Life in the nicotine-free lane

Jim Christopher Health Guide
  • “We’re tougher than we think we are!” So penned Larry (longtime sober alcoholic) recently in the SOS Newsletter. Larry was reflecting and sharing his life today, after 20 years off the sauce, and a number of years off nicotine.



    I’ve worked in the field of addiction recovery since the early eighties but I kept smoking until 1993. Although I’d been alcohol free since 1978, I shared smokes at breaks with folks I counseled regarding alcohol and drug addiction recovery, including Larry. Absurd? Atypical? Hardly! Just recently, yours truly spoke at two treatment facilities for parolees, and counselors shared that they still smoked. I’ve seen this often, even in recent years.

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    I’ve happily observed, however, many folks off nicotine and well into their new lives. At my age I’d likely be dealing with numerous nicotine-related health challenges if I’d continued to puff. For some years I’ve preferred a healthier diet; more fruits, veggies, fish and poultry and less junk. I exercise moderately and daily knowing that this is a great investment.


    There’s no room for cigarettes or booze in my life today; however, I don’t delude myself. My sobriety priority (abstinence from booze, mind-bending drugs and nicotine), as a separate issue from everything else, protects me from relapse, i.e., reintroducing these drugs into my system.




    So I’ve been participating in real life unencumbered by what I used to do blindly, without thinking. When one’s blinders are removed, one’s clear vision sparkles with the recognition of kindred souls, other folks who radiate even with life’s ups and downs – a drug-free, alcohol-free, nicotine-free existence. My eyes remained partially closed, however, until I at last shed my yellowed nicotine cocoon of thirty years. I actually avoid pain – the pain of active addiction and the resulting consequences – by the life I live today.



    Am I nauseatingly, terminally “perky”? Not on your life! Actually, I tend to be skeptical of folks who seem one-dimensional, i.e., always serene, cup of cocoa in hand with little or no opinion that might offend.



    Having expressed that, though, I will say that for the most part I embrace life with far less fear and shame than before. Although I contend with miniscule remnants of fear and shame today, I’ve changed for the better in many ways via self-empowerment. Nicotine remains smothered to sleep and out of the scene. Like Dracula, a powerful stake in the “heart” of nicotine is solid so long as I choose to not remove the stake via simply not smoking.



    Life after nicotine is fuller, richer, and less wheezy. When I sometimes travel to other cities, states and out of the country for my work, I thoroughly enjoy walking tours with younger people. I’ve been living this new way for a number of years and I continue to protect my healthy life proactively.



    Of course I’m closer to the end than the beginning, but so what! I’ve discovered some stuff in the process: “we’re tougher than we think we are” and a nicotine-free life is fun! Visit me at


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    I look forward to being with you next week.

Published On: April 16, 2008