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All People > Thomas3.20.2010 > Thomas3.20.2010 Blog > 2015 > March


The first casualty of addiction is the truth. First I lied to myself about my addiction, then I began to lie to others. Sometimes I even knew in my heart of hearts that I was lying.  Lying, evasion, deception, manipulation, spinning and other techniques for avoiding or distorting the truth became natural.

So how does a person who values honesty do that, you ask? One of the most effective ways I managed to reconcile that was personal exceptionalism which permitted me to  reference the unique, special considerations that at least in my own mind- happened to apply to my particular case.

The form of logic for this personal exceptionalism is:

  • Under ordinary circumstances and for most people smoking is undesirable/irrational;
  • My circumstances are not ordinary and I am different from most people;
  • Therefore smoking is not undesirable/irrational in my case - or not as undesirable/irrational as it would be in other cases.

Armed with this powerful tool of personal exceptionalism that is a virtual "Open Sesame" for every difficult ethical conundrum I faced, I was free to take whatever measures were required for the preservation and progress of my addiction, while simultaneously maintaining my allegiance to the principles that would certainly apply if only my case were not a special one. This is the basic mindset of "I can quit whenever I wish. I’ve done it dozens of times" and "If you had the problems I do you’d smoke, too!" plus  “ I don’t smoke that much and it’s my only vice!”

My personal exceptionalism, along with my willingness to lie both by commission and omission in the protection and furtherance of my addiction, placed a severe strain upon my relationships with the people I cared about the most - my Wife and my Sons. It didn’t take them long to conclude that I simply could not be believed in matters pertaining to my addiction. I may have sworn that I was Smober and intended to stay that way when in fact I was planning to smoke at my first opportunity; I minimized and concealed the amount of Sickerettes consumed; and I made up all manner of excuses and alibis whose usually transparent purpose was to provide me the room it required to continue smoking.

Is it any wonder that my Family who first responded to my sincere sounding promises of reform with relief, hope and at times even joy soon became disillusioned and bitter? I managed to consider myself the victim of the unfairness and unreasonableness of those  who were forever harping on my addiction and the consequences that flow from it. "Leave me alone," I would snap. "I’m not hurting anybody but myself!" I had become almost totally blind to how my addictive behavior did in fact harm those around me who care about me; and I had grown so confused that hurting only myself had begun to sound like a rational, even a virtuous thing to do!

As the addictive process claimed more of my Self and my World my addiction became my primary relationship to the detriment of all others. Strange as it sounds to speak of a dead leaf as a love object, this is precisely what happened.  When my Family sensed their own secondary "less than" status in relation to the addiction - and despite my passionate and indignant denials of this reality, they were right: I did indeed loved my addiction more than I loved them!

The day I came to BecomeanEx I was desperate! I had virtually no computer skills, no experience with such things as My Space or Facebook, no knowledge of what I might find or if it would even help! All I knew is that I had a chronic, progressive, incurable smoking related illness. The thought that I might need education on Nicotine Addiction struck me as ironic! Who might know more about Nicotine than me, an Addict? And I already had decided what Recovery meant to me.

Recovery meant life-long deprivation. I envisioned year after year of desperately wanting but being unable to smoke. It ought to be no surprise to anyone that I chose to pass up the chance to embrace it. Thanks - but no thanks! Had I not been diagnosed with COPD I might still be lying to myself about Nicotine Addiction and Recovery.

It turned out that I had a lot to learn! First I had to learn to be brutally honest with myself. I had to admit that I would say or do just about anything just to get to that next puff! In other words, I had to admit that I am a hard core Addict!

I became aware that taking away isn’t the answer. The more important question is, “What will you do instead?”

I had to know that I wasn’t “hopelessly addicted” nor was I “able to quit (for awhile) whenever I want!” I had to make the tough knowledgeable decision that the physical withdrawal was just the beginning – the deepest hook was/is the psychological withdrawal and that doesn’t happen in a few days – it takes ….however long it takes!

As for personal exceptionalism, Yes, I am EXceptional but my Addiction is not. In fact, it’s rather ordinary, routine, predictable. You may even relate to most or all of it. And like all Addicts I have to follow the one governing Law of Addiction:

 “Administration of a drug to an Addict will cause reestablishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance.”

I can be blindly led by this Law like the Law of Gravity which allows me to sit in this chair and type this Blog or I can learn to honor it in all of it’s complex ramifications.

I had to admit that I had put Sickerettes first before my Wife, before my Sons! I had to make amends – and sincerely mean it! No more “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” lies! I learned that if Sickerettes are my Best Friend, then people can’t be, now can they?

And little by little I reclaimed myself – one TRUTH at a time.

For awhile there, maybe even a long while, I thought of Tobacco as my Enemy. I don’t think that way anymore. Tobacco isn’t my Friend and it isn’t my Enemy. It’s simply a dead leaf wrapped in paper and dipped in thousands of chemicals. PERIOD. Nothing to Romance and Nothing to Fear! Nothing of Value whatsoever!

Here it is 5 Years later and I’m still learning because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace. ( Luke 1 78-79) Recovery is truly the Gift from on High that gives more and more each Day, each Month, each Year – as long as we say, “Yes, Lord, Here I am!”


We all know the saying, The TRUTH will set you FREE! (John 8:32) And that’s EXactly what happened! Little by little I shined the light of Truth on all of those deceptions and replaced them with a fresh way of living. Recovery became nothing more or less than the recovery of LIFE itself. It is about reclaiming my God-given Self, not merely giving up Sickerettes. Addiction by its very nature is a form of bondage, even slaveryRecovery is the recovery of life, MY LIFE, and of freedom.


I have been truly Blessed! Who needs a Dead Leaf?


The New ME!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Mar 17, 2015

 "Life isn't about finding yourself. It's about creating yourself." 
George Bernard Shaw

Because I chose to quit smoking on March 20, 2010 and have decided to protect my quit each and every day since then:

I got my Brain Health back

-         I got my moods back

-         I have less anxiety and depression

-         I have increased my Memory Ability, Planning, Decision Making and Overall Brain Function(I.Q.)

-         I have decreased  my chances of developing Dementia

-         I have improved my odds against Stroke

-         I have reclaimed my Dopamine Receptor System (feel good hormones)

I got my Vision Health back

-         I have reduced my chances of Macular Degeneration, Cataracts, Optic Nerve Damage, and Blindness

-         I have improved my Night Blindness

I now give sufficient Oxygen to my Cochlea, preventing Hearing Loss

My teeth are cleaner and healthier. They’re white – not yellow.

My tongue is clean and food tastes better.

I have fewer Mouth Sores, Ulcers and Gum Disease

I have spared myself of Nose, Larynx, Trachea, Esophagus, Throat and/or Mouth Cancer

I got my Appetite back

I have less Belly Fat and stronger Muscles

I took control of my COPD

-         I cough less

-         My Bronchitis and Lung Capacity is steady

-         I have fewer Colds and Flus, less chance of Pneumonia

-         I have reduced my chances of Lung Cancer

I have healthier Heart

-         My blood vessels are clear of plaque and Fatty Deposits

-         My blood clotting is more natural

-         I have lower Blood Pressure

-         I have reduced chance of Blood Cancer

-         I have reduced chance of Heart Disease

I have improved Bone Health

-         I have reduced my chances of Bone Marrow Cancer

-         I have mitigated Osteoporosis

-         I have prevented Bone Loss

My fingers are no longer Yellow! Fingernails are healthy pink

I have improved my chances against Liver, Stomach, Pancreas, Kidney, Bladder, Colon and Rectum Cancer.

I have reduced my risk of Erectile Disfunction

My Skin has good color, fewer wrinkles

My Hair is soft, smooth and doesn’t smell bad

I have decreased my risk of Diabetes

Of the leading causes of death I have improved my odds for:

(1)  Heart Disease

(2)  Cancer

(3)  Chronic Respiratory Disease


(6) Alzheimer’s Disease

(7) Diabetes

(8) Influenza and Pneumonia

I am literally creating a NEW ME!

YOU can, too!

Today is a Great Day to Live Smoke FREE!

Find yourself in a comfortable position, allowing yourself to sink into the surface below you. Gradually allow your eyes to relax and close.

Turn your attention to your breathing. Breathe in, allowing the breath to go all the way down to your belly for 4 counts. Hold your breath for 7 counts and breathe out ever so slowly to a count of 8. Repeat this 4/7/8 pattern of breathing two more times. Let your breath return to a slow calm pattern.

Now imagine yourself in a safe, comfortable place outside. You walk along a path among the trees. Feel the rhythm of your footsteps, the swing of your arms as they brush your sides. Smell the flowers in bloom along the side of your pathway. Listen to the birds singing in the tree branches. Notice the squirrels playing around the base of this tree, the branches of that one.

As you walk a little further you notice a small lake. There’s a bench where you can sit down. As you settle onto the bench, take a nice refreshing deep breath and smell the water. Watch the shimmer of the waves on the surface of the lake.


Now that you are getting the oxygen you need, realize that your only job right now is to keep yourself as comfortable as possible while the craving passes. Fighting against the craving only makes it stronger, so right now, accept that you are feeling anxious and you want a cigarette but you can choose to focus on calming your thoughts to relieve the anxiety of the crave and the compulsion to smoke.

Repeat the following phrases:

I am feeling a craving right now, but I am okay. This feeling will pass, and no harm will come to me. I am safe, even though I feel anxious. I will soon be calm, even though I want a cigarette right now. I will get through this. I am making myself as comfortable as possible while I wait for the craving to cease. I can help myself to become gradually more calm and relaxed until this feeling passes.

Continue with even breathing and calm thoughts.

On the inhale tell yourself "I am becoming more and more calm,"

On the exhale tell yourself "I am feeling more and more relaxed."

Inhale "Calm"

Exhale "Relaxed"

Notice how your muscles are relaxing. As you drink in fresh air, allow it to spread throughout your body. If there are some particular muscles that feel tense, gently direct your focused breathing to that muscle group allowing the oxygen to relieve the stress there….And then exhale any remaining stress and tension…

Now sit quietly enjoying the beauty of the lake and the trees around you. Feel the warmth of the Sun and a cool breeze gently touching your skin. Take yourself back in time. Try recalling what it was like before getting hooked, the beauty of going days, weeks, and months without once wanting to smoke. Can you remember the calm and quiet mind you once called home? If not, you are not alone! But you can imagine it now!

How will you feel 2 Years from now….or 5?

 Imagine looking in a mirror and seeing fewer wrinkles as your Collagen repairs. Your complexion is clear and rosy. The whites of your eyes have ceased to be bloodshot. Your teeth and tongue feel and taste clean. Take a close look at your fingernails, all pink and healthy again – not stained and yellow. Your hair is shiny and soft.

Feel your regular strong heartbeat, your deep, clean breath, even your bloodflow is more regular and natural as it carries vitamins and minerals to every cell of your body. Your whole body is working in harmony as it is meant to be.

And your mind is FREE of the stress of wanting, needing a cigarette. You rarely even think of them and when you do, it’s in celebration of your conquest over addiction. Your whole environment becomes cleaner, healthier, more life affirming!

Bring in as many details of your smoke FREE World as you can….

Now, as the meditation comes to a close, slowly bring your awareness back into the room. Bring with you whatever sensations of relaxation…comfort…peace…calm, whatever’s there…knowing that you can repeat this exercise at any appropriate time and place of your choosing…

And when you’re ready, open your eyes.

The aerosol particles emitted from vaping are so tiny they can actually seep through paint on walls — the pores in the paint would look like Swiss cheese in comparison to the particle size.

The emissions from e-cigarettes are just water vapor, right? Wrong.

The “vapor” emitted from an e-cig is actually not water vapor, but more like an aerosol gas, as the emissions consist of tiny particles that contain nicotine, glycerin/glycols, artificial flavorings and preservatives, among other chemicals, according to a new study from RTI International.

And the warm, humid conditions of the lungs seem to prevent these aerosol particles from evaporating — which is cause for concern. This is just one of the learnings gleaned from an expert panel that convened on Thursday to discuss the latest research in vaping.


The takeaway: E-cigarette emissions — whether you yourself are vaping or if you’re standing next to someone who is — have an immediate effect on your acute lung function.


A big concern is the size of the particles, according toJonathan Thornburg, Ph.D., author of the study and a senior research engineer and director of Exposure and Aerosol Technology at RTI International. “They are smaller than 1,000 nanometers, 50 times smaller than the width of a human hair,” he says. “They can stay airborne for a long time, and penetrate into the deepest part of our lungs.”


The extremely minute size of the particles actually ups their penetrative powers, which is causing experts to wonder what the impacts will be for tissues inside the body. Stanton Glantz, Ph.D., professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, says the aerosol particles emitted are so tiny they can actually seep through the paint on painted walls. If you scaled that representation to size, the pores in the paint would look something like Swiss cheese in comparison to the particle size — which might cause imminent problems.


We may see vastly different health effects result from of e-cigarette use than we do from conventional cigarettes. Because they don’t burn anything and there’s a lack of combustion, fewer cancer-causing chemicals are emitted. However, e-cig emissions are still composed of ultra-fine particles with nicotine and numerous other potentially damaging additives. “Even some of the flavorings are dangerous — like cinnamon, if you inhale it, can be quite toxic,” Glantz says. “It’s a different risk profile. Some toxicologists think it’s inappropriate to even compare e-cigarettes to tobacco cigarettes.”


Glantz thinks we may eventually discover more heart-related consequences associated with vaping. “Exposure to the ultra-fine particles inhibits blood vessels to get larger when they need to, and makes platelets sticky, which leads to more heart attacks,” he says. “The particle effects are a big factor. The oxidizing agents also oxidize cholesterol, which leads to heart disease and heart attacks.”


And that doesn’t just go for e-cig emissions. Similar health issues also might result in areas of high air pollution, too. “It’s important to understand that heart attacks are triggered,”Glantz continues. “The ultra-fine particles lead to inflammation, which can actually trigger a heart attack.”


Ultimately, when asked flat-out about safety, the panel concluded that e-cigarettes are probably not as harmful as standard cigarettes. “We know that the level of carcinogens and toxins are lower,”says Thornburg.


That said, there was no endorsement for unending use.


“They’re not as dangerous as cigarettes, but they’re not safe,”Glantz says. “You are better off not using them. The question is how much safer are they than regular cigarettes?”


To put it in better perspective, Glantz also offers this: “They are less toxic than a cigarette, but the cigarette is probably the most toxic consumer product ever designed. It’s a low bar.”


And although many ingredients are regarded as generally safe by the FDA upon ingestion, the effects upon inhalationaren’t well understood or studied, leaving a need for better clarity — especially with the prevalence of e-cigarettes taking off in recent years. Since 2007, e-cig sales have doubled each year, finally reaching the $1 billion mark in 2013.


Roughly 13 percent of adults have tried vaping, one-third of whom had never before smoked conventional cigarettes, according to Annice Kim, Ph.D., a senior social scientist in the Public Health Policy Research Program at RTI. “Eight percent of current tobacco smokers also use e-cigarettes,” says Kim, who is currently tracking vaping trends on social media and among key demographics, like kids and teens.


“The trends are alarming,” she says. “Seventeen percent of 12th graders have used e-cigarettes in the past month. To date, 40 states have prohibited e-cigarette sales to minors, but as of January 1, 2015, only four states have banned e-cigarette use in schools statewide.”



The first peek at a major study of how Americans smoke suggests many use combinations of products, and often e-cigarettes are part of the mix.

It's a preliminary finding, but it highlights some key questions as health officials assess electronic cigarettes.

"Are e-cigarettes a step toward a cigarette smoker getting off of cigarettes? Or are e-cigarettes a crutch so they can get nicotine in places and times when they wouldn't normally be allowed to smoke cigarettes?" asked Andrew Hyland of theRoswell Park Cancer Institute, the primary investigator for a huge government study of trends in smoking and tobacco use.

Hyland's study is one of a number of projects that scientists are watching as they explore the public health implications of e-cigarettes.

Multiple sources of nicotine

At a meeting of nicotine researchers, Hyland presented preliminary findings from the first 20,000 people to enroll in the study, a baseline as the Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health track how use of tobacco products, or alternatives like tobacco-free e-cigarettes, is evolving.

A fraction — 28 percent of adults and nearly 9 percent of youths — reported they currently use any type of tobacco product, Hyland said.

About 40 percent of those current tobacco users report using two or more products. And half say battery-powered e-cigarettes are one of the multiple products they use, Hyland found. In fact, the most common combination was cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, said the early findings showing use of more than one type of tobacco product are compelling and underscore "how popular e-cigarettes have become."

Ultimately, the PATH study — it stands for Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health — will follow 46,000 people ages 12 and older over five years, a source of information as FDA decides how to regulate tobacco-related products.

Why the extra interest in e-cigarettes?

Policymakers are debating the health effects of "vaping" as it grows in popularity. Many anti-smoking advocates consider e-cigarettes a safer alternative for smokers who can't or don't want to quit altogether.

E-cigarettes work by heating liquid nicotine into an inhalable vapor. They contain fewer toxic substances than burning traditional cigarettes. But health officials warn that they shouldn't be considered harmless and say much more needs to be known about long-term effects.

Critics ask if they keep smokers addicted or even act as a gateway to hook new users who eventually try tobacco.

Adults vs. kids

Concern about e-cigarettes grew after a different government study in December found some teens who'd never smoked a real cigarette were trying out the electronic kind.

"Is it a passing fancy or something that sticks with them?" Wilson Compton, deputy director of NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in an interview with The Associated Press. He hopes that over the next few years, the new PATH study will help tell.

The FDA has proposed regulating e-cigarettes, including banning sales to minors, a step that many states already have taken.

How much nicotine?

No one knows if experimenting with e-cigarettes poses as much risk of hooking someone as experimenting with regular cigarettes, Compton said.

Nicotine levels vary widely by type of e-cigarette, from small amounts to nearly as much as a traditional cigarette, he said. Users learn to puff a bit differently as they draw in vapor, and even the voltage in the device's wires may affect nicotine delivery, he explained. NIDA plans to fund development of what Compton calls a "standard e-cigarette" that will be a yardstick for comparison with the different e-cigarettes on the market.

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