Guinevere Gets Sober

Recovery news, reviews and stories, by Jennifer Matesa.

Sayings From the Rooms: Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

They say,

Nothing changes
nothing changes

Another way of saying this is another thing they say:

If you do what you always did,
you’ll get what you always got

A lot of us wrestle with habits other than “drugs” or “alcohol.” We eat sugar. We shop online. We have sex. We smoke. We don’t think these are problems until we bump  into walls.

Lots of people don’t think smoking is drug-use. It’s been well established, ever since Jeffrey Wigand testified against Big Tobacco, that cigarettes are nicotine-delivery devices scientifically crafted to maximize the effects of nicotine on the neurological system. Nicotine is an addictive drug.

I was at a meeting the other night where a friend of mine was talking about how she gave up smoking. She’d quit drinking and gotten sober and had changed her life, she said, and saved her cigs for the times when she really needed to control her “stress.” … I’ve heard so many people with addiction talk about how kicking nicotine was harder than quitting heroin or booze. My friend said she’d never thought that her smoking was a problem until her kid piped up one day:

Oh, look, Mommy! There’s the cigarettes you smoke when you’re mad!

She gave up cigarettes after that.

SugarThis made me think about the times I eat sugar. I eat it when I’m upset. I eat it habitually. I eat it because I’ve always eaten it. I eat it because it’s what I do. … It makes me feel good for a while, it comforts me, then it makes me tired; it gives me headaches. It makes me sad: classic sugar-crash. I could give you a technical rundown on what happens with the insulin overload, but it would be boring.

I have to give up sugar.

It’s the last thing.

It would be cool not to be a slave to anything anymore.

It would also be cool to eat real food. Not to hunt through the cupboards for “fun” trash all the time. It would require me to plan meals, to balance my life so that I pay attention to what I eat.

Mindfulness practice—meditation—brought me here… I’ll write about that next time.


  1. I’ve quit heroin. And I’ve quit smoking. I’m undecided about which was worse. Hmm. I still think about smoking cigarettes. I never think about using heroin. I see people smoking everywhere. At meetings, at work, in movies, etc. I never see heroin usage (unless I’m watching Intervention and then I cover my eyes.)

    Now I have to quit waffles. 🙁

  2. Hi Guinevere, there are so many potential traps in recovery – things that can stop me from living life to the full potential. One thing that has been a bit of a problem for me has been food. Recently I’ve been practicing mindful eating and that has been a great help. I have found that mindfulness and meditation is great for helping me to combat all those nasty traps that arise in recovery.

  3. I quit smoking when my daughter (who was 5 years old at the time) said, “Mom, can you give me one good reason why you smoke? Do you want to die soon?”
    On another note- I am a meal planner. It makes grocery bills less expensive and minimizes the amount of food that gets tossed because I don’t cook it in time. I also usually buy enough food so that my husband and I have dinner for the night and lunch for the next day. To prevent us from eating both servings at dinnertime I package them up as soon as they come off stove.

  4. Hello you – I’ve been away and boy have I missed you. This post has hit such a raw nerve. Well two actually – sugar and cigarettes. I moved to Switzerland from the UK about 9 months ago – it was stressful in itself but then Hannah my sister came to stay with us just before I was about to start my new job and relapsed on heroin under our roof. It was devastating. I was okay for a while and then I started to binge on these delicious sweets they have out here called carembars – they are toffee flavoured and stick to your teeth like nobody’s business but they were SO good that I would have about 20 in a sitting only realising when I looked at the pile of wrappers next to where I was sitting. The other thing I started was so smoke. I havnt smoked for about 10 years – apart from casually on girlie nights out and then I started a few months ago to have a few on my own and now I’m at about 3 or 4 a day. I hate it, and I can’t seem to stop it. I feel stressed about all sorts of things and this is my crux. I have managed to cut out the trashy sweets. I went cold turkey and now just have the odd chocolate but cigarettes – thats a tougher mission. I am halfway through a pack now. I want it to be my last.

    Good luck re the sweets. Have you tried replacing with some grapes or raisins? Still sugary but natural? Chewing gum? Not sure what other tricks I might have up my sleeve…

    Glad to be back and reading you again.
    Nora x

  5. Here’s a great blog/site for mindfulness and intentional living: Patti Digh, the author of this blog and the book, “Life is a Verb”, is coming here, to my town, to speak this coming week – – – and I am her host. I am so excited. I feel like a groupie.

    And November 11th – 14 th, The Art of Living organization ( is coming to lead a meditation class that my son, Brian, says will change my life.

    Mindfulness and meditation – – – I’m on board. Peggy

  6. guinevere

    October 31, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Nora, lovely to see you here again. Hope to see something new from you soon… I so much want to do anything I can to support people who want to stop smoking. I almost feel like it’s a personal mission of mine. What can I do to help you?

    Drew, you’re giving me good ideas about thinking ahead about food. Something I need to do.

    Peg… Thanks for the links. Looking forward to checking them out…

  7. I had to change and it was quite a process. Some days I slink back to the way that I was. But mostly I am moving forward. Life is what I make it.

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