Stories & experiences

Hacksaw Harry
Mid North Coast

One Day at a Time

Posted in Staying quit 31 Oct 2019

21 years ago I was a hopeless alcoholic wreck. My drinking had cost me everything important in my life and most of that which wasn't particularly important. Finally, after my umpteenth attempt, I staggered into AA and got sober. Five years later when my sobriety was fairly secure, I decided it was time to do something about my smoking.

There were no NicAnon (Nicotine Anonymous) meetings in my town but I was able to use many of the principles of AA to help me stay away from the cigarettes. Mostly mental strategies, but then it was always my head which lead me back to the smokes. Here are a few:

*One day at a time. (In the early stages I had to do it one minute at a time)

*I only have to be one day off the ciggies once. If I don't light up I never have to face that first day, that first week etc again.

*How Important is it? That thing that is driving me nuts - is it worth dying for?

*Prayer. Even if you don't believe in it. Try it, it does calm the nerves.

*How bad are the withdrawals? I asked myself this. At times I thought I was going nuts but when I slowed down and took an objective look at them I realised my withdrawal symptoms were no worse that a cold or a mild stomach bug. Not even bad enough to take time off work. (I realise things are different for everyone; this was my experience)

It also helped to find someone to quit with, and when I did my quit friend and I shared openly about how we felt.

I armed myself with everything I could. I had a video, I think it was called The Easy Way to Quit Smoking. What I took from this was a better understanding of the nature of addiction, of the con job nicotine had done on my body and mind. The following paraphrase was very important to me:

Understand that nicotine does absolutely nothing for you except satisfy the craving for nicotine. That's it. Nicotine does not calm your nerves; it actually increases your pulse and blood pressure, aggravating your nerves. It does calm down the craving for nicotine and this feels like a nerve tonic. But that is the con. All it has done is ease the craving for the very thing that caused the anxiety.

Understanding this helped me enormously. I wish I could be sure of the proper title and the author of this video. It was tremendous.

I hope reading this is of help to someone. Quitting the fags has been tough, but so rewarding. I feel better, that horrible black cloud no longer hangs over me. I used to be terrified of what I was doing to my health.

It is now about 16 years since I quit and today I rarely think of smoking. I am free. What a blessing!

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  • Happiness October 31, 2019 | 16:20
    What great advice Hacksaw. I had heard that AA steps were recommended in the quit smoking process. Thank you for outlining them for our understanding and use.

    I have always believed that understanding Nicotine gives you a better handle on the situation and how to come to terms with it. Having the support of others who know what you are going through and who you can count on giving you support, advice or com-mensuration is also vital. We need to stay strong and positive to get through the rough spots.

    Might i ask why you joined today and wrote such a wonderful message to those who need this kind of inspiration? 16 years smoke free and not a regret is awesome. So is your 21 years of sobriety. Congratulaitons on both counts, and thank you for sharing your story with us.
  • Happiness October 31, 2019 | 17:03
    Hello again Hacksaw. I loved your story so much that i not only marked it as a favorite but copied this link under my page of "Group Participation Hints and Tips". I would hate for this inspirational story chocked full of great advice to be lost in the back pages over time.

    If anyone wishes to add what aided them most in their quits to help make others journeys easier, please follow this link:

    I again invite all to participate and hope it will be of help to those learning the ropes. Freedom is possible. Believe and you can do it.
  • Hacksaw, Mid North Coast November 01, 2019 | 8:59
    What prompted me to write after 16 years? There are a number of reasons, not least was losing a good friend to lung cancer recently. He thought he had a chest cold, until the X-ray.
    I have the time to write now and that's a biggie.
    I suppose the biggest reason is that I have a daughter whom I see struggling to quit the cigarettes. This has inspired me to get involved.

    Just a footnote to my original post. What I outlined are some inspirayional sayings that people in AA use to help one another. They are not the 12 steps of AA which begin 1/ We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.

    The 12 steps have been used for many addictions, most notably alcohol, gambling over eating and narcotics. There are many, including myself who believe they can be adapted to any addiction. In big cities there are Nic/anon groups that meet regularly and work the steps.

  • Hacksaw, Mid North Coast November 01, 2019 | 9:05
    Oops. Inspirational. Someone must have altered my keyboard. cheers

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