These parades can often become good places to store collective experiences illustrating an important point. One point that's vital to our successful recovery is the understanding that this ain't no "nasty little habit"we're dealing with here.... it's drug addiction. Because tobacco is legal, and largely tolerated by the public at large, it's tempting to believe otherwise... and mortally dangerous. As long as we allow ourselves to believe it's a habit, we open ourselves to being trapped by the illusion that it is therefore something we can control -- that we can be a social user.... we can't... and if we try, we lose in a big way.
One powerful way of illustrating the true nature of this beast is by delving into our behavior as smokers a bit. Often, people (particularly nicotine junkies) tend to picture "drug addicts" as desperate people, willing to do anything to get their next fix, while viewing "smokers" as something different... something more refined and in control. In fact, it's common that somebody who's recently quit views a smoker with envy, imagining it to be a relaxing, enjoyable activity.
The truth is that the only real difference between the heroin addict and the nicotine addict is that the nicotine addict generally has easy, unrestricted access to his/her next fix; all you have to do is walk into a shop and plop down a few bucks/quid. We never needed to put ourselves through many of the seedy activities "drug addicts" have to go through for the simple reason; cigarettes aren't hard to get.... USUALLY.
Which brings me to the point of this little parade. Many of us have found ourselves in a situation where cigarettes suddenly weren't easily available. Maybe we were trying to quit... maybe we ran out late at night... Maybe we were on a boat, and accidentally dropped our cigarettes in the river... or couldn't find a lighter.... At times like these, we found ourselves in the shoes of "less acceptable addicts"; Desperate for a fix.
Joel describes a clinic participant who considered smoking a cigarette he found placed on top of a mens room urinal. Roger describes digging through a dumpster.
Let's call this "Have You Ever". You play like this. Relay something you've done in desperation for a fix. Start it out with "Have you ever" and describe your junky behavior. Finish by acknowledging, "I have. I'm an addict." I'll go first.
Have you ever thrown a pack of cigarettes in the bushes, knowing that you wouldn't smoke for the evening if you didn't have them, only to find yourself digging through the bushes at 2 in the morning, picking a snail off the pack, and sorting through the cigarettes to see which ones had been least damaged by the snail? I have. I'm an addict.
Have you ever been unable to drive after having a few drinks, but been out of cigarettes, so you called a taxi and paid them 10 dollars (plus the cost of the smokes) to have some delivered? I have. I'm an addict.
I've got more, but I'll leave them for now. I'll conclude by celebrating the fact that I haven't done anything like that for well over 8 months, because I broke the cycle of this addiction cold turkey. Now I'm freed from ever finding myself in such desperate straights again, as long as I remain committed to Never Taking Another Puff.
Bob (8 months, 2 weeks, 2 days 16 hours, 36 minutes, 25 seconds without a puff, and loving it)