Avoiding nicotine relapse without losing friends

Jim Christopher Health Guide
  • A woman concerned about her dad's dilemma with his friends who still smoke indicated that her dad had wondered what the best course of action for him - a former smoker - might be when hanging around with them. He didn't want to relapse, yet he wanted to continue to hang out with his smoking buddies.


    Society, in general, is annoyed with a "reformed" person who comes across as overbearing, smug, self-righteous. We as members of our society - especially in our immediate circle of friends - want to belong and to fit in. Sometimes we suppress our real feelings, opting instead for more acceptable expressions. Sometimes this can be the best course. As a general rule of thumb - and for balance - an old therapist of mine, circa 1970, said "don't swallow sh*t, because it's indigestible."

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    Back to the aforementioned dad: I don't know any more specifics about the person, but broadly speaking, if friends hang out in a neutral place (translation: outdoors) they can enjoy each other's company as smokers smoke and ex- (or non) smokers avoid a serious health hazard, placing themselves upwind, perhaps at a sidewalk cafe table or one of the many "extended patios" restaurants have added to accommodate their smoking patrons who've not yet died. Gathering with friends in the home of a smoker can offer an opportunity for a friendly moment of truth. The ex-smoker dad could respectfully say that, as a former smoker, he finds it difficult to be in this enclosed setting, observing other folks smoking and inhaling second-hand smoke. He could explain that this is not easy for him, and, if necessary, will gladly step outside to be accommodating. Admittedly, this scenario is awkward. Some smokers are willing to accommodate their nonsmoking compadres by situating the nicotine delivery activity in their backyards or outdoors when hanging out with those who abstain.


    As a former smoker, I've found, more often than not, most smokers are courteous and agreeable. But what about her dad's concern that observing these behaviors and breathing in toxic tobacco fumes may reignite his own nicotine addiction?


    In seemingly unavoidable environmental situations, here's some stuff that can save the day - bearing in mind that we're each unique regarding our susceptibility to nicotine relapse. One thing's pretty clear and across the board for most of us: if we don't reintroduce the drug into our bodies, we won't reenter the nicotine cycle of addiction.


    When, then, nicotine is more or less in dad's face, he can deliberately, passionately feel to himself something along these lines: "My truth is that this sh*t HURTS me and I can't smoke this sh*t and get away with it. I'll be off and running again if I smoke; back to the sh*t that controlled me. I don't want to be sick from nicotine again! My life is mine; it doesn't belong to a [expletive] cigarette!"


    I hope this helps our dad in question; helps him develop and strengthen his new life, free from nicotine.


    Check out my website, quitnicotinenow.net. I look forward to being with you again next week.



Published On: March 21, 2008