Tips for Gaining Freedom From Nicotine
This pamphlet contains practical suggestions for people new to Nicotine
Anonymous. Used in conjunction with our Twelve Steps of recovery and regular
attendance at meetings, they can help you to start living free of nicotine.
Prior to quitting
1) It's not as hard as you think.
This is not to suggest that it is easy, but many of us had developed the view
that stopping our tobacco use was impossible. Nicotine is a powerful substance
that can alter your sense of the truth.
2) Inform yourself about nicotine.
Nicotine is a poisonous alkaloid substance. It has been officially declared an
3) Understand that you do not need nicotine (it is not nutritional).
Nicotine use creates a physical craving. The only way to stop your craving is
to keep nicotine out of your body.
4) Understand that addiction is a chemically compelled behavior.
Nicotine commands can be more insistent than rational thought. You respond to
these chemical commands, often unconsciously. Ever find a smoking cigarette (or
two) in your hand and you can't recall ever having lit them?
5) Make an honest appraisal of your nicotine use.
Ask yourself exactly what it is doing for you; then ask yourself what it is not
doing for you. If you think using nicotine offers you something, consider if
there are healthier ways for you to get any of these perceived benefits. Keep in
mind that it is a medical fact that tobacco use affects every organ in your body
in a harmful way. Ask yourself whether using nicotine is relaxing you or is it
just relieving the tension caused by the chemical craving for nicotine.
6) Don't delay action toward stopping your use of nicotine because you think
there are too many pressures in your life.
Nicotine and the 4,000 chemicals in processed tobacco (over 60 can cause cancer)
are a real pressure on your physical and spiritual life. These substances
steadily erode your state of health.
7) Open your life up to new approaches and new possibilities.
If you keep going about things in the same old way, how can you realistically
expect different results? "If nothing changes, nothing changes."
8) Treat yourself with love and respect rather then by placating yourself with
Meetings will help change the way you talk to and treat yourself. Just by
reading this you are taking action. Reward yourself in some positive way for
each action you take.
9) Write down reasons why you want to be nicotine free rather than thinking
about reasons why you "can't quit yet."
Don't focus on what you feel you cannot do, but take an action on something that
you can do. Move forward toward your goal, no matter how small a step it may be.
10) Quit for yourself.
You may have family and loved ones who are urging you to quit using tobacco.
This may be helpful, but can sometimes leave a nicotine user annoyed and
defensive. Even though your family and loved ones will benefit tremendously from
your quitting, it is you who will benefit most. There is a better chance of
quitting and staying stopped when we quit for ourselves. Attending meetings
helps to raise your hopes and to strengthen your desire to quit.
11) Look at quitting the use of nicotine as giving yourself a precious gift.
You are giving yourself a better quality of life, possibly a longer life. You
are giving yourself a healthier body. You are giving yourself more self-esteem.
You are also giving yourself a clearer sense of your feelings. Recovery is a
gift that keeps on giving.
12) Make things easier for yourself. Before quitting, plan your activities for
the first few days of abstinence.
This way you will not have to make too many decisions during withdrawal.
13) Consider quitting as a challenging adventure.
Become willing to go to any length to remove nicotine from your life. We have
found that willingness can change a length into a strength. If you are not
willing, try praying for the willingness. Even if you still feel hesitant,
practice saying aloud, "I am willing to go to any length to be free." Affirm
your desire with your voice. If this feels awkward, be willing to feel awkward.
Keep moving your willingness forward. The gift is ahead.
14) Imagine letting go of nicotine.
Some people use visualizations as an aid in changing. Imagine your pack lifting
or drifting away. You may reach out to grab it, okay, but then imagine letting
it go again. Sense the release, imagine the relief. Strengthen your willingness
with practice. Rehearse for an opening.
15) There is no perfect time to start preparing to quit.
Today is a good day to start. Today you are reading this pamphlet. You may not
stop using nicotine today but stay in the process of preparing for the
possibility. Seek your own pace to prepare rather than seeking excuses to delay.
16) If you are not going to quit right away, try cutting down.
If you smoke one less cigarette each day that will be seven less per day in a
week. However, if this is difficult, remember it is each dose of nicotine that
is creating the next craving.
17) Don't minimize the truth or deny the risks even if you are not quitting
If this feels uncomfortable, talk about it with a fellow member. Kept in the
dark, denial grows like a mold. The truth may be awkward at first, but in time
can set you free.
18) Set a quit date.
Give it a try. Remember, it is all right if you don't succeed at first. Just
keep trying. The only way you can lose is by ceasing to try.
Your First Days of Freedom
19) Look at quitting as an investment. Once you quit for an hour, you have
invested this hour in becoming a healthier person. Now, invest one more hour.
Continue to add to your investment hour by hour. It will grow and become more
valuable as the hours go by. You will begin to see and feel the rewards from
this investment more and more. Protect and guard it just as you would your
20) Quit nicotine one day at time and think only about the part of the day you
are in. "I am not going to smoke (chew) before noon." "I am not going to smoke
(chew) before three o'clock." Sometimes just do it an hour at a time or a
craving at a time. This is a lot easier than thinking about trying to quit
21) Any discomforts you experience in the beginning will ease with time and
You will never have to go through it again if you stay nicotine free. Remember
your discomforts! They are valuable! These memories may prevent you from the
common risk of trying to have "just one."
22) If you could have just one, you wouldn't have had the thousands of
cigarettes you have smoked.
A pack a day for ten years is 73,000 cigarettes! None of them solved a single
23) Think about letting go of nicotine as a "choice" rather than something you
are doing to deprive yourself.
You can tell yourself that you can smoke a carton tomorrow, but "just for today"
you are choosing to be abstinent.
24) Pray instead of puff.
The intimacy of personal prayer improves our relationship with ourselves and
others. Within the privacy of our own mind and heart, we can pray anywhere.
Nicotine arrives by paper, pipe, or pinch; recovery arrives by spiritual
25) When you quit you may experience a sense of loss.
Don't dwell on these thoughts. The sense of loss is temporary, but the gains you
receive will be enjoyed the rest of your life. It will become a pleasure to
remove nicotine from your life.
26) If you feel an urge to use nicotine think H.A.L.T. Four basic triggers for
using nicotine are when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired.
27) Feed your body with nutrition instead of nicotine. We have used nicotine to
suppress our feelings, even hunger. Recovery is about learning to take care of
ourselves in life affirming ways. Pay attention to when you get "edgy", you may
need to feed yourself. Or it could simply be time to stretch and take in some
28) Drink lots of liquids to help flush the poison out of your system. Water can
be a wonderful washer. Orange juice is good because smoking depletes the vitamin
C content in our bodies.
29) What and how much you eat is important when you quit nicotine. Your
metabolism changes. Your organs function differently. You may experience weight
gain. There are things you can do to modify gaining weight. There is no cure for
30) When you first stop, don't be surprised if you find yourself feeling cranky,
grumpy, crabby or downright angry. Withdrawal from nicotine will be physically
uncomfortable and you may feel deprived and generally annoyed. It is important
to talk with someone about these feelings rather than venting at someone. Anger
can hurt. You may end up feeling guilty which could lead you to feeling
justified to use nicotine again.
31) Take a second look before you react. Withdrawal can distort one's perception
of a situation. However, nicotine may have masked issues that are genuinely
upsetting and anger may be a valid feeling that requires being addressed in a
32) There are better companions than cigarettes. As we end our relationship with
nicotine there may be feelings of grief or loneliness. It is good to share what
you are experiencing with others who are going through the same thing. Use your
meeting's phone list to keep connected and clean with feelings of fellowship.
33) Avoid becoming too tired. When we are tired, situations can get
misunderstood, our patience thins, and our overall resistance becomes weak. This
is dangerous. "Everything" doesn't need to get done today.
34) Take breaks. Develop new ways to "take a moment" without using nicotine. We
are learning to take care of ourselves in healthier ways. Enjoying a few moments
of rest or pausing to reflect on how we might undertake our next task can be
done without a cigarette. Really.
35) Sometimes all we need is a distraction to shift our focus from a craving. In
the beginning it is better to keep yourself busy than to allow yourself the time
to obsess about what you are not doing. It is important to keep putting more
time between you and your last dose of nicotine.
36) Surround yourself with supportive positive people. This will help you keep a
positive attitude. Avoid negative people, places and things as best you can,
especially in the first weeks of stopping your tobacco use. Don't try to test
yourself or try to prove a point by taking chances. Act as if your life is at
37) Ask for help from family, friends, and co-workers. Whether it's to ask for
some tolerance as you go through withdrawal or asking them not to use tobacco
around you for a while. They may not be as understanding as your group or Higher
Power, but you can ask. After all, when you look at the statistics, you could
say it is matter of life or death.
38) Plan activities that do not permit tobacco use. Go to the movies or museums
or any public place where tobacco use is not allowed. Relax in a warm bath. Go
swimming, hiking, visit non-smoking friends, or do something else you enjoy
39) Keep something handy for your hands. We are accustomed to holding a
cigarette; being without one might leave our hands at a loss. Squeeze a small
ball, playdough or fiddle with any object. You may also have a personal item
that offers spiritual strength when held.
40) Boredom is a signal to get busy. It is hard to just sit and not smoke.
Offering service to your group will enhance your recovery. You can also keep
busy with things you enjoy or explore new activities. Pace yourself, but stay
active. Take a walk to see beauty. Enroll in an evening class just for fun.
This is a good time to indulge yourself with a sense of newness and enjoyment.
41) Suck, bite, or chew. You may miss putting something in your mouth. Avoid
fattening foods. Some people substitute sucking lollipops or candy. Carrot or
celery sticks are good to bite and good for you. Chewing gum is also a good
substitute. Others enjoy cinnamon sticks or licorice roots from health food
42) Caffeine is a stimulant like nicotine. Once you stop smoking, your body's
chemistry changes and caffeine stays in your body longer. You may crave
cigarettes more to smooth out a caffeine high. To help make these initial stages
of nicotine abstinence easier consider gradually reducing your coffee intake if
you drink a lot of coffee or eliminating it if you are a moderate drinker.
43) Avoid drinking alcohol while you are quitting. Once alcohol is in your
system your defenses will diminish greatly.
44) Change your routine. Drive to work using another route to avoid familiar
triggers along the way. Watch TV in another chair to break the association.
Changing your patterns helps change your responses.
45) Give yourself rewards, frequently. What you are doing isn't easy by any
means. It takes a lot of guts to change and break the cycle of addiction.
46) Avoid the self-pity trap. If we begin to feel sorry for ourselves, our minds
will tell us that we deserve a cigarette to make us feel better.
47) If you have a problem and then use nicotine, you now have two problems.
48) Re-read all the Nicotine Anonymous literature on a regular basis.
As your recovery progresses you will discover new insights about your nicotine
use and your relationship with yourself and others.
49) All you have to do is not have the "next one" and you will avoid smoking
thousands. Don't fool yourself and think you can start and stop at will. You
can't (or else you would have years ago). Trying to control an addictive
substance is engaging in an endless battle.
50) Frequently notice how you are improving. Your breath no longer smells like
a dirty ashtray. Your fingers are not stained from tobacco. Your senses of smell
and taste are better. Your complexion has a healthier color. Your teeth are
beginning to lose their yellow color. Your smoker's cough may increase
temporarily during the clearing process, but eventually eases. Your general
attitude about yourself is better because you are really taking care of
51) Be open to opportunities to take Steps. Our everyday activities present us
with a chance to practice applying the Twelve Steps to our lives. Sometimes we
can take only tiny steps but they start us past "stuck." We won't know how far
we will get or even to where, but any movement forward becomes an act of faith.
Working any of the Twelve Steps is an act of faith. The more we practice them,
the more we change. The more we change, the more we realize the power in an act
of faith. We are inspired into spirituality.
52) Simplify your options. Simple is easier to maintain. Complicated plans
either never get started or eventually break down. Addicts tend to make things
complicated, wanting to avoid certain "simple truths." If we keep things simple
and just do the "next right thing," serenity can grace us. This is a gentle
53) Give your gift away. Whenever you encounter a nicotine user who is seeking
help, give your experience, strength, and hope. Helping others transforms your
past into a "present."
54) Maintain what you have gained. Do not assume you have "graduated" because
you have made it through a couple of weeks. Nicotine is very cunning and will
wait for a vulnerable moment. Long term triggers to use will linger. Take no
chances. Continue to attend Nicotine Anonymous meetings. Enjoy the fellowship.
If there are no meetings in your area, help get one started. All you need is a
place to meet and at least another interested person.
55) If you want to smoke, use all the tools of the program instead, and Keep
Showing Up. The principles of Nicotine Anonymous are based on the successful
experiences of many others who now live nicotine free.
Nicotine Anonymous World Services
6333 E. Mockingbird Lane, #147-817
Dallas, TX 75214
Phone: (469) 737-9304