As part of my Addictions class, we are required to participate in a 21 day abstinence project. We must attempt to abstain from a mood altering substance or a compulsive behavior, so that we will hopefully be more empathic with our clients who are abusing substances and are trying to stop. I have been wanting to stop smoking cigarettes for some time now, but haven’t quite gotten around to it, or was I subconsciously waiting for this assignment? I have smoked cigarettes for 6 years, this time around. I had smoked for 17 years the first time I stopped. I was ready to stop, and it was hard, but not impossible. I didn’t smoke for 8 years, but one extremely frustrating day and easy access to cigarettes (I worked in a gas station and sold cigarettes) was all it took to become a smoker again. I hope to remain a nonsmoker following this assignment.
I had my last cigarette approximately 41.5 hours ago and I’m really pretty agitated. I have had to remind myself each morning that I do not smoke, and that is met with mild irritation, but I really do want to be a nonsmoker. I remember that the benefits of stopping greatly outweigh the costs. As a counselor-in-training I know about cost benefit analyses, calming techniques, and other strategies that will assist me when cravings arise. I know where to go for support and do not really have to make changes to my social circle in order to remove this substance from my life. It would seem that I have a distinct advantage over clients that may be going through this process alone or that realize they have to change many aspects of their lives that act as triggers. How completely overwhelming is that? It is easy to understand how relapse happens. I hope to remember the anxiety I am feeling currently when I am with a client who is recovering.
Although I am sure that I don’t want to begin smoking again, it is still anxiety provoking to think that I can never smoke again for the rest of my life. I may KNOW that it is bad for my health, but that does not discount the fact that I enjoy it. To think that if I decide to smoke again, I will be addicted again, and I will have to begin this process all over again is actually more frightening than just remaining a smoker, so that I don’t have to worry about relapse (failure). Hopefully the rest of my life is a long time and not doing something I enjoy seems really crappy right about now. I can see why clients are ambivalent and resistant to change.
My hope for writing is so that I will have a record of what I went through if I ever seriously contemplate smoking again. I can read what I have written and then decide if smoking is worth it. If my writings help anyone that has never been addicted or does not understand how folks can become addicted to substances or behaviors that often negatively effect lives, then I am glad to have written.
Unfortunately, blog posting wasn’t enough to stop the cravings, but at least it occupied some time.