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Sometimes I look around and say to myself, “How the Heck did I get this old?” 57 isn’t old-old but it was when I was 30! I thought I had all the time in the world! Now I know that 20 or 30 Years go past us in the blink of an eye!

I work with young folks, most younger than my Sons! I don’t realize it until I hear about what Year they were born or I see them acting very immature unti I realize that it’s because they are still just kids in many ways!

My clients are very old people, most in their 90s or 100+. Often I find myself relating more to them than to my coworkers! Then I know I’m definitely not 30 any more!

You could say I’m the bridge in between – the Sandwich Generation. The last of the Baby Boomers. Our parents expected us to do everything better than them: better education, better houses, better cars, better everything! These days we don’t hold youngsters accountable to that standard! I find this good and bad. Good in that it’s much harder to graduate from College and work the same job until retirement these days. Bad in that it shouldn’t be that way!

What got me thinking of all this is that I’ve sort of been living life on the fast track lately! I started reflecting on my never ending motivation to do more!

I think I got a second lease on life when I found out about COPD and quit smoking simultaneously! I was literally killing myself! Now I’m not! So I want to cram as much into every day as I possibly can!

The problem is that it’s unbalanced! The best way to be the best we can be is with balance. I need creative, productive, busy time. But I also need down time – do nothing time. Thomas Days sprinkled with being rather than doing!

One thing’s for sure, though! Every sickerette I smoked cost 6-10 minutes of my time. That’s a whole lot of wasted life! Since I quit I haven’t smoked 156,632 minutes which comes to around 108.77 days that I have had available for real living! Now I just have to find a way to use it wisely!

Doing is Great! Being is even BETTER! I’ll find the way….


Believe It or Not....

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jul 25, 2015

There will come a time when you no longer want a sickerette! 

You might follow a pattern like mine of 


Love/Hate (that's when I quit!)


Hate, again!

And eventually believe it or not...

Lack of Interest!

They just don't do anything for me, now! I don't feel magnetism or repulsion, 

I feel nothing! 

After all they are inanimate objects, right?

Just a dead leaf wrapped in paper and dipped into thousands of deadly chemicals. 

Some'll feel just the same - NOTHING AT ALL!


Making ME a Priority!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jul 24, 2015

When I was a smoker, I was an out-of-shape couch potato who loved junk food, soda and beer. I knew it was fundamentally wrong but it seemed hypocritical to me to worry about such things as nutrition and exercise while smoking cancer sticks!

In order to maintain my Addiction I had learned to neglect and/or minimize the importance of my Body. I “justified” it by staying in my head a lot! “At least I respect my Brain”, I said in my ignorance! I didn’t get that Nicotine Addiction is a Brain Disorder of the highest type! I wasn’t aware of the mental distortions I put myself through so I could continue to use my favorite Drug of Choice!

Well, God has a way of promptly bringing our darkness into the Light of Day! Hence, I was brought to Smobriety with a Body disorder. And not just any Disorder – Oh, He knows us soooo well! I have a chronic, progressive, incurable smoking related illness! In His Love for me, the Good Lord showed me that Nicotine Addiction was making me BLIND!

I was diagnosed on March 14, 2010 and quit 6 days later on March 20. I never picked up another Sickerette again! How could I? I could no longer hide under the smoke cloud of Addiction!

In these 5 Years since, I have completely changed my perspective. Not just about Addiction and Nicotine but about my Body and my Brain!

 Now, my Brain has been FREED of it’s captivity to Addiction and I can of my own Free Will pick up a Sickerette throwing away 5 Years of progress OR NOT! I get to DECIDE! In the midst of Addiction I didn’t have that choice – I had to smoke! My Brain even told me that I wanted to smoke! All for a hit of Dopamine! Sick….twisted….controlled by a dead leaf wrapped in paper and dipped in thousands of deadly chemicals! No surprise that given a true choice I DECIDE that I don’t want or need a Sickerette!

Once freed of the Power of Addiction, I was alo Empowered to provide for my Body!I now eat a very Healthy Diet! I now weigh my target weight! I now can clearly decide to leave the junk food, etc., behind!

I now Exercise every single Day! I work 30 minutes of treadmill, and ½ hour of weight lifting three times a Week and 30 minutes of treadmill with ½ hour of Pilates 3 times a Week! Sunday is my Day of Rest!

I just had a 6 Month evaluation where I improved in every category: Flexibility, Balance, Endurance and Strength!

And it’s not just a bunch of numbers! I feel AWESOME! My Oxygen Stats used to hang out barely above 90% (dangerously low.) Now after Exercise they’re running 97% - just sitting around they’re usually 95%. I have never seen numbers like that! It mean that my Body is working at very Healthy capacity to use the less Oxygen I do have(which unfortunately can’t improve!) I work two jobs (50 hours altogether a Week.) I have much more energy, I look healthier, I can do more at Work and at Home of the things I love!

I guarantee you, Folks, that this would never have happened had I not Quit Smoking first! I’m on the most incredible Quit Journey and I just can’t contain my Excitement!

Now, why would I give all that up for a Sickerette?

N.O.P.E., No Way, No How, Never! Make me if you can!

"Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,"  1 Corinthians 6:19

When I was smoking, stress kept my nerves tight as a live wire - always in fight/flight mode! Now I am feeling stress in a very different way!  Each episode is important but I don't anticipate it with a constant vigilance and I don't fiddle with it afterwards trying to decide if I could have done things better!  Que sera sera (for those who never heard of Doris Day it means whatever will be will be!)  and what's done is done!I learned what I could from that event and move on!

 I believe that this has to do with smoking!  I remember getting up and checking my cig supply, getting off work and figuring if I have enough for tomorrow, etc, - always in a state of anticipation.  When I was smoking that "dealing with stress"  cig, I was toying with how I could deal with things differently.   It's sort of jumping into the future or living in the past and somehow missing the present.  Dealing with stress in the present makes it a lot less burdensome and MORE EFFECTIVE!


The Naked Truth

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jul 20, 2015

The Naked Truth!

"The naked truth is always better than the best dressed lie!" - Ann Landers

Addictin rubs rampant over a person’s Values. We do and say things for our fix that we would never do were we not hooked!

Do you think that you’re the EXception or that Nicotine isn’t all that bad?  Here’s just one EXample of what goes wrong in the Life of an Addict:

A very egregious wrong of Addiction for me is that it steals away your Honesty! I truly convinced myself that I was an honest, trustworthy person! Honesty has always been a Value at the top of my have-to/want-to list. It’s how I was raised and what was Expected of me and became what I Expect of myself!

Yet as an Addict I lied so many times! I lied about quitting over and over again! I lied about whether I was a smoker and even more ridiculous – about whether I had just had a sickerette! I foolishly believed that my Wife couldn’t smell the stink, couldn’t taste the stinch in my kisses, wouldn’t know if I lied to her because I had used mouthwash and/or gum to cover it up! She knew! She always knew – and worse, she knew that I was so hooked that I would lie for my Drug of choice!

I lied to my Sons, telling them to please don’t smoke and I was so glad I quit when in fact I hadn’t quit! Why should they believe anything I had to say when they certainly knew that I hadn’t quit no matter what lying words came spewing out of my mouth!

I lied to employers, insurance companies, medical staff, even to friends! And then when I thought they weren’t looking I’d sneak a filthy sickerette believing I could have my cake and eat it, too!

Worst of all, I lied to myself! I claimed in my own mind that I wasn’t doing anything all that bad. OR that I know it’s bad but I have plenty of time to stop. I convinced myself that I have a “right” to smoke, i.e. sloooowly daily posion and kill myself. I could make up a bizillion of Excuses as to why I hadn’t lived smoke FREE today! I was bedazzled and bamboozled by a dried up old plant wrapped in paper and dipped into over 7000 deadly chemicals!

When I was “trying to quit” I would count on “luck” to get me to the straight and narrow, all the time sneaking sickerettes and Excusing my behavior with “Well, at least, I’m trying! Quitting is hard and I should give myself a break!”  OR "Oh everybody slips! If I slip it will be O.K. I'll just try again!” (....and again and again)

The truth was and is that I am an Addict!

That’s why I advocate for coming clean with everybody! My quit date isn’t 10, 15 20 Years ago! My quit date is March 20, 2010 and I’m proud to say this to anyone who wants to listen to the naked truth! I quit for LIFE! And I rejoice in my newfound honesty!

That’s what Recovery is all about! Re claiming your True Self – living your True Values!

The problem is that your lungs, heart, brain and DNA will know!

You have to quit for you! You have to live N.O.P.E. whether anybody is watching or not!

It's your Life and as far as I know you only get one!

Get rid of them and keep them away for YOU!

"Sickerettes are like wolves -

they travel in packs!" - JoJo from NY

Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity - successful men act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something.  Soon it becomes a reality.  Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly and you will be amazed at the positive results!  - William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910)

Studies have shown that what you believe about your Quit Journey becomes your reality!

If you think that you will succeed then you will! If you think the NRTs are helping you then they will! Ever hear of the placebo effect? If you think pharmaceuticals will make the diference then they will! 

AND if you believe that you can put those stinking killerettes down right now and never touch another one then that will be yoour reality!

READ READ READ! You are not only learning about Nicotine Addiction and Recovery, you are changing the way you perceive the whole process of smoking and the whole process of quitting. 

You can't stop the withdrawal but you can learn how to get through them in one piece. 

And it is so worth it!

Life's too short! Don't smoke it up!

A good exercise is 5,4,3,2,1

Take a long deep slow breath,

- name 5 things you see that are blue,

- name 4 things that you hear,

- name 3 things you feel (touch),

- name 2 things you taste,

- name 1 thing you smell.

Breathe deeply once more.

Move on!


WHAT IF.......

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jul 17, 2015

WHAT IF I could just smoke without all the crap that comes along with it ... wouldn't that be awesome!

Of course, I would still be an addict!  Otherwise I wouldn't be glorifying some dead leaves wrapped in paper!

I'd still be spending some $150.00 a month and here I'm complaining about internet costs!

I'd still be losing time to go get my fix - at least an hour and a half every day!

I'd still make the smoke a priority over my work, my family, my friends, and MYSELF!

WHAT IF I had never smoked a cigarette in my life - a much better fantasy - if that's your thing!

Sorry Folks! I like reality a whole lot better!  I'm an EXer but I am NOT UNHAPPY about that because I choose to live a HAPPY SMOKE FREE LIFE and am a better person because of it!


If you’re still in your first days or even prequit stage of your quit journey, you may have the impression that the Elders can’t possibly remember or understand what you’re feeling and thinking – the anxiety, the craving, the robotic pull that feels stronger than the strongest magnet!

Yet even on Day 1944 I assure you that I vividly recall every miserable detail of he11 week, heck week, hallelujah week. I remember like it was yesterday the guerilla attacks of NML. I remember when I finally grasped the idea to get the heck out of my own way toward success! I remember when I wasn’t just faking – I had become a Happy Quitter!

I never forgot! And do you know why? Because Never Ever Forget is in my estimation as important as N.O.P.E. when you decide to live a successful forever quit! I didn’t come up with this concept. A Fella named Live4thedash introduced it way back 5 Years ago! Lucky me! I learned something that saved my you-know-what more times in my quit journey than I can count!

NEF is the opposite of complacency – the Great Quit Killer! Complacency is what gets so many long term quitters! They forget to log in. They forget to contribute to the Community. They forget the power of connection. They get lazily blindly secure until they lose their way and revert to Nicotine Addiction via alcohol or peer pressure or stress.

Practitioners of NEF constantly look for new ways to relish their quit journey! They empathize and sympathize with Folks at all levels of Quititude. They mature in their recovery because true recovery isn’t just not smoking! It’s growing!And like all growing things it needs nourishment, encouragement, and development!

And for those willing to grow their quits they are blessed with tenfold blessings of self discovery and awareness! They enjoy the benefits of all their contributions! They help themselves by helping others!

We will Never Ever Forget! We do it for all of you but FIRST we do it for US!

N.O.P.E. and N.E.F.

Thanks, Dash!

Nicotine may interfere with how brain responds to pleasure and reward, leading to serious mental conditions 
·  Researchers have found that cigarettes increase the chance of psychosis 

·  This is due to nicotine interfering with the brain affecting mental health 

·  believe nicotine affects the way brain responds to pleasure and reward

·  First time a study has suggested a causal link between smoking and mental illness 

Smoking tobacco may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses, scientists have suggested.

In a landmark study published today, British researchers highlight statistical trends which suggest cigarettes can increase the chance of someone being diagnosed with psychosis.

They think nicotine interferes with the way the brain responds to pleasure and reward, which may trigger mental disorders.


Doctors have highlighted in the past the fact that people with psychotic mental illnesses are more likely to be smokers. But until now experts have assumed this is because sufferers are smoking to deal with their distress. 

The study, in the respected Lancet Psychiatry medical journal, suggests for the first time the link may actually be causal.


The authors used data from almost 290,000 people to conclude that those with psychosis are more likely to smoke because their habit – alongside genetic and environmental influences – had caused their problem.

Dr James MacCabe, a member of the team from King’s College London, said: ‘While it is always hard to determine the direction of causality, our findings indicate that smoking should be taken seriously as a possible risk factor for developing psychosis, and not dismissed simply as a consequence of the illness.’

The researchers analysed data from 61 studies involving 15,000 smokers and 273,000 non-smokers. 

They found that 57 per cent of people treated for a first episode of psychosis were smokers.

Psychotic patients were three times more likely to smoke than people without mental illness. 


The study also showed that, on average, daily smokers became psychotic about a year earlier than non-smokers.

The scientists admitted that they had only shown a statistical link –and had proved nothing about what in tobacco might actually contribute towards mental illness. 

But, speculating on possible causes, they said there may be a link between smoking and dopamine, a chemical that plays a role in the way the brain experiences emotion.


Professor Sir Robin Murray, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, said: ‘Excess dopamine is the best biological explanation we have for psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia. 

'It is possible that nicotine exposure, by increasing the release of dopamine, causes psychosis to develop.’

Experts last night welcomed the findings, although they stressed the link would be difficult to prove.

Professor Sir Michael Owen of Cardiff University said that within the constraints of its method the study ‘makes a pretty strong case’.

But he added: ‘The fact is that it is very hard to prove causation without a randomised trial, but there are plenty of good reasons already for targeting public health measures very energetically at the mentally ill.’






Lessons from Pulse/Ox

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jul 12, 2015

Walking around my Oxygen Sats are generally 90 to 92.

After Exercise my Oxygen Sats become 93 to 96

After 10 minutes Meditation my Oxygen Sats reach 97 to 98!

Conclusions: If I want to breathe I'd best be doing my Exercise and Meditation every day! 


Smokers pay about more than 3 times as much more for life insurance than nonsmokers.

Kicking the smoking habit is not only a health-conscious decision, but also a financially sound one. People who give up smoking save much more than cigarette money — they also save on health care costs and insurance. A previous NerdWallet study found that quitting smoking can save consumers over $10,000 a year.

Life insurance companies take height and weight, blood pressure and other health metrics into account when determining premiums. Having a risky habit, especially smoking, dramatically impacts the cost you’ll pay. Men and women who smoke spend an average of $1,455 and $1,071 more every year for term life insurance than those who are smoke-free, according to NerdWallet research.

Insurance premiums decrease each subsequent year after you ditch smoking, but you’ll need to avoid nicotine for five years before you’ll receive the same life insurance rates as nonsmokers.

Key takeaways

Long-term quitters see the biggest life insurance savings. Quitting a couple months before you apply for a life insurance policy won’t get you anywhere. It generally takes five years or more for ex-smokers to get the same rates as nonsmokers.

Switching to a different nicotine product won’t help. Most people who use nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, nasal sprays or e-cigarettes still pay smokers life insurance rates.

In most of the country, smokers pay about 351% times more for life insurance than nonsmokers. However, smokers in Montana and New York pay around 363% and 297% more, respectively, for life insurance. Laws in Montana and New York have unique requirements for life insurance companies that affect how the states set prices.

Going cold turkey for one year can still deliver major savings on life insurance. On average, the smokers rates for men and women are $2,025 and $1,505 each year for a 20-year $500,000 term life insurance policy. Quitting smoking for an entire year reduces the average premium to $797 for men and $659 for women. After two years of not smoking, rates drop to $670 and $543. The Center for Advancing Health found that 80% of ex-smokers who quit for two years had quit for good. Life insurance companies will put consumers who have a lower likelihood of picking the habit back up in a lower risk category and drop premiums.


Here are a few important things for smokers and ex-smokers to know about life insurance:

1.       Don’t lie on your life insurance application. Your medical records and your life insurance medical exam, which includes a blood and urine test, will likely reveal your smoking habit. And if you’re an ex-smoker, your insurer might verify the amount of time you’ve been smoke-free by checking past life and health insurance applications you’ve made. Misleading your life insurer is considered fraud and can jeopardize your beneficiaries’ death benefit payment.

2.      If you start smoking after your policy is issued, you don’t need to inform your life insurer. That’s true for any medical problems you develop after the policy is issued.

3.      You can ask your insurer for a rate review if you quit smoking after buying a policy at smokers rates. The company will re-evaluate your health and smoking status and might grant you a better, non-smoking rate. There’s no risk to you. Even if you’ve developed other health problems in the meantime, your rate cannot be raised.

Resources to help you quit

Quitting smoking is no small task, but there are resources that can help you kick the habit.

Joining a smoking-cessation program will help you with steps to quit smoking, as well as tips on healthier living. Talk to your doctor to find a program in your area.

Smoking-cessation aids can also help you quit. Keep in mind that e-cigarette users will likely get smokers rates, and there’s no evidence that using e-cigarettes improves your chances of quitting.

Whether or not you’re a smoker, comparing life insurance costs can help you save money. Talk to your agent or use tools, such as NerdWallet’s life insurance comparison tool, to find the coverage and price that’s best for you.

Areas where over 1 in 5 adults are smokers

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17.8% of U.S. adults are regular smokers, but the rate varies by location. Below is a list of the major metro areas where over 1 in 5 adults are smokers.


We averaged life insurance quotes for 35-year-old and 45-year-old men and women for a 20-year $500,000 term life insurance policy, based on data from the NerdWallet life insurance comparison tool.

For Years we have been told that Addiction, be it Nicotine, Alcohol or other substances is an Addiction. Now more and more publications are expressing opposing views. The problem with the Addiction Model is that it sews you into being "sick" and thus not responsible for your disease anymore. You may have gotten yourself into it but how can you get yourself out?

Here is another way of looking at it:

Addiction is not a disease: A neuroscientist argues that it’s time to change our minds on the roots of substance abuse


The mystery of addiction — what it is, what causes it and how to end it — threads through most of our lives. Experts estimate that one in 10 Americans is dependent on alcohol and other drugs, and if we concede that behaviors like gambling, overeating and playing video games can be addictive in similar ways, it’s likely that everyone has a relative or friend who’s hooked on some form of fun to a destructive degree. But what exactly is wrong with them? For several decades now, it’s been a commonplace to say that addicts have a disease. However, the very same scientists who once seemed to back up that claim have begun tearing it down.


Once, addictions were viewed as failures of character and morals, and society responded to drunks and junkies with shaming, scolding and calls for more “will power.” This proved spectacularly ineffective, although, truth be told, most addicts do quit without any form of treatment. Nevertheless, many do not, and in the mid-20th century, the recovery movement, centered around the 12-Step method developed by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, became a godsend for those unable to quit drinking or drugging on their own. The approach spread to so-called “behavioral addictions,” like gambling or sex, activities that don’t even involve the ingestion of any kind of mind-altering substance.

Much of the potency of AA comes from its acknowledgement that willpower isn’t enough to beat this devil and that blame, rather than whipping the blamed person into shape, is counterproductive. The first Step requires admitting one’s helplessness in the face of addiction, taking recovery out of the arena of simple self-control and into a realm of transcendence. We’re powerless over the addictive substance, and trust in a Higher Power, and the program itself, to provide us with the strength and strategy to quit. But an important principle of the 12 Steps is that addiction is chronic and likely congenital; you can be sober indefinitely, but you will never be cured. You will always remain an addict, even if you never use again.

The flourishing of the 12-Step movement is one of the reasons why we now routinely describe addiction as a “disease.” To have a disease — instead of, say, a dangerous habit — is to be powerless to do anything except apply the prescribed cure. A person with a disease is unfortunate, rather than foolish or weak or degenerate. Something innate in your body, particularly in your brain, has made you exceptionally susceptible to getting hooked. You always have and always will contain a bomb, the important question is how to avoid setting a match to it. Another factor promoting the disease model is that it has ushered addiction under the aegis of the healthcare industry, whether in the form of an illness whose treatment can be charged to an insurance company or as the focus of profit-making rehab centers.

This conception of addiction as a biological phenomenon seemed to be endorsed over the past 20 years as new technologies have allowed neuroscientists to measure the human brain and its activities in ever more telling detail. Sure enough, the brains of addicts are physically different — sometimes strikingly so — from the brains of average people. But neuroscience giveth and now neuroscience taketh away. The recovery movement and rehab industry (two separate things, although the latter often employs the techniques of the former) have always had their critics, but lately some of the most vocal have been the neuroscientists whose findings once lent them credibility.

One of those neuroscientists is Marc Lewis, a psychologist and former addict himself, also the author of a new book “The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction is Not a Disease.” Lewis’s argument is actually fairly simple: The disease theory, and the science sometimes used to support it, fail to take into account the plasticity of the human brain. Of course, “the brain changes with addiction,” he writes. “But the way it changes has to do with learning and development — not disease.” All significant and repeated experiences change the brain; adaptability and habit are the brain’s secret weapons. The changes wrought by addiction are not, however, permanent, and while they are dangerous, they’re not abnormal. Through a combination of a difficult emotional history, bad luck and the ordinary operations of the brain itself, an addict is someone whose brain has been transformed, but also someone who can be pushed further along the road toward healthy development. (Lewis doesn’t like the term “recovery” because it implies a return to the addict’s state before the addiction took hold.)

“The Biology of Desire” is grouped around several case studies, each one illustrating a unique path to dependency. A striving Australian entrepreneur becomes caught up in the “clarity, power and potential” he feels after smoking meth, along with his ability to work long hours while on the drug. A social worker who behaves selflessly in her job and marriage constructs a defiant, selfish, secret life around stealing and swallowing prescription opiates. A shy Irishman who started drinking as a way to relax in social situations slowly comes to see social situations as an occasion to drink and then drinking as a reason to hole up in his apartment for days on end.

Each of these people, Lewis argues, had a particular “emotional wound” the substance helped them handle, but once they started using it, the habit itself eventually became self-perpetuating and in most cases ultimately served to deepen the wound. Each case study focuses on a different part of the brain involved in addiction and illustrates how the function of each part — desire, emotion, impulse, automatic behavior — becomes shackled to a single goal: consuming the addictive substance. The brain is built to learn and change, Lewis points out, but it’s also built to form pathways for repetitive behavior, everything from brushing your teeth to stomping on the brake pedal, so that you don’t have to think about everything you do consciously. The brain is self-organizing. Those are all good properties, but addiction shanghais them for a bad cause.

As Lewis sees it, addiction really is habit; we just don’t appreciate how deeply habit can be engraved on the brain itself. “Repeated (motivating) experience” — i.e., the sensation of having one’s worries wafted away by the bliss of heroin — “produce brain changes that define future experiences… So getting drunk a lot will sculpt the synapses that determine future drinking patterns.” More and more experiences and activities get looped into the addiction experience and trigger cravings and expectations like the bells that made Pavlov’s dogs salivate, from the walk home past a favorite bar to the rituals of shooting up. The world becomes a host of signs all pointing you in the same direction and activating powerful unconscious urges to follow them. At a certain point, the addictive behavior becomes compulsive, seemingly as irresistibly automatic as a reflex. You may not even want the drug anymore, but you’ve forgotten how to do anything else besides seek it out and take it.


Yet all of the addicts Lewis interviewed for “The Biology of Desire” are sober now, some through tried-and-true 12-Step programs, others through self-designed regimens, like the heroin addict who taught herself how to meditate in prison. Perhaps it’s no surprise that a psychologist would argue for some form of talk therapy addressing the underlying emotional motivations for turning to drugs. But Lewis is far from the only expert to voice this opinion, or to recommend cognitive behavioral therapy as a way to reshape the brain and redirect its systems into less self-destructive patterns.

Without a doubt, AA and similar programs have helped a lot of people. But they’ve also failed others. One size does not fit all, and there’s a growing body of evidence that empowering addicts, rather than insisting that they embrace their powerlessness and the impossibility of ever fully shedding their addiction, can be a road to health as well. If addiction is a form of learning gone tragically wrong, it is also possible that it can be unlearned, that the brain’s native changeability can be set back on track. “Addicts aren’t diseased,” Lewis writes, “and they don’t need medical intervention in order to change their lives. What they need is sensitive, intelligent social scaffolding to hold the pieces of their imagined future in place — while they reach toward it.”

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