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Nicotine Anonymous (NicA) – 12 Step Program

What is Nicotine Anonymous?

Nicotine Anonymous is a 12-step fellowship that was developed for individuals who want to live free from nicotine. Because so many 12-step programs have been successful, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, the group utilizes the same format and recovery process. With a safe place for individuals to find caring support from others who share the same experiences, Nicotine Anonymous gives members an opportunity to find relief from their powerful addiction to nicotine.

Although nicotine is sold everywhere, even with warnings from the surgeon general about its health risks, it does not seem like the “typical” substance addiction. The fact of the matter is, nicotine is just as controlling and addictive as any other mind-altering substance. While it seems like many individuals have been successful quitting in the past, it is far too easy to relapse back into old ways because willpower alone isn’t enough when battling this addiction. Whether an individual has been smoking for years or has just begun, the fellowship is open for anyone to join.

History of Nicotine Anonymous

Although many other groups were formed before the group was officialized, the organization began around February of 1982 when several Alcoholics Anonymous members wanted to create a group that focused on the cessation of smoking. In June of 1982, the original founders had begun formally holding meetings and called the group “Smokers Anonymous.” Because one of the original members was a writer for Reader’s Digest, they decided to write an article about the group and after it was published, received thousands of inquiries for more information about Smokers Anonymous.

Within the first year, the group had over 100 meetings. Smokers Anonymous held their first World Service Conference in 1988 and at the 1990 World Service Conference, the group decided to rename the fellowship Nicotine Anonymous, with the abbreviation NicA. Nicotine Anonymous holds conferences all over the United States, based on the delegates and volunteers willing to help attend the event. As of 2005, there were over 500 meetings worldwide.

How does Nicotine Anonymous help?

Because nicotine addiction can be so powerful, it is important for the group and its members to understand that nicotine addiction is a disease and it not only affects an individual’s health, but it also impacts them mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Although some individuals have had success quitting on their own, the relapse rate for nicotine is extremely high and it is not enough to quit on willpower alone. Nicotine urges can return at any time, so arresting the addiction is the only way to successfully recover.

Working the 12 steps of the program is one of the most effective ways to help individuals recover from their nicotine addiction, improve their lifestyle and become free from their addiction. The fellowship helps members beyond what they already know because many members continue to use nicotine regardless of the health effects. When hearing the health problems that nicotine can cause, such as heart attacks, lung cancer and emphysema, members can begin to feel more anxiety and feel compelled to want to smoke more to relieve the stress.

Nicotine Anonymous helps members find ways to cope with their emotional pains, including finding a higher power that may be absent in their lives, to help fill the void that they may be feeling. Aside from regularly attending meetings, members can obtain a sponsor in the program. Sponsorship is considered one of the five tools of recovery in the fellowship, and the role can be taken on by a longtime member who has let go of nicotine.

This opportunity gives a sponsor the opportunity to share their experiences with a newcomer and it is recommended that members try to get a sponsor as soon as possible to help work the 12 steps of the program. For sponsors, this relationship can be beneficial as well. It is not only a humbling act of service to help another member recover from their addiction, but it can be a reminder that nicotine is still as addictive as it was when they quit. Sponsors can also help newcomers find the best literature to begin the recovery process, which includes titles such as “Nicotine Anonymous: The Book,” “Newcomer’s Booklet,” “Our Path to Freedom: Twelve Stories of Recovery” and more.

Why is Nicotine Anonymous effective?

According to public health experts, nicotine is regarded as one of the most powerfully addictive drugs in common use. As of 2006, the World Health Organization said over 13,000 people died everyday from nicotine associated use, while secondhand smoke caused 65,000 deaths annually.

Because the program is open to everyone, members never look at one another differently. The common goal of everyone in attendance is the desire to free themselves from nicotine addiction. One of the ways the fellowship works so well is because it helps members identify symptoms that can help them explain a nicotine addiction. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Feeling comfortable only around other nicotine users
  • Physical or emotional discomfort when trying to quit
  • Made promises to others to quit and then broke these promises
  • Burning holes in carpet, furniture, cars etc.
  • Using nicotine to escape boredom or worries under pressure
  • Using nicotine everyday

Before joining the program, many members felt numbness, all while living in denial of their health problems, suffering from low self esteem and many other emotional and physical struggles. Once members begin remaining abstinent from nicotine and start working the steps, they will start to see the promises of the fellowship come true. Individuals will find ways to steer away from cravings, turmoil and unmanageability; see physical improvement such as returned taste and smell; and begin to love themselves more.

FAQs about Nicotine Anonymous

Does the program cost money?

Nicotine Anonymous does not require any fees, dues or costs to join membership. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop using nicotine. The group is self-supporting through their own contributions and never accepts external donations. While members are never required to give any monetary donations, if they can, there is an opportunity to during meetings. Literature purchases also help the organization thrive.

How do I find meetings?

The official Nicotine Anonymous website has a meeting directory page to help locate meetings in areas nearby. There are still face-to-face meetings available, but for members who cannot attend physical meetings, virtual and telephone meetings are also listed. The organization also has a unique method for keeping in touch with other members, which is by pen/email pals. For more information on finding a pen/email pal or any other meetings, visit here.

Is the program religious?

The program of Nicotine Anonymous is not religious in any way, shape or form. While the program does recommend individuals find a higher power, it is simply because willpower alone is not enough to help the cessation of smoking. Because not having a power greater than themselves can be detrimental to recovery, it is important to find a higher power. All members are encouraged to choose whatever concept that they want as a higher power than themselves. It does not have to be God or any other religious deity.

What doesn’t the program do?

The program of Nicotine Anonymous is beneficial in many different ways; from healing emotional pains to improve health as members maintain abstinence from nicotine. As helpful as the fellowship is to its members, there are some things the program doesn’t do for its members. These include:

1. Nicotine Anonymous does not run membership drives. Although we publish NicA announcements, the Fellowship is based on attraction, not promotion.

2. Nicotine Anonymous does not accept money from outside sources. We are self-supporting.

3. Nicotine Anonymous does not check up on its members to criticize them or see if they have relapsed.

4. Nicotine Anonymous is not a religious organization. Members form their own ideas about spirituality and the meaning of life.

5. Nicotine Anonymous is not a medical organization. It does not give out medicines or psychiatric advice.

6. Nicotine Anonymous neither runs medical or recovery facilities nor provides health services.

7. Nicotine Anonymous is not affiliated with any other organization. Some members work for outside organizations but do not act as representatives of Nicotine Anonymous.

8. Nicotine Anonymous does not reveal its members’ names. Our 11th Tradition states; “We need to always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, TV and films.” Also, members do not divulge to others who says what in meetings.


12 Steps of Nicotine Anonymous (NicA)

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

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

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

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

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

12. 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.


12 Traditions of Nicotine Anonymous (NicA)

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

2. 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.

3. The only requirement for Nicotine Anonymous membership is a desire to stop using nicotine.

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

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

6. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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