Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

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.

 

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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!

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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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