"I feel like I can't quit"

Q: My friends started vaping a few months ago, and then I did, too. But now I feel like I can’t stop, and I need help quitting before I go to camp.

A: My efforts to stop smoking had never lasted very long. For me, it was cigarettes. But like you, once I got started, it was hard to stop.

When I was only seven, I began sneaking cigarettes from my mom’s supply, which she kept for guests to enjoy when they came to play cards. As a teenager, I got permission to smoke in front of my parents, though they never bought cigarettes for me. Neither of my parents smoked, but I loved identifying with all the pretty movie stars who did. 

I tried and tried but always found myself going back to the habit. 

Though I enjoyed smoking early on, after a while I wanted to stop. I tried and tried but always found myself going back to the habit. Then, during my first reading of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, something happened that surprised me. I woke up in the middle of the night and felt impelled to go into the living room. Next thing I knew, I was throwing away my pack of cigarettes. I returned to bed with such a feeling of peace. After that, I never had the desire to smoke again! 

At the time, I was taking a class on communication and was blessed that the essay question I chose to respond to gave me a clearer sense of what had happened that night. My question was, “If you are a smoker, explain why you smoke when there is so much information circulating about its dangers to your health. Or, if you were a smoker and quit, share how you were able to do this.” 

In my essay, I explained that the book I’d been reading had transformed my concept of myself. Prior to reading it, I’d been convinced smoking was just part of who I was. It relaxed me when I was talking to my friends. And since celebrities I looked up to also smoked, I felt that it somehow helped me fit in or made me more appealing.

As I saw myself differently—spiritually—unproductive ways of thinking and acting naturally dropped away.

But as I read Science and Health, I found I was very naturally letting go of these false beliefs about me as I embraced God as wholly good and my identity as God-created—good and worthy. In my essay I explained that the ideas in this book enabled me to exchange a sense of my identity as mortal and material for the immortal, spiritual sense of identity that God gives us. As I saw myself differently—spiritually—unproductive ways of thinking and acting naturally dropped away. The freedom from smoking was great, but it was a deeper, mental freedom that brought about this change—and was the most meaningful thing to me.

So when it comes to the vaping, maybe instead of thinking you have to stop a bad habit, you can approach it in a more positive way—for instance, as an opportunity to understand who you really are as God’s very good creation. You aren’t someone who’s struggling to fit in or trying to find satisfaction or looking for something to either give you a buzz or calm you down. Your spiritual identity, made by God, is always peaceful, secure, loved, worthy, and whole. Feeling the truth of this was what released me from addiction, and it can do the same for you.

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