Introducing Nicotine Anonymous
Nicotine Anonymous is a fellowship of people helping each other to live our lives free of nicotine. We share our experience, strength, and hope with each other so that we may be free from this powerful addiction. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop using nicotine. There are no dues or fees for Nicotine Anonymous membership; we are self supporting through our own contributions. Nicotine Anonymous is not allied with any sect, denomination, political entity, organization or institution, does not engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any cause. Our primary purpose is to offer support to those who are trying to gain freedom from nicotine.
Our Preamble—Reprinted for adaptation with permission of the A.A. Grapevine
Welcome to Nicotine Anonymous
In the early 1980s, a few nicotine addicts discovered that they were able to gain relief from their nicotine addiction by adapting the principles of the 12-Step program, Alcoholics Anonymous. They started Nicotine Anonymous (NicA) in order to share this recovery program with other nicotine addicts and to develop a fellowship that would offer caring support and practical experience to others so that they too could learn to live without using nicotine.
What is Nicotine Anonymous?
Nicotine Anonymous is a worldwide fellowship of people who have felt the terrible grip of nicotine addiction. We found a way to live and grow without using nicotine. We share this program freely with each other and with all who wish to join us.
We know that nicotine is a subtle, yet powerful mind and mood altering substance, and that a compelling urge for it can return at any time. Many who have stopped using nicotine for years have found themselves using it once more. Therefore, we meet regularly to avoid slipping back into its grip.
Our primary purpose is to help others, and thus ourselves, to live free of nicotine.
How does Nicotine Anonymous help?
New members learn that our goal is to abstain from using nicotine “one day at a time.” By example and through fellowship we use this 12-Step program to recover our lives each day (see pamphlet “How Nicotine Anonymous Works”).
The Fellowship’s valuable support is ongoing, not limited to a few weeks. Members progress at their own pace. By getting free of this addiction, our health has a chance to improve. If we are to remain nicotine-free, we need healthy minds and emotions, too. Using the Twelve Steps, we begin to understand our thoughts and feelings, and lay a strong spiritual foundation on which to build happy, useful lives.
What are Nicotine Anonymous meetings?
Nicotine Anonymous meetings consist of two of more people getting together to share a common desire to be free of nicotine. Members share their experience, strength and hope. They learn what others have experienced while withdrawing from nicotine and how they can use the Nicotine Anonymous program to live nicotine free.
In meetings, newcomers are introduced to the Twelve Steps of recovery. Due to our tradition of anonymity, members find meetings safe places to share their problems and feelings. We respect each other by listening without inserting criticism or unsolicited advice.
Telephone numbers are exchanged to extend support between meetings. Sponsors are sought to help us with the program. Service provides positive opportunities to grow. Perhaps most importantly, we find we are not alone in our struggle against nicotine.
Who can join Nicotine Anonymous?
Anyone with a desire to stop using nicotine can join Nicotine Anonymous, be they “youthful beginners” or “seasoned users.” We may vary in any number of other ways, but nicotine addiction is the one thing all members have in common. When we meet as NicA members, we seldom notice our differences; we create unity and strength by focusing on our common desire to live free of nicotine.
Who runs Nicotine Anonymous?
Guided by the Twelve Traditions and their group conscience, members of Nicotine Anonymous govern their own groups and, through delegates, Nicotine Anonymous as a whole. Tradition Four states: “Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or Nicotine Anonymous as a whole.” Groups determine their own formats and the qualifications of their officers independently of other meetings.
To help groups help each other, there are intergroups at state and regional levels that network groups within their areas and provide services and literature. Then, to unify NicA groups worldwide, Nicotine Anonymous World Services (NAWS) was formed. NAWS writes, publishes, and distributes literature, organizes an annual conference for group delegates, and acts as guardian of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (see pamphlet “What Do Nicotine Anonymous World Services and Intergroups Offer Me and My Group”).
What if meetings are not available?
For people who do not have a local meeting or are physically unable to attend meetings, there are online meetings, telephone meetings, Email Pals, and regular mail pen pal available. Free Meeting Starter Kits are available. To access any of these programs, use the contact information listed on the back panel of this pamphlet.
How much will Nicotine Anonymous cost me?
There are no dues or fees for membership. Each group pays rent, refreshments, and literature costs from money contributed voluntarily by its members at each meeting. Funds collected beyond group expenses can be contributed to their local intergroup and World Services to assure that they continue to function for the groups.
No member accepts money for the help he or she gives to newcomers, for being an elected member, or for performing any other non-professional service for Nicotine Anonymous. The payment we receive for these services is our own ongoing freedom from nicotine.
What doesn’t Nicotine Anonymous do?
- Nicotine Anonymous does not run membership drives. Although we publish NicA announcements, the Fellowship is based on attraction, not promotion.
- Nicotine Anonymous does not accept money from outside sources. We are self-supporting.
- Nicotine Anonymous does not check up on its members to criticize them or see if they have relapsed.
- Nicotine Anonymous is not a religious organization. Members form their own ideas about spirituality and the meaning of life.
- Nicotine Anonymous is not a medical organization. It does not give out medicines or psychiatric advice.
- Nicotine Anonymous neither runs medical or recovery facilities nor provides health services.
- Nicotine Anonymous is not affiliated with any other organization. Some members work for outside organizations but do not act as representatives of Nicotine Anonymous.
- Nicotine Anonymous does not reveal its members’ names. Our 11th Tradition states; “We need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, TV and films.” Also, members do not divulge to others who says what in meetings.
Is nicotine really an addictive substance?
The U.S. Surgeon General, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse have declared that nicotine is an addictive substance. Nicotine is recognized as the most powerfully addictive drug in common use.
Worldwide, deaths attributable to the nicotine driven behavior of tobacco use are currently about 13,700 people per day (World Health Organization, 2006). Smoking affects the health of nonsmokers, including unborn children. In the U.S., secondhand smoke causes 65,000 deaths annually (CalEPA, 1997).
Studies show that the relapse rate for nicotine use is high. Some NicA members have found that quitting became more difficult the second or third time around. We have found that willpower and determination were insufficient forces to overcome an addiction to nicotine. The program made it possible to get free.
Nicotine Anonymous sees nicotine addiction as a disease that affects the nicotine addict physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Two characteristics of an addiction are compulsive use of a substance and continued use despite adverse consequences. Our use of nicotine has certainly been compulsive and the consequences tend toward fatality.
Too often, even major health problems do not cause the nicotine addict to stop using for any sustained length of time. Heart attacks, cancer, and emphysema are directly linked to tobacco use. Health concerns can generate fear and anxiety such that we return to nicotine to allay these emotions.
There is a physical craving, too, which is very real and very powerful; it is hardly noticed until one tries to do without nicotine for a day or two. At that point, many take to nicotine to quell the craving.
We may become dependent on nicotine to soothe our emotional pains and to fill the emptiness that results from the absence of a spiritual power in our lives. To end our dependence on nicotine we must find something that can fill its role in our lives without killing us. Recovery is our goal in Nicotine Anonymous.
What are the symptoms?
Answer the following questions as honestly as you can:
- Do you use nicotine every day?
- Do you use nicotine because of shyness and to build up self-confidence?
- Do you use nicotine to escape from boredom and worries while under pressure?
- Have you ever burned a hole in your clothes, carpet, furniture or car?
- Have you ever had to go to the store late at night or at another inconvenient time because you were out of nicotine?
- Do you feel defensive or angry when people tell you that your tobacco use is bothering them?
- Has a doctor or dentist suggested that you stop smoking or chewing tobacco?
- Have you promised someone that you would stop using nicotine, then broken your promise?
- Have you felt physical or emotional discomfort when trying to quit?
- Have you successfully stopped using nicotine for a period of time only to start again?
- Do you buy extra supplies of tobacco to make sure you won’t run out?
- Do you find it difficult to imagine life without using nicotine?
- Do you choose only activities and entertainments such that you can use nicotine during them?
- Do you prefer, seek out or feel more comfortable in the company of nicotine users?
- Do you inwardly despise or feel ashamed of yourself because of your nicotine use?
- Do you ever find yourself lighting up or chewing tobacco without having consciously decided to?
- Has your nicotine use caused trouble at home or in a relationship?
- Do you smoke in the presence of children or nonsmokers despite the health risks to them?
- Do you ever tell yourself that you can stop using nicotine whenever you want to?
- Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you didn’t use nicotine?
- Do you continue to use nicotine even though you are aware of the health hazards posed by tobacco use?
If you answered “yes” to one or two of these questions, there is a chance that you are addicted or are becoming addicted to nicotine. If you answered “yes” to three or more, you are probably already addicted to nicotine.
How can I find out more about Nicotine Anonymous?
Most all information about Nicotine Anonymous is posted on our website. There are email servants to assist you. Seven Minutes, the Nicotine Anonymous quarterly newsletter, is another resource.
Some groups list themselves in local white pages. If you cannot find a meeting, please contact the Nicotine Anonymous World Services at [email protected]
Is this information helpful?
Please consider making a donation to support Nicotine Anonymous World Services (Tradition Seven) cover the costs of carrying our message of recovery to all nicotine addicts who seek recovery (Tradition Five).