A Nicotine User's View of The Twelve Steps
By practicing the Twelve Steps in our daily lives, many of our attitudes change. We begin to appreciate the miracles that are happening within us and around us. We begin to realize that a Power greater than ourselves* will help us if we are willing to accept that help.
The following is just one nicotine user's view on how the Twelve Steps can help someone attain freedom from nicotine. For further study of the Twelve Steps, see Nicotine Anonymous: The Book.
* “Nicotine Anonymous is not allied with any sect or denomination” (see Our Preamble).
We admitted we were powerless over nicotine - that our lives had become unmanageable.
By first admitting that we are powerless over nicotine, we immediately open the door to receive help. This admission of powerlessness enables us to become more open-minded and willing to accept a strength far greater than our own.
For some people this is hard to do, but if we were not powerless over nicotine, then we should be able to vary the amount we use by choice, and some days use none at all. Most of us simply cannot do this.
The second part of Step One "that our lives had become unmanageable," is easy to prove. If we stop our nicotine intake for a few hours and go it alone on pure will power, we soon realize how unmanageable our lives really are. The craving for nicotine begins to take control of us and we feel "crazed" until we have it. Yet having it only ensures the next craving!
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
The first part of this Step is coming to believe that there is a "Power greater than ourselves." Many of us already have a belief in a Higher Power that we call "God". If we don't have a belief in a Power greater than ourselves, it's important that we remain open-minded.
Perhaps we have asked God for help in a time of need and received it. Maybe we have gazed over an ocean at sunset and suddenly had the feeling that there was definitely a Higher Power. Maybe it was when we gave birth to a child and prayed that it would be all right. If we find it hard to believe today, maybe we can recall some of these times.
Coming to believe that a Higher Power could actually do something for us is the second part of this Step. If we can believe this Power gave us life, then we can come to believe that this Power will help us live as healthy human beings. If we have even a slight amount of faith that a Higher Power can and will help us, it will open the door.
The third part of this Step is "restore us to sanity." From what insanity do we have to be restored? We purposely consume a poisonous alkaloid called nicotine. The addictive effects of this substance in tobacco products have been proven over and over to be hazardous to our health, yet we continue to use it. This is insanity.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
In Step One we admitted we were powerless over nicotine, and that our lives had become unmanageable. In Step Two we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step Three is simply making the decision to let God care for us. If we can let a Higher Power care for our lives, and we try to quit something as harmful to our lives as nicotine, then we can believe that this Power will help us.
By taking these first three Steps we open the door to let in the help and strength of a Power greater than ourselves. This Power is always with us and will help, if we are willing to accept.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
The importance of doing an inventory is to enable us to know ourselves better. By being fearless and searching, we discover our assets and our character defects. Writing out our inventory helps us better see and understand what we have to deal with.
In this Step we begin to clean house. As we discover our reasons for using nicotine, it becomes easier to eliminate it from our lives. By doing this we strengthen tremendously our chances of staying off nicotine.
Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
In this Step our “house cleaning” continues. We no longer have to hold the burden of our wrongs inside us. When taking this Step we might also discover things that could cause us concern in the future.
Getting some of the weight off our shoulders makes it a lot easier to eliminate anxieties and tensions from our lives. Many of the excuses we might use for returning to nicotine are brought out in this Step.
By sharing our past with another human being, many things may suddenly seem different. Things that used to stay inside us, causing us to worry and use nicotine, will no longer be our secrets alone. Once shared, they begin to lose their grip on us.
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
In Step One we admitted we were powerless over nicotine and in Step Two we came to believe that God could help us. In Step Three we made a decision to let God care for our lives. Steps Four and Five uncovered our defects of character.
After doing the first five Steps, we now need to become willing to let go of our character defects. The willingness to have them removed is the key to Step Six.
It’s important to remember that many of our character defects relate directly to our nicotine addiction. By being willing to let go of these character defects, we are greatly increasing our chances of remaining nicotine free.
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
By now we should be somewhat humble. We’ve admitted we were powerless over nicotine, uncovered our character defects, and shared the exact nature of our wrongs with someone else. Now we can ask God to remove our shortcomings. This is trusting God to a high degree. We are asking a Power greater than ourselves to change us. We are asking a Higher Power to remove our anxieties, rages, dishonesty, resentments, or anything that might be a shortcoming.
This change that we undergo will strengthen our character and give us the ability to live our lives without nicotine.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
In this Step even more strength is added to our program. If there is anybody we have harmed in our past, it is important to get the guilt off our conscience. By making a list we become clear as to exactly who these people are.
In Step Five we may have mentioned some wrongs we’ve done to specific people. If we have a family, it’s likely our nicotine addiction has caused them some worry. There may be people at work who have suffered from our secondhand smoke. Our list should include all those people we had harmed regardless of how much or under what circumstances.
We may want to put ourselves at the top of the list. We are the ones who have probably suffered the most. On a constant basis we subjected our bodies to a poisonous substance. In the truest sense of the word we have done ourselves harm.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
By letting ourselves receive the gift of freedom from nicotine, we are making amends. This is truly one of the finest gifts we can open for ourselves. Our bodies can begin to recover immediately and our general health has a good chance of improving.
We begin to make amends to our loved ones by showing them that we are caring for ourselves. No longer do they have to fear that we are practicing a deadly habit. Many of our amends will be made by simply living nicotine free.
Making amends in other areas of our life will strengthen our chances of staying nicotine free for good. This will also give us more self-esteem and serenity. We come to know that we are truly worthy of living without this addiction.
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
In order to maintain a comfortable state of mind, we have to “keep clean” with ourselves and others. By continuing to take a personal inventory we can accomplish this.
When shortcomings come up we can immediately go back and do a "Seventh Step" on them, asking God to remove these shortcomings.
The second part of this Step, “when we were wrong promptly admitted it,” is essential if we want to stay calm. By doing this we don’t let anything build up inside of us that might cause us to use nicotine.
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
When dealing with an addiction as strong as nicotine we need all the help we can get. The help of a Power greater than ourselves is available to us through prayer and meditation. By practicing this in our daily lives, we can keep a channel open to our Higher Power. We can rely on God’s strength to help us any time.
Praying for the knowledge of God’s will for us is easier to do than understanding what God tells us. We become aware of our Higher Power’s will for us in many different ways, though sometimes we overlook the obvious.
When we have a cough, or a sore throat from using nicotine, this might be our Higher Power’s way of telling us we are doing something wrong. In whatever form the message comes, we can rest assured that using nicotine isn't our Higher Power's will for us. Our Higher Power wants us to be healthy and nicotine free.
Once we believe we are trying to do our Higher Power’s will, we can ask for the power to carry it out. When we have the compulsion to use nicotine we can ask our Higher Power to take it away. This Power is ever present and ever willing to help.
It is important to remember that we have to do the footwork. By going to meetings and listening to others with the same problem, we learn about how they got free- what worked and what did not. We learn about the pitfalls and what to expect. We get group support. There are many things we can do if we are willing.
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to nicotine users and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
By the time we have reached Step Twelve, a change has taken place. The compulsion to use nicotine has lifted, not by our own power, but by a Power greater than ourselves. This is in itself a spiritual awakening. It’s an awakening to a new life, a better, healthier life.
We now have the gift of being free from nicotine. Truly one of the best ways to keep this gift is to give it away. We have our experience, strength, and hope that we can share with others. We can let ourselves be used as a channel for God to work through. We can now partake in the joy of helping others to live healthier, happier, and longer lives.
If we practice these principles in all our affairs, we will live abundantly. We will live as our Higher Power intends- happy, joyous, and free.