Smoking and AA-Part 3 Fair Weather Friend of AA
Fair Weather Fan of AA-Part 3
So, of course, as promised I told you I would explain why I find it difficult to attend AA meetings. My part 3 focuses on a bad habit I picked up at AA. Perhaps this is only the 10+ locations I have attended, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Reminder: this is my blog, not a textbook. Correction: smoking is not a bad habit, it is an addictive drug I picked up at AA.
So, let's start off with a habit that I quit 7 years ago. I was a smoker. I started in high school because "everyone was doing it". I probably got hooked because of my undiagnosed anxiety that a lot of young girls have. I started modeling and smoking kept that extra 1 inch off my hips. I moved to London where EVERYONE smoked. We actually had a smoking room at my workplace. Then, I became a serious drinker. Guess what? Serious drinkers smoked in 2002. I moved to Chicago. At this point, I had been a pack to a pack and half a day smoker for a decade. When I first moved to Chicago, you could smoke in bars. But, one fateful winter, they changed this rule. Guess what? You do not want to go outside in -20 degrees windchill at a bar and smoke. I took Chantix and I quit. I became a nonsmoker. It was wonderful. Smoking stunk and cost too much. And, it KILLS you. I quit smoking for 7 years.
Fast forward to my very first 12 step meeting after quitting drinking. I was vulnerable. I was desperate. I was having withdrawls. I needed help. Another AA member handed me a cigarette. Guess what she called it? "A coping skill." I had not smoked for 7 years. I hated smoking. But, yet someone offered me a cigarette at a meeting where I was looking for help to squash addiction? Yeah. I smoked that first cigarette like it was a blessing from God Himself. Standing outside the meeting, people were bonding about sobriety, smoking. Guess what...I smoked the next pack and the next one and so on...
So, here I stand. I am not judging AA as a program that helps. It does. I am simply pointing out how it has serious flaws. Smoking DID NOT help me. Smoking IS NOT a coping skill. This is a huge flaw I see in AA. I have to walk through a cloud of smoke to get in the doors. I have to sit next to someone who smells like cigarettes and occassionally alcohol. I was a smoker and a drinker for multiple decades of my life. Both kill you. Both are highly addictive. Why is this ok? Because the Big Book says it is ok?
In my 3rd month sober, I kicked the habit of smoking. It was a very hard thing to do, but it was what I wanted beyond belief. I hated being a smoker. It killed my grandmother. It has killed many loved ones. And, thanks to that cloud of smoke next to the door in AA, I had to kick smoking and drinking at the same time. Do I take accountability for smoking that first cigarette in AA? Yes. I take accountability for the hundreds I smoked after I smoked that one in AA. Am I bitter about my journey? No. Do I think AA needs to evolve? Yes. This is not the 1930s anymore, y'all.
So, this is my message to everyone. Smoking kills. Smoking is not a "coping skill." Smoking is an addictive drug. Do not subsitute one addiction for another. The goal is to live addiction free, not to rearrange the chairs on the Titanic.
The world has acknowledged the dangers of smoking. You want to quit? Do it.