Many products that are smoked actually contain a warning on the package that practically calls it an addictive poison. Can the “habit” truly be kicked?
Why do people continue to pay money for a poison and place its contents firmly in their lungs? Nicotine is addictive and harmful to the human body. Many who try to quit smoking describe the “cold turkey” method as the most torturous experience humanly imaginable.
Yet there are many outreach programs and advocacy groups that can help in the struggle to break an addiction to a smoked substance. There are also many effective and research-based medications and materials that can assist in the fight. As with all other addictions, the question is, will we use the resources?
Though not detailed, the following four-step process will hopefully provide a fresh look at overcoming this addiction.
The four-step program
1. Stop rationalizing and call the addiction sin.
Satan hides in rationalizations so that he can happily keep us in sin while we suffer: “I just have an occasional smoke with some friends.” “I quit almost every week.” “It’s not that bad.” “I can’t help it … I’m addicted.”
Remember that God views our bodies as the temple for His Holy Spirit: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Also, recall that God provides dietary laws for what is clean to enter our bodies for food and what is unclean to be avoided (Leviticus 11).
Taking both these facts together, how can we say that inhaling what even secular sources agree is addictive poison is following God’s commands of purity? If we agree that God made some meats “unclean” and those were not to pass into our systems, how then can we say that clearly labeled poison is “clean” to go in our bodies? We can’t.
Also, is it truly showing love to others to expose them to the dangers of secondhand smoke and its offensive smell? Many who are used to the smell of cigarette smoke do not realize how truly unpleasant it is to those not used to it. This also applies when considering those who live with us. If we truly love them, how can we subject them to what is admittedly a poison?
2. Learn to hate the sin as much as God hates it and for the reasons He hates it.
Looking at any harmful addiction, especially smoking, as a sin rather than just a so-called “bad habit” will put the right perspective on the situation and will help us to hate the behavior. Smoking, like pornography, is a billion-dollar industry based on selling a product that is harmful and destructive. Although some blame can be placed on the companies selling these products, the fact of the matter remains that they are supplying a ravenous demand. Imagine the lung cancer, emphysema and other lung diseases caused by smoking, and then imagine God wanting that for His precious children. It is just not possible to imagine.
God wants to be our primary focus mainly because He is preparing us for His coming Kingdom on earth. (Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”) It is okay for us to hate anything that takes our focus away from that Kingdom (like harmful addictions). Smoking makes us live from puff to puff, many times getting “the shakes” if it has been too long. We become entrenched and dependent on a material poison rather than on the Creator.
3. Make whatever sacrifice is necessary.
The stories of those going cold turkey to quit smoking are not pleasant, but they do illustrate a basic truth. Many times we must sacrifice physical comfort to overcome addictions. Smoking has all but become breathing to some, and they have to retrain their bodies to live without it. Comfort in sinning is no longer a luxury one can afford, so it must be sacrificed. What seemed easy and natural should become something alien. We must learn once again to live without the constant need for a smoke.
Social gatherings and public places that have the allure of the smell will most likely have to be off-limits, as will invitations from “friends” wanting you to have a drag with them. As with all addiction recovery, the mind-set must change as well, so that we don’t go back to thinking that sin—even a “little sin”—is okay.
4. Replace the addiction behavior with positive behaviors.
A good rule of thumb for all addictions is to replace wrong behavior with the wonderful things that the addiction destroyed. In the case of smoking, a sense of appropriate diet and exercise will go a long way in replacing what was overcome. But more is needed. Smoking was so much a part of one’s life that something else needs to be equally important. Bible study and prayer are the obvious choices, with special emphasis on study of loving others with true, outgoing concern.
For additional ways to get started in fighting any addiction, including smoking, please read the “Freedom From Addiction” article “The First Month.”