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The Only Thing I Have Left: Smoking Cigarettes in Recovery

Smoking cigarettes is a common action within recovery and can be a security blanket. You may think that if you stop, your chances of relapse are higher. Many people utilize this thought process as an excuse to continue to smoke.

You have come this far in your recovery and thought about what your life would be like without nicotine.  Perhaps you love to smoke and see nothing wrong with it. Whatever category you are in, you have arrived here at the right time. This article will discuss smoking cigarettes in recovery and explore healthy coping skills through yoga, meditation, and individual therapy. It just may be time to kick this butt to the curb.

Why Do People Smoke Cigarettes in Recovery?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 65% to 85% of people in treatment smoke cigarettes. In most treatment centers, you are not allowed any mind-altering substances. Some centers do not allow energy drinks, and some do not permit caffeine. While this promotes an addiction-free atmosphere, there is one vice that you can hang onto.

Smoking cigarettes remains the single vice you turn to when all else fails. You smoke when you’re stressed, happy, or sad, and they are always there, no matter what. In the past, you would have turned to your substance of choice, but now you choose nicotine. It can be because when in treatment, you felt that there was nothing else to do. Or the emotions you were working on caused stress, and you wanted to separate yourself from the feelings you struggled to deal with.

Avoiding Emotions With Smoking Cigarettes

Any addiction is dangerous in recovery as you replace one thing with the next best thing. Within treatment, you learned that your behaviors are a result of bottled-up emotions. When you are not able to process how you think or feel, you bottle those emotions up. Most people want a quick fix to eliminate what is causing pain.

It is easy to distract yourself from your feelings and emotions with a cigarette. After all, there are many smoke-friendly establishments, and it is legal. You can talk yourself in and out of many thoughts and give yourself all the excuses, but you cannot undo the damage already done.

When in early sobriety, you recognize that drugs and alcohol are the problems and that eliminating them would improve your life. It was a long while before your mind pieced itself back together, and you began to feel your new normal. However, you continued to smoke cigarettes, and perhaps you have been in a space where your smoking has increased since you have been in recovery.

You may not recognize those behaviors at first, and perhaps you even wrestle with yourself as to what you are doing. Smoking cigarettes tends to be one of those behaviors. At the root, you may think that smoking is just a vice and not your “real” problem. However, one thing that needs to be established is that smoking can cause physical harm, just as your substance abuse did. Not to mention, smoking cigarettes increases the likelihood of relapse among people in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD).

How Do I Kick This Butt to the Curb?

No one said that this life would be easy and eliminating nicotine from your daily life is no exception. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are over 7,000 chemicals in only one cigarette, including more than 70 that cause cancer.

For example, did you know that arsenic is found in tobacco smoke? Or that you are breathing in poison each time you inhale? These are the things that tobacco companies do not want you to know, so you continue to buy their cigarettes.

Whether you are thinking about quitting next week or next year, you must have a plan. Quitting is tough, but you must recognize your reason for quitting and increase your chances of quitting for good. Below are some tips for those wishing to stop smoking cigarettes:

  • Find support: Individual therapy is a great resource to talk to a professional from an objective point of view.
  • Yoga/meditation: Gentle stretching can alleviate your body from feeling extra stress and tension. Meditation can bring a sense of calmness and relaxation to get you through tough moments.
  • Triggers: Take an inventory of all the things that trigger you and replace the cigarette with a healthy coping skill. This list may seem long initially, but do not be discouraged and keep going.
  • What is your why?: Acknowledging your reason to quit is just as important as quitting itself. Your why has to be stronger than your why not.

Cleaning up the Butts

No matter where you are in your recovery journey, there is always room for improvement. Whatever your cause for arriving here at this moment, you are noticed and recognized for your efforts. Acknowledging that you need a change within your life is hard work. Being the change is scary, but not doing anything about it can be terrifying. You have come this far. Do not stop now. Help is available for you to clean up your butts and never put ash out again.

This is not your first time thinking about quitting; however, you continue to think about it more and more. You recognize the dangers of smoking in recovery and how that can affect your overall way of life. The physical dangers can impact your health and wellness. You may feel nervous about being in a space of change. It is hard to process what this change may look like; however, it will be worth it. Taking responsibility for your health and wellness is essential for your recovery. At The Guest House, we understand your vulnerability, and with each step you take, we will support you and guide you with unconditional positive regard. Call us today at (855) 483-7800.