Are there 12-stepprograms for cigarette smokers, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

Nicotine Anonymous is a form of group therapy. It began in California in 1982, and is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, the original 12-step, self-help group program. It is based on the assumption that people who share a common problem can collectively support each other to eliminate a destructive behavior and its consequences. The only requirement for belonging to the group is the desire to quit smoking. The emphasis is not only on quitting an addiction but also personal and spiritual growth. The goal is for each member to be completely free of addiction to nicotine. Mutuality, trust, honest sharing, acceptance of self, and other goals are the building blocks for a supportive self-help group. Like other 12-step programs, there is no professional group leader. The 12-step approach develops strong social support networks among participants. Role models who have successfully quit smoking become the leaders and sponsor (mentor) new members. Believing in oneself and in a higher power is strongly encouraged. The concept of a higher power is not faith-based but rather an acceptance of one's own limitations regarding one's ability to change on one's own, thus allowing group members to interpret a stronger outside force that helps to guide them and give them the strength to change according to their own personal beliefs. That outside strength can be the group itself or the extended community. It does not necessarily have to be an abstract being such as God. During the recovery process, group members are encouraged to believe in the power of healing within the group. The 12 steps and 12 traditions for Nicotine Anonymous are similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.

They are as follows:

The Twelve Steps of Nicotine Anonymous

We admitted we were powerless over nicotine—that our lives had become unmanageable.

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

We were entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of character.

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

We made direct amends to these people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

We continued to take a personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand Him, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to nicotine users and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Traditions

Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon Nicotine Anonymous unity.

For our group purpose, there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

The only requirement of Nicotine Anonymous membership is the desire to stop using nicotine.

Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or Nicotine Anonymous as a whole.

Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the nicotine addict who still suffers.

A Nicotine Anonymous group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the Nicotine Anonymous name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

Every Nicotine Anonymous group ought to be self- supporting, declining outside contributions.

Nicotine Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

Nicotine Anonymous, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees, directly responsible to those they serve.

Nicotine Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the Nicotine Anonymous name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of the press, radio, TV, and films.

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all of our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Self-help groups and psychosocial aftercare groups are highly recommended long-term for people who are at risk for a relapse. Belonging to a group may prevent this common phenomenon.

The success rate of Nicotine Anonymous has not been well documented because Nicotine Anonymous is a self-help group, which is not run by professionals. Some of the data collected to evaluate the effectiveness of a 12-step approach to smoking cessation was conducted at an inpatient program run by the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital in California. The smoking cessation program, which was run by professionals, used a 12-step approach. A study compared the hospital-based 12-step program with another inpatient program, which used cognitive behavioral therapy as the approach to smoking cessation. The results showed that over 45% of the men enrolled in the 12-step program were abstinent one year after discharge, compared to 36% of the men who received cognitive behavioral therapy.

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