Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he sometimes disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Up in Smoke

If you ask people what's the deadliest addiction in the country they'd probably give you the wrong answer. They would probably tell you that it was methamphetamines. Heroin. Cocaine, Alcohol. But they'd be wrong in every instance.

The deadliest addiction in the country is nicotine. Tobacco kills something like 425,000 people a year in the United States. It kills more than all diseases combined. It kills more people than do plane crashes or automobile accidents. It kills more people than do homicides. More people die from tobacco than all other causes combined. And you can add to that number the 225,000 American military personnel who died in World War II.

Smoking is something that I rant about every so often. Not only was it the hardest addiction I ever quit, it also killed seven of my family members. None of them died from lung cancer: all of them succumbed to emphysema – a slow painful death that eventually suffocated them.

It was 33 years ago in July when I was finally able to kick the habit. It took a lot of planning for me to do it. The first thing I did was cut down from unfiltered to filtered cigarettes. Then I started cutting down on the number of cigarettes I smoked each day. Before I finally made the leap to quit smoking, I purchased 100 Nicorette tablets. After chewing nine of them over a few days, I knew I was done. And I was. I never picked up another cigarette or tobacco product again. And I believe that it was a decision that saved my life.

I bring this up today because I see people around TLC who still smoke in spite of all the evidence. I've seen them develop emphysema and COPD. I've seen them have strokes and heart attacks. And even though they know on an intellectual level how devastating the habit is, the addiction is so powerful that many of them cannot summon the willpower to quit.

However, we are willing to help any client wants to quit smoking. And that includes purchasing nicotine patches if they can't afford them – plus we offer hypnosis for those who are highly motivated to quit but have had difficulty stopping.