Tips for Gaining Freedom
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 nicotine 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 addictive chemical.
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 smoking, chewing, or vaping, 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 smoke (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 than by placating yourself with rationalizations.
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 foreach 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 nicotine. 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 or vape 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 today.
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 life's savings.
20) Quit nicotine one day at time and think only about the part of the day you are in.
"I am not going to use nicotine before noon." "I am not going to use nicotine 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 forever.
21) Any discomforts you experience in the beginning will ease with time and abstinence.
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 problem.
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 have nicotine 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 delivery.
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 fresh air.
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 emphysema!
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 healthy manner.
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 nicotine. 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 nicotine use. Don't try to test yourself or try to prove a point by taking chances. Act as if your life is at stake.
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 nicotine 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 nicotine use.
Go to the movies or museums or any public place where tobacco or vape 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 or vape; 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 use nicotine. 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 stores.
42) Caffeine is a stimulant like nicotine.
Once you stop using nicotine, your body's chemistry changes and caffeine stays in your body longer. You may crave nicotine 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 nicotine 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 yourself.
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 program.
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.