I let go of nicotine completely almost six years through phone meetings at Nicotine-Anonymous.org. I had smoked for 40 years and that first two weeks was just awful. I barely trusted myself to go to the store for food. And as one member put it, I ate all of California during the first couple of months.
Slowly, as I worked the 12 Steps with a Nic-A sponsor, first the craving and finally even the desire for a cigarette gradually left me. I quit hoping for a ‘contact high’ from other smokers and began to truly dislike the smell of anyone smoking, and the odor that clung to their clothes and hair. (I truly hadn’t known how bad cigarette smoke and I smelled when smoking until I’d been off them several months. I was horrified.)
I mostly don’t give smoking a thought, except to try to walk around smokers, or shut the window when the neighbor’s smoke starts to drift in.
I’ve had some stress building the last month or two. The membership site I started isn’t growing as fast as I want it to and I was wanting to do some things I simply can’t afford at the moment. Then I got mildly sick. Wednesday something slowed my computer way down and I walked away from it in a snarling huff. I was angry, probably lonely, and feeling tired – three out of the four we call HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.
Suddenly I was craving a cigarette
Wham I got hit with the craving for a cigarette that was harsh. I was really startled at how strong the desire was – it wasn’t a casual thing at all. I felt the craving not only in my mouth and on my tongue, but in my lungs and in my brain. For a moment nicotine was the answer, the only one I could see.
Fortunately years of program kicked in and I didn’t head outside to find smoke-able butts I know are there, or drive to the store to buy ‘just one pack.’
Instead I prayed and asked for the relief from the craving, and it passed.
Friday I told some 12 Steppers I was having coffee with about being hit with a serious craving for a cigarette. We sort of laughed and I felt heard and supported.
Right around 5 that evening, the craving hit again! Not nearly as hard as the one on Wednesday, but more than just the thought of smoking.
This time I picked up the phone and joined a Nic-A phone meeting. I felt myself calm and all desire for nicotine in any form (and I’ve used a bunch of them) passed.
Craving is not unusual for addicts
While it’s been quite awhile since I’ve had a craving or even a desire for alcohol, or drugs, I know in my being that I’m not cured. My freedom from my addictions is exactly as promised, in direct proportion to my spiritual fitness if you will.
HALT is a great guideline. I doesn’t mean that every time I get hungry, angry, lonely or tired in one or more combinations I’ll develop a craving. But it does signal we’re more vulnerable than usual. I was glad to remembered HALT when those cravings hit. I’m also grateful there was a phone meeting on Friday evening.
But I’m not afraid, and come to think of it, I wasn’t afraid when the cravings hit either. I know what to do to stay sober, clean and nicotine free – pray, talk about it and get to a meetings.
We’re promised freedom from fear in the Big Book. And that’s been my experience.
Your turn. Have you experienced craving once you’ve let go of your addiction? What happened? How did you feel? What did you do? Tell us in comments.
Love, blessings and abundance,