What’s Your Addiction? —Fred H. Kelley

Last issue, I discussed the importance of knowing what you are quitting for and keeping the “prize” of quitting foremost in your thoughts.

This issue, I want you to delve into your addiction and determine to what part or parts of smoking you are addicted.

When did you start smoking? Were you young? Why did you start? To be cool? To fit in?

I bet you didn’t start smoking to get a nicotine fix. When you first started smoking it was probably because your friends were doing it, you were curious or felt pressured to try it, so you smoked just to smoke. Pretty soon though, smoking became something more for you—it became a part of your life. And this was a part that you probably found yourself regretting very soon after you realized that you “needed” cigarettes.

After the “coolness” wore off and you decided maybe your parents *were* right—smoking wasn’t very glamorous—where did you find yourself then? Did you try to quit, but you felt sick if you didn’t smoke another? Did you miss your cigarettes or your smoking breaks? Did you find yourself nervous and fidgety, not knowing what to do with your hands?

All these symptoms of withdrawal give you clues into your addiction. In fact they help you answer the question, “What’s your addiction?”

Every smoker is addicted to a slightly different combination of what I’ll call “stimulants.” I don’t use this in the “drug” sense of the word. Instead, what I mean by stimulants is the addictive property or addictive “thing” that hooks you into smoking and keeps you there, locked in its grip.

What grips you and hooks you? That’s what you must endeavor to uncover. What do you *like* about smoking? What good do you find in it? Write it down. Understand it.

If you dig deep, very deep, you’ll probably find stimulants that you didn’t expect to find.

Do you like the fire from the match or lighter? Do you find yourself in a Humphrey Bogart movie every time you cover your hand to protect your match from the wind? Is smoking still a way for you to rebel against your parents? society? Are you calmed by the chemicals? Does smoking suppress your appetite and keep you trim? Do you need something in your hands and mouth? Are you unpleasantly lonely if you don’t have a pack of cigarettes in your pocket? Are you often bored with life, except when you smoke? Is your mind made clearer when you light up? Do you feel irregular if you don’t get your cigarettes?

What does smoking do for you? Yes, it can give you “positive” experiences, or so you think. The problem is that you have conditioned your mind and body, through prolonged exposure to smoking, to experience positive, even euphoric, feelings when you smoke. Non-smokers don’t experience the roller-coaster ride of the high and lows. Instead they maintain a much higher level of “well-being”, most all the time. They don’t need a cigarette to relax—they just learn how to relax naturally.

The great news for you today is that you can learn to replace cigarettes with other “things” that give you the positive experiences. You can learn to relax; you can learn to clear your mind in far more productive ways, than smoking. Finding replacements for your addictions is a topic for another email, but I know you can begin to do this yourself.

Here’s some simple steps to take now to learn what you are addicted to and then to combat your addiction

  1. For two days, every time you smoke, pay attention to and write down, the feelings you had just prior to smoking each cigarette. Were you tired? Bored? Hungry? Fidgety?
  2. Write down the “good” that you feel came from smoking that particular cigarette. Did it help you relax? Ease your boredom? Help you wake up? Fall asleep?
  3. Study your list. You’ll probably notice a pattern very quickly.
  4. Be creative and find things to distract you when you notice yourself having a feeling that brings on the desire for a smoke.
  5. In addition to distracting yourself, you should find replacements for the “good” that you get from smoking. If you smoke to relax, figure out how to relax without a cigarette. If you smoke to clear your mind, figure out how to clear your mind without a cigarette.
  6. Remember, this ain’t easy, so don’t feel bad if the solutions don’t come right away. This does take work and frustration is normal!

Good luck in understanding “What’s your addiction?”

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