The first steps of recovery, deciding to make a change.
In my last post, I wrote about being in the pre-contemplative phase of my JUUL addiction. I wasn’t ready to quit. Several months ago, the health risks were only just starting to hit the news. And as an addict, I could always find a reason as to why nothing bad would happen to me – people that had health problems from vaping were younger than me, they were buying bootleg products, or vaping THC. I used whatever excuse I could think of to say that I was different, that I would be okay.
But deep down, I knew that vaping wasn’t good for me. I knew that there were health risks and I knew that my partner was worried about it. The feeling in your gut that you are going against your value system is known as cognitive dissonance. That feeling indicated that I knew I was doing something bad for me and not living in the best way I knew how.
After pressure from family and friends, I went from the pre-contemplative phase of recovery through the contemplative stage and into the preparation phase. It took me a few days to decide to quit JUUL for good. I wanted a few more days of vaping, and there truly was no good day to stop. Eventually, I just had to choose a day and do it.
I prepared to quit by stocking up on nicotine patches. After one more weekend of vaping, I chose a Monday to quit. During that time, I was wavering between pre-contemplative (I don’t need to quit), contemplative (I am going to quit), and preparation (buying the patches). I could cycle through all of these phases in a matter of minutes.
On the day that I chose to quit, I put on the patch and left for work. It was an incredibly tough day. I longed to reach for the vape I would usually have with me at all times. I realized more and more how much I enjoy the process of vaping – the quick boost of energy, the pull of the vape into my lungs. I love how it makes me feel!
I managed to last the first few days without vaping by using the patch. Sometimes I needed two patches to avoid withdrawal – my withdrawal symptoms generally kick in about 20 minutes after my last pull. I get bad headaches and cravings for more.
After 3 days, I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I needed to vape again. I was passing by the vape shop that I frequent to buy my supplies and, as if by habit, I walked in and purchased more JUULs. The pull and familiarity of the store was too much. I tore into the pack of JUULs and took my first pull. It was amazing! I was vaping again and I enjoyed it.
During the next few days, I felt a lot of shame about vaping. I hid it from my partner. I vaped in the bathroom to hide it from my family. I managed to keep it under control at first. I vaped a few times a day, and I was sure I’d get back to quitting. At this point, I hadn’t had a full relapse – I had what is known as a lapse. I still knew it was wrong. I could appreciate the cognitive dissonance I was experiencing. I was still going to give it up eventually.
But after a few days, I had a full blown relapse. I went all the way back to the pre-contemplative phase. My JUUL use went back to what it was before I started quitting. I began vaping all of the time. And I became belligerent when confronted with the idea of quitting. I didn’t want to quit.
I was in full blown addiction again.
Adam Banks is a certified recovery coach and interventionist at Suntra Modern Recovery. He received an MBA from the University of Chicago and built a company which United Health Care acquired. He learned his rigor and attention to detail from his career as an airline pilot, holding an ATP, the FAA’s highest license.
Suntra Modern Recovery provides medical treatment for alcohol and opiate addictions via video visit with medical doctors. Suntra’s alcohol and drug intervention services are available in New York, Long Island, and the Hamptons. Treatment for opiate and heroin addiction, including Suboxone treatment, can start today.