Inevitable Relapse? It Ain’t Necessarily So!

Jim Christopher Health Guide
  • I suspect halting an addiction to cigarettes (and other drugs, for that matter) happens most effectively, solidly, enduringly when an individual experiences (develops) a gut-level revulsion (aversion) for same in this respect: he or she emotionally and intellectually catapults (or gradually pushes) cigarette smoking into the same arena as "immediate flight" stuff, e.g., yanking one's hand away from a roaring fire or escaping as fast as humanly possible from a collapsing edifice. After yanking or escaping, most folks fear/respect this stuff and are loathe to repeat same. This "separate-issue-numero-uno-priority" approach is how yours truly stopped boozing over thirty years ago and stopped smoking over fifteen years ago.

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    Susan stopped by my office - as she does from time to time - to pick up some materials for the SOS all-addictions recovery support meeting that she chairs one night a week. She'd expressed concern regarding some of the folks in recovery relapsing due to what they'd referred to as "the f__k-its!" I've also heard the relinquishing of one's recovery priority (aka relapse) referred to as "oh-what-the-hell-my-life-sucks-anyway-so-I-might-as-well-smoke-cigarettes,-drink-booze (if applicable) etc...."


    We agreed that if a recovering person has really bought the idea both cognitively and viscerally, i.e., acknowledged, accepted, prioritized as a separate issue from all else in life, that one cannot smoke cigarettes (drink booze, etc.) and get away with it, then one will maintain one's addiction arrest and not likely relapse. If one sees (feels) the following as an individual arrested-addiction truth: "Whatever else is happening in my life - even if I momentarily experience the self-esteem of a slug, even if I doubt myself severely at times - I still value and cling to my nicotine-addiction arrest as my precious (pain-avoidance) achievement so that ‘oh-what-the-hell-my-life-sucks-anyway,' i.e., ‘the f__k-its!' are experienced as separate issues from reaching for a cigarette, thrusting my hand into a roaring fire, rushing into a collapsing edifice, skipping into the path of an oncoming freight train, and drinking Drano®, leaping from a mountain top, etc.


    Substance addiction is deadly serious, we agreed, and although life can be filled with both humor and heartache, we can feel confident - not complacent with our powerfully arrested addictions in the face of come-what-may. Smoking (for an ex-smoker) only exacerbates come-what-may.


    And we all support you in your quest for a nicotine-free life and wish for you a healthy, happy, and passionate recovery!


    Visit me at I look forward to being with you again next week.


Published On: January 28, 2009