Back in the day (and at present) I facilitate addiction recovery groups, having sobered up in ’78 and eschewing nicotine since ’93.
Not all of these groups consist of ordinary citizens; some meetings I’ve held within the confines of penal institutions around the world and in court-ordered treatment facilities in the USA.
One such smoking cessation group comes to mind: I was once invited to help a group of female former inmates stop smoking. These women were housed in a lockdown facility, which allowed them to have their children with them while living there for a number of months.
I was informed that these folks had to comply – within a number of weeks – with a new non-smoking policy which was to be enforced with no exceptions.
Understandably, some individuals were anxious about the forthcoming policy.
I traveled a number of miles from Los Angeles to meet with the director, tour the facility, and then to be introduced to the women who’d be participating in this 10 week stop smoking group.
These women were given a copy of my book Escape from Nicotine Country and we began our first two-hour weekly session.
After each individual – in a gathering of fifteen persons – had an opportunity to share her personal smoking story, I encouraged each individual to photocopy and utilize the gradual smoking cessation daily log included in my book.
The group participants were quite concerned about the inevitable, impending no-smoking rule. They had no choice; they could lose an opportunity in this cutting-edge place that provided very real potential for a second chance, a new beginning.
Each week I poured my heart and soul into this special project.
One especially powerful simple relapse prevention technique in my presentation that most can grab onto instantaneously comes to mind. Whether a person is still in the process of gradually reducing the number of cigarettes smoked daily down to zero, or if an individual has already begun a nicotine-free life, one can effectively utilize the following: when an urge to smoke hits, immediately jump up, start marching in place, shake your hands and arms, take quick, deep breaths, sing or recite anything that pops into your head until the craving subsides.
These gals had fun with this classic distraction exercise, immediately putting it to good use.
At the end of ten consecutive weeks we had a number of successes.
“Well,” a representative of a donut shop group of smokers might opine, “after all that jumpin’ around, I’d need a cigarette! Hee-haw!” So be it, but some of us, actually a growing number of folks, are open to anything within reason that could potentially aid in our quest for freedom from nicotine, whether or not we’re facing a non-smoking policy in our immediate environment.