Friday, December 28, 2007


I hope everyone is having great holidays. I sure am! I was in Chicago with my son for Christmas with his Grandma and Grandpa. This was the first trip back there in three years. Three years ago today, I had just gotten back to California, after taking my son there for Christmas. Hmmmm...

(No, no, don't worry, I have a good chance of staying sober today. I have one of those pesky meeting commitments tonight, that always seem to get in the way of a quick bender.)

Anyway, it was one of the best Christmases I can remember. Seeing it through the eyes of a five-year-old brings out the magic of Christmas. I reluctantly gave up "magical thinking" when I got sober. You know: "If I do this one dramatic/decisive/astonishing/brilliant (i.e., ridiculous/crazy/stupid) thing, everything will get better and I'll be happy." I didn't have to do anything to make the magic happen this Christmas -- it just happened!


It's been 34 days since I had a cigarette. Pretty soon I just may change my little smoking counter from hours to days.

I've frequented an online smoking cessation forum, and it helps a lot. I've hooked up with a few people, "Quit Buddies" they're called, and we stay in close touch by email. It seems to informally replicate some of the sponsor/sponsee relationship in AA. Except there's no steps, it's between equals, and none of my quit buddies has demanded that I wash their car or has asked to borrow money. Other than that, it's pretty much the same! LOL

Anyway, the forum reminds me of how much time I devoted to blogging in my early months of sobriety. I miss it! Why don't I get back to spending more time blogging with the wonderful recovering people in blogtopia!? Oh, yeah -- I have a job now. Oh, and 50% custody of my son. And then there's the fellowship commitments. I suppose these are all good things... but I still miss blogging with everyone! :)

Thursday, December 06, 2007


I've played with statistics here before, and I tend to be pretty skeptical of statistics about prevalence of substance abuse. How do you define and measure recovery? How can you believe what an alcoholic/addict tells you about their alcohol/drug use?

That being said, I started wondering about smoking among alcoholics -- specifically, how many smokers are alcoholics/druggies? So I found some statistics.

I've seen statistics, and heard anecdotes and observed, that 80%-90% of alcoholics are or were smokers. Let's call it 70% for the sake of argument.

Government statistics indicate 21% of adults smoke. Let's call it 25%, since the respondents probably lied.

Now the really tricky piece: what percentage of the population is alcoholic/addict? This is pure guesswork, IMHO. I've seen guesses range from about 10% to about 25%. Let's call it 15%.

Okay, using these guesses: of those ten people freezing on the loading dock on their smoke break, four are alcoholics and/or druggies. That's right: crank through these not-unreasonable numbers, and you can expect over 40% of the smokers you see to abuse other substances.

I don't know about you, but I never really thought about smoking as an indicator of other addictions. Turns out it's probably not a bad clue that someone has serious problems with more than tobacco.


Which gives me additional perspective on the smoking-cessation support forums on the web. The one at is great, the people are terrific, it really helps me a lot. The approach is so different from 12-step recovery, though. I keep wanting to post, "Of course we can't quit, of course we relapse, of course we don't have the will-power, of course we're too weak to stop, of course we are picking fights with people. We're addicts and we're powerless!" There's no way I can approach cigarettes as anything but incinerated alcohol.

It's fascinating to me that 12-step recovery dominates overcoming every addiction you can name -- except smoking. There is, in fact, Nicotine Anonymous, but it has nothing like the status of 12-stepping for other addictions. Why do we turn alcohol, drugs, over-eating, sex obsession and codependence over to a Higher Power, but depend on self-will to overcome nicotine?

I'm not saying it's good or bad, it's just interesting that we, as a society and culture, treat nicotine differently. As for me, as I said, I have to 12-step my smoking or I'm lost.


I've been reminded of some of our AA sayings about days and years. You sometimes hear, when an oldtimer relapses, "He had too many years and not enough days." I've heard, and said myself: "The years come easy. It's the days that are hard."

I've got my smoking counter on this blog in hours. My sobriety counter is in days, but I can only remember my days to the nearest hundred or so.

A day is a BIG deal to me again! :)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

No Smoking. Inventory In Progress.

This is the longest I've gone without smoking in years. Today is Day 11.

It reminds me a LOT of early sobriety. I don't know what to do with myself, because my routine is disrupted and I'm consciously not doing what comes naturally to me. I tell myself the familiar lies, and I still believe them: "Just one pack, then I'll never have the urge again." It's a good reminder to this alcoholic of how my brain works and that I can never, ever take my sobriety for granted.

I'm grateful to find myself putting recovery to work with smoking. I can recognize the lies I tell myself. I can take it one day, one hour, one moment at a time. I let God handle it, because I can't. I don't worry about smoking tomorrow. I'm a smoker, an addict, and smoking is what I do -- there's no reason to expect I won't smoke tomorrow. But I'm not smoking right now, this minute, and that's a gift from God and I will be grateful for it. I will pray for the willingness to let God handle it when tomorrow comes, too.

The obsession to smoke has not been lifted yet. It's good to be reminded how it was before the obsession to drink was lifted. And it's good to have the experience of having that obsession lifted, so I know it can happen with cigarettes, too.


I'm leading a step study (which basically means I have the key to the room we meet in), and we're on Step Four. Last night we had an inventory-writing session. I looked at my first fourth step from three years ago for the first time since doing steps six and seven. How marvelous to look at the resentments and fears I had, to acknowledge them again, and to recognize how many of them I have let go of! I know I need to dig a little deeper, and get beyond the general feeling of relief and well-being I have since the recent resolution of the main issues of my divorce. Even so, it's gratifying to see this fourth step looks a lot like a tenth step.

It's astonishing. I don't work anything like a great program -- I think it's pretty half-assed, actually. All I bring to it is a little willingness, a little humility, a little service I do resentfully, some inconsistent gratitude. In return, I've been showered with blessings totally out of proportion to the effort and commitment I put into it. The blessings and miracles are so plentiful I end up hardly noticing them a lot of the time -- yes, take them for granted -- until I take a good look with something like a step-four inventory.

Recovery -- particularly AA and the doors it has opened -- continues to amaze me, surprise me and exhilirate me.