How Nicotine Anonymous Works
Newcomers often arrive with the fear that they will not be able to stop using nicotine. They wonder how Nicotine Anonymous works. We have a common saying at our meetings, “It works if you work it.”
Based on our experience, we have found that much depends upon our own attitude. There are three fundamental principles to how this program works. Here’s H.O.W.
H.O.W. = Honesty, Openness, & Willingness
Honesty is the antidote to the lies we have told ourselves- those excuses we have used to justify and maintain our behavior with nicotine. Honesty is a path of self-discovery, where we find a true sense of ourselves and our potential. In our journey we identify negative concepts that have affected beliefs about ourselves and life in general. The more we are honest with ourselves, the more inner trust we develop.
Openness allows us to receive the wisdom of the program, the support from our fellows, and the care of a Higher Power. An open mind invites opportunities. Openness calls upon the courage that facilitates change.
Willingness moves us to act. Action generates hope, explores possibilities, and inspires us beyond the doubts and fears that have imprisoned us in the past. Willingness carries us forward to experience the freedom, joy, and serenity- the bounty of recovery.
The process begins when a newcomer enters the rooms as a welcomed member. All that is required for membership is the desire to stop using nicotine. (see “To the Newcomer and Sponsorship in Nicotine Anonymous” pamphlet’s Welcome and Invitation sections).
At meetings newcomers hear firsthand information about the struggle, the surrender, and the freedom of recovery.
The struggle was due in part to our previous attempts only to use our own willpower against a highly addictive substance. Nicotine profoundly alters the brain’s chemistry in areas that influence behavior, reasoning, and memory.
The surrender we came to understand enabled us to let go of limited approaches we had tried before. By surrendering, we became open to all this program offers and the care of a Power greater than ourselves.
The freedom realized by fellow members inspired us and demonstrated by example that it works, if we work it.
What we work is the program and the tools (see “The Program and The Tools” pamphlet). Nicotine Anonymous suggests that we use the Twelve Steps and the five Tools instead of using nicotine. We have found that what works best is to focus on the solution rather than the problem.
We meet in groups to share our experience, strength, and hope with each other. It is the members’ combined strength and hope that give more strength and hope to each individual’s process to live nicotine-free.
Recovery is a process. Each member works at his or her own pace. This is a gentle program, best approached with earnestness.
Our Fellowship offers a “we program” of mutual support. Newcomers benefit others by “keeping it green,” reminding others where they’ve come from. Newcomers discover they are neither unique nor alone in the ways that nicotine has impacted their lives. Whether at meetings, on the phone, or by email, having someone to connect with during times of need is important and can make the difference between using nicotine and getting and staying free.
Initially, many of us hesitated at certain Steps or before using all the tools. Some of us wanted an easier way. However, we learned that in order to get free of nicotine, we must become willing to go to any length. Shortcuts left us short of our goal. We stood at a turning point and the Steps provided direction- a spiritual approach to gain and maintain freedom from nicotine.
These are the Steps* we work, one day at a time:
- We admitted we were powerless over nicotine, and that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- 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 it out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other nicotine users and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
When the work began, many of us felt that this program asked too much of us. If you have such feelings, do not be discouraged. At first, you can just listen, then share your story. Read the literature, use the phone list, get a sponsor. Over time, be of service and practice the program’s principles in your daily life as best you can. Our members seek progress, not perfection. What’s important is that you “Keep Showing Up.”
Coming to believe in a Higher Power is a personal process of each member’s understanding. For some, the group becomes one form of a Higher Power. Being open to the care of a Higher Power is a spiritual principle that has helped many get free of the mental and physical bondage of addiction.
The Twelve Steps, together with our personal stories of addiction and recovery, reveal three fundamental truths:
- We were addicted to nicotine, which put our lives in danger;
- We could not stop using nicotine on our own;
- A Power greater than ourselves could help us, if we sought this help in the fellowship of other nicotine addicts.
Welcome to Nicotine Anonymous.
*The Twelve Steps reprinted and adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt the Twelve Steps does not mean that A.A. is affiliated with this program. AA is a program of recovery from alcohol - use of the Twelve Steps in connection with programs and activities which are patterned after A.A., but which address other problems does not imply otherwise.The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol- that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 11. 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. 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and practice these principles in all our affairs.