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By Amber S. Jackson
Lucky Lifer 

Battling Cigarette Addiction Followed Me During My Time in California State Prison. How did I beat it?

My 12-Step Crisis California Institute for Women at Corona: I'm up for re-sentencing due to my exceptional conduct! I can't afford this rookie mistake.



Merely smelling cigarette smoke triggered the cravings

Yeah, I stumbled mentally. I didn't fall. There's a lot bad things on the prison yard right now. I've told you that already. I have not had any drug cravings in a very long time. There has also been a lot of tobacco smoking in this place recently. I am a cigarette smoker on the street. However, due to my recovery from old behaviors, I do not smoke here in prison because tobacco is not allowed. My recovery involves discipline and doing what's right no matter what.

It's been about 5 years since I smoked an illegal cigarette here in prison. Until these past few weeks I had not even smelled a cigarette in years. Now people walk past me all the time smelling like smoke. I knew if I allowed myself to smell too much of it I would get a craving. So I took drastic measures to avoid the smell of smoke at all costs!!

I was at the prison canteen area on Tuesday. This area is outdoors. There was a lot of smoke and no matter where I stood, the cigarette smell was in the air, thick. I knew it would only take a split second for my mental switch to flip. I would go from being fine without cigarettes, to an active and painful craving. If you smoke, you can imagine! Well, it happened. My switch flipped. Now I remembered the joy of smoking and I wanted a cigarette for the first time in years! Yikes! This was a 12 step emergency for me!!

Hold on, I'm almost free? I'm in recovery! I'm up for resentencing due to my exceptional conduct! I can't afford this rookie mistake. So, what did I do in this situation? I pulled out every tool in my tool box!! I first spoke to my friend SheShe. She is also in recovery. She was very helpful in reminding me of how far I have come! Plus, as a lifer, one cigarette would result in serious discipline and 5 years minimum BPH roll over. Yes, 5 more years in prison over a single cigarette! So, you see, I needed to hear that! It's a really BS feeling to be stuck in a cigarette craving while behind these walls.

Next, I called my sponsor! His name is Theo. He did over 25 years in prison. S, he has a unique understanding of how I felt and what I face. He's a former lifer who went on parole 4 years ago. He's now off of parole and a success working at a tech company! He's a living example to me! He is a key person in my outside support system!

I worked through the craving and woke up the next morning feeling like normal. No more craving. With this being what I would consider a crisis, I decided that I need to tighten up my Step 10 daily personal inventory. I can no longer simply do my daily inventory in my head. I need to write it down. Immediately, I began a new daily inventory journal! A journal dedicated to my daily step 10 inventory! I now need to do it on paper! I need to hold myself even more accountable!! I have been doing my daily inventory in this journal since this craving crisis!! I take my recovery deadly serious. I take my future and freedom deadly serious! I am all in! So I reevaluated how I do this inventory. As a result, I also made amends to a couple of people to whom I owed an apology! When I am wrong, I must always promptly admit it! Absolutely NO cutting corners in recovery! Especially not when I'm almost out of this place! I learned a lot about myself though this!


Dreams of smoking legally when free

It's not about the cigarette. For me, its about nipping addictive behavior. It's about following all prison rules. It's about me showing that I possess good judgement. Even when I'm tempted. There will be tons of stressors and temptations in the free world! I am a smoker at heart!! I simply defer that pleasure until I am free and can enjoy my Newports legally and drama free. Upon release I plan to purchase a carton of Newports! I plan to sit down on a public bench and chain smoke as I watch people walk by and I soak in the free air and the wonder of the majesty of freedom. Why? Because I'm free and it's legal! I plan to kiss the prison parking lot gravel as soon as I walk out the front gate. Why? Because I'll be free! My eye is on the prize. After all I have learned, my freedom will simply be a side effect of being the new woman I've become...

Recommended Reading:

"The 36 Strategies Of Suitability"

by Joseph R. Haytas


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