would be stupid and even worse, suicidal. Well there is no difference between this scenario and the concept of maybe I can have just one now.
Well there is actually one difference. It is not medically or physically based, but rather societal. Our societies have not been taught about nicotine addiction. People have been taught about addiction and other drugs. Even though nicotine is more addictive than most any other addictive substance, and maybe even the most addictive of all, people still don’t grasp how any administration of the substance can cause a relapse, even though they are taught this about most other addictive drugs. How often you will hear someone ask you when they find out you have quit the question, “You mean you haven’t even had one?” This is such a ludicrous comment, and yet so common. Or how many times have you seen literature put out by medical organizations advising a recovering addict to not let a slip put them back to using? The message has been clear and consistent with other drugs, the message being don’t slip.
Everyone here has been exposed to this discrepancy, not just since you quit, but also for years and decades while you still smoked. You now have to alter a way of thinking that is part of our culture, no matter what culture you are from. The pervasive attitude of the society around you is wrong.
The society may accept the danger of smoking but they do not yet grasp the concept of the addiction. You have to be smarter and more informed than the society around you, maybe even your health care provider. It is asking a lot of an individual to think different than the society as a whole, but it has to be done in regards to smoking.
The consequence of not becoming fanatical against a puff is too serious to just dismiss. It will be the loss of your quit, and that can easily translate to loss of your health and eventually loss of your life. You have to be vigilant at all times, to keep reminding yourself that you are a recovering addict.
There may be no signs of the addiction; thoughts of cigarettes may have become rare events now and maybe even non-existent. But even at this stage of the game, there is a silent addiction still there that can take you down with full force for making one miscalculation; thinking that maybe you are different.
You are no different than any other drug addict, whether it be from alcohol, cocaine, heroin, etc. You are an addict for life, but as long as you get the drug out of your system and never administer it again, you will never be set into the downward spiral that the drug sets into motion to its users. In regards to smoking, that spiral is loss of your Freedom, your health and your life, which means you can lose everything.
To keep what you’ve got, always remember to stay smoke free you must never take another puff!
I want one
I want one-no I don’t. One sounds great-no it doesn’t. Oh just one-not just one. If you keep thinking in terms of “one” this kind of internal debate is non-relenting-it will slowly drive you nuts.
So, don’t carry on this debate. Don’t think in terms of one. Think in terms of full-fledged smoking. The full quantity, the social stigma, the stench, the costs, the risks. I’m not advocating looking at them negatively. Just look at them how they were-really were at the end.
They were making you sick and tired enough of them that you voluntarily put yourself into withdrawal to break free from them. You did it. Now just keep them in perspective. If you used to smoke 20 a day, say to yourself when the urge hits that “I want 20 a day, every day, for the rest of my life, till it cripples, then kills me.” As soon as you hear yourself say it in that perspective you will likely find yourself next saying, “What am I thinking? I don’t want to smoke that way.” That will be the end of that particular discussion.
Look at smoking in real terms and you will walk away from each urge with a sense of relief and accomplishement. Fantasize about them and you may walk away with a feeling of deprivation. You are not depriving yourself of anything, you are ridding yourself of a deadly addiction. See them for what they are and you will stay forever resolute to never take another puff!
Never take another puff
I said it every day of the clinics, it’s in almost all my posts, and you see it at the end of each of these short articles. Even so, I still feel I cannot repeat it enough – NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF! It is not that I am afraid that you will like the cigarette and decide how wonderful going back to smoking will be. To the contrary, it will probably make you dizzy, nauseous, and generally sick. You may absolutely hate yourself for having done it. Even this, though, is not the problem.
The real danger is the reinforcement of the nicotine addiction. It is a powerful addiction. One puff can send you back to your old level of cigarette consumption within days. We have had clinic participants who have previously quit smoking for periods exceeding 20 years. One day they decide to try just one. Even after this great period of time, the first cigarette is enough to start the whole addiction withdrawal process. They are again hooked on a drug, and within days the full habit returns. All of the physical dangers, psychological problems, and tremendous expenses return to their previous levels. If you do not believe this can happen to you, come into the first or second night of my next stop smoking clinic. Listen to all of the new enrollees who are there to quit smoking. These are people who were once off cigarettes for a substantial period of time before, people who liked not smoking, people who loved not smoking, people who now need help to once again reclaim their nonsmoking status because of one tragic mistake. They were not immune to the first drag. The odds are, neither are you. Consider this the next time you have a passing thought for a cigarette.
Now you have a choice. You can remain an ex-smoker or you can become an addicted smoker once again. Consider both options carefully. Which way of life better suits you – a slave to a deadly weed or a truly free person? The final decision is yours. If you choose the latter, simply practice the following advice – NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!