Four packets of cigerettes a day to none

Stopping smoking
Stopping smoking

Smoking  was a thrill at first giving me a sense of graduating from adolescence and along with becoming engaged to the love of my life at 19 it made me feel sophisticated, as women did in 1964. We were in denial about the dangers. What started with 3 cigarettes a day with coffee breaks turned into chainsmoking and being driven to smoke even when I didn’t want to. In those days a packet only cost $2. My beloved father had died the year before so I joined my peers, mother, and stepfather in this regrettable habit. We could smoke sitting at our desks so I smoked from 19 to 35yrs old when a close friend had a heart attack and  unexpectedly died at age 40. He was a fit man but heavy smoker. I asked a psychologist colleague how can I give up enjoying watching a movie at night with my husband  while smoking and having coffee? He said that in time without cigarettes I will get that same buzz just over coffee. Sceptically, for the sake of living longer and being better role models for our teenage children, we embarked on a community course to quit smoking. One important aspect was it would take 21 days to get out of the habit, using tomato juice (Vitamin C) to help clear the system of nicotine and for cravings to stop. It worked because the motivation was high and we were committed to the end goal. It was true we did still get the bliss of settling down to a movie and coffee without the cigarettes. I was so proud to be free from the compulsion to smoke and could get a ‘high’ without it. It’s been 37 years of being free with a couple of short stints during the ‘harm minimisation’ campaign when I got into denial and started smoking to test if I could just smoke 3 cigarettes a day again. Huh! Within a few days I was chainsmoking and went through hell to quit. But I did quit once more, thanks to hypnosis and Nicotine Anonymous meetings. No longer do I have recurring dreams of being a part time smoker, being able to control how many I smoked. I’m free, not a slave to a cigarette. I shudder to think how I could possibly enjoy and afford smoking today when there’s a possibility it will cost $40 a packet soon and what’s worse having to stand outside in the street to smoke one cigarette. I’m not even tempted any more and after tests thankfully I don’t have emphysema. Sometime when I get the natural buzz or high from normal moments of living I grin at the ridiculous thought I had that without smoking I wouldn’t be able to have bliss.

How to ‘Become Free from Addiction’ Shortcut

MOTIVATION is the fuel for healthy living which becomes weak when addiction takes over and the HIGH or BUZZ reinforces and worsens it. Strengthen motivation to resist the compulsion to do it. Remember THE POWER OF THE MIND is yours to use for an OUTSTANDING WAY OF LIFE and SELF TALK is your KEY  to reprogram unwanted behaviour and reach your goals.

Image from Facebook
Image from Facebook

This REPROGRAMING SHORTCUT  is for those who aren’t ready to have help or those who have recovery but need a shortcut strategy when ADDICTION/COMPULSION visits you!

  • Make total commitment to this REPROGRAMING SHORTCUT
  • REMOVE positive and negative STRESS (this is vital)
  • When DRIVEN to do what you promised yourself you wouldn’t  THEN USE THIS SELF TALK formula without fail!
  • SELF TALK over and over “I HATE THIS” as you’re doing it
  • Repeat even if ANOTHER PART of you says “BULLSHIT!”
  • Remember this WORKS if you keep repeating the SELF TALK to reprogram your attachment to the HIGH/BUZZ from “love” to HATE” (using the HATE word is vital)
  • Whenever the thought comes regarding how much you love it then REPEAT “I HATE THIS!” While your working, walking, driving, having fun, when the thought comes KNOCK IT AWAY with SELF CHAT which will negate the HIGH,/BUZZ.
  • it becomes EASIER and EASIER until it’s second nature to you!
  • YOU CAN DO IT! because you already do it when you are tempted to make choices and you tell yourself “NO, NOT NOW, NEXT TIME!” and it gives you the strength to walk away. It’s that PROTECTIVE SELF TALK that you need to PRACTISE with unwanted behaviours. YOU CAN DO IT!

I DO IT with my addiction to BREAD, DIM SIMS, DIET COLA DRINKS and anything else that can be damaging if it becomes a compulsion and I need to stop it in its tracks like gambling, spending and so on.

WHENEVER I think how I LOVE that taste or feeling  I SELF TALK “I HATE THAT IT” and repeat it OVER and OVER when in a few seconds the compulsion leaves me. Each time I now need to only repeat it twice and the compulsion leaves me.

IF YOU NEED HELP WITH THIS REPROGRAMMING SELF TALK book a private appointment with me 0421 101 163👥






Quit Smoking Today

I was talking to someone who re-commenced smoking after 6 months off cigarettes because of a persistent cough. Despite all the evidence of the long term effects of smoking he claimed he was healthier smoking than not.

Some people never seem to get the QUIT message. But the nature of addiction is to fool ourselves.

Some people quit smoking with the help of nicotine patches or gum. Others attend meetings of NicA to remain smoke-free. There are even therapies with great “quit smoking” results, which I’ll cover in this and future posts.

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13th Stepping Protection

setting foot on the ceiling 3, photo by Thiago Tavares, Maringa, Brazil,, sex addiction
setting foot on the ceiling 3, photo by Thiago Tavares, Maringa, Brazil,, sex addiction

A discussion has evolved from my post on the practice of 13th Stepping – having sex with a person who is more vulnerable than yourself. There have been comments denigrating the 12 Step program, partly blaming 13th stepping. Having worked for over 20 years in the recovery field I can only say that if someone criticises the 12 Step program and fellowship then they are ignorant about how beneficial and lifesaving it is for those who suffer from addiction. There are other programs such as cognitive behavioural therapies which may work for those who commit fully to them but nevertheless larger numbers have benefited from the 12 Step program. Now I will deal with this particular request:

If anyone has any ideas about how to curb 13th stepping at meetings, i would love to hear it. I feel so protective of the other young women at meetings, and I want to do whatever is within my power to encourage self respect, dignity, and focus on recovery. It took a lot of pain for me to see how abusive I was with 13th stepping people, and how abused I let myself be. I would like to do what i can to help these girls make better choices than I have. Thank you, Lauren K

Single people in early recovery are discouraged from entering into relationships because the idea of successful recovery is when you first develop a healthy relationship with self. That’s a life skill which needs honing before success can be achieved in a relationship with another person. However, in the fellowship as in any other part of life such as church groups, cultural associations or sporting clubs etc, lust and love tempt us into relationships which are perhaps too soon, therefore temporary and unsuccessful. Finding partners in the fellowship can be an end result that is fulfilling because it is within a mutual program and the communication is understood. However, there are in the fellowship a minority of people who are not ethical just as there are a larger number of people with integrity and who are good role models for recovery. The strategy for those who may be inclined to be 13th Stepped is to remember that in recovery I am not responsible for the disease but I am responsible for my recovery and therefore report any love interest to your sponsor and be guided. Look on it as being for a short time and when you are strong in your recovery you can choose the right partner more wisely. If you are like Lauren K and notice 13th Stepping in meetings, (1) one way of dealing with your fears is to share, when your turn comes, what you see and feel about the 13th Stepping going on, without mentioning names. (2) Another way is to ask that the topic at your meeting be “how to stop 13th Stepping” and this will mean that when people share on the topic the message will perhaps hit home to those who are the perpetrators. (3) Another way is to ask for a guest speaker who will speak on the subject at the beginning of the meeting. (4) If all else fails, or as well as, you can call for a group conscience meeting especially to ask for that problem to be dealt with, or attend the next group conscience meeting and put the subject on the agenda for discussion. (5) It will be more effective if you set up a group (2-3 members) who will act on this issue. Maybe you will find out another way of doing it but at least you have some suggestions to begin with.

Obesity in young girls

Tummy, photo by Kia Abell, United StatesI had a comment from Renee about a problem they were experiencing, which is worth writing a post on here. Many families are faced with the discomfort that a member’s compulsion can cause. There is a concern for what is obvious and then struggling with a need to not cause distress for the person in question, as can be seen in this plea:

Was wondering if anyone could help on an issue that my partner and I are having with his daughter. We have custody of her week on/week off. She is 10 years old and a beautiful girl but her weight is beginning to spiral out of control. She is now in a size 14 and around 50 kilos. We give her nothing but healthy food and we walk together but she has begun to steal food. It started with occassional pieces of chocolate leftover from celebrations to taking chocolate that was for a friends son for Xmas. It is only getting worse. She now rarely eats her dinner, preferring to sneak food into her room to eat. Her mother is not a great help as she often sends whole large bags of chips or lollies with her. My partners daughter will not talk about anything instead getting angry at us for finding out, she will not admit to what she has done. We really just want to help her! What can we do?

Imagine that the substance and behaviour were not food but rather a drug, would you be afraid to sit down with your partner’s daughter and discuss the problem? The same applies for compulsive eating as for any other compulsion. Of course she is uncomfortable to talk about it and becomes defensive – that’s how compulsive behaviour presents itself. You may be afraid that if you speak to her she may become anorexic. Better to ask her to talk to you both about something of concern. Make sure you use a nurturing method of talking. Explain that your concern is about her eating patterns and her weight gain. Ask her how she feels about it. If she continues to stand her ground then it is better that you see a therapist to help you plan a strategy. You may even take her to a doctor who can determine that she is obese and write a letter to give to the mother requesting that she stop contributing to the child’s obesity. Remember to use a nurturing tone at all times because fear can sometimes make us sound angry and that does not have a good outcome.

Tummy, photo by Kia Abell, United States

Willingness to be abstinent

Breakthrough, photo by Stefanie L., Meppen, GermanyPeople who are torn apart by their addiction can lose years struggling to find happiness. Having unhealthy behaviour, whether it is substance or process excesses, keeps us from finding fulfilment and serenity. Nevertheless, only when we become willing to go to any lengths to gain recovery are we able to achieve this freedom. The willingness to be abstinent is not so easy as it sounds. That is why it can be achieved with help from professionals and from self help groups where people have the experience to share about how they did it. Such groups are primarily the 12 Steps fellowship and/or SMART Recovery. The important thing to remember is NOT TO STOP SEARCHING FOR A SOLUTION TO YOUR PROBLEM.

he had so much knowledge about recovery
yet he kept relapsing and was miserable
sometimes he felt that his life was hopeless
and that he should end it
nevertheless he did not give up
33 detox attempts still did not help
then one day like a bolt of lightening
he came out of the tunnel and the
light was not an oncoming train
instead he saw the sun and the trees
his only regret was the years he had wasted
until he found the willingness to be abstinent
at least it was ‘better late than never’!

Breakthrough, photo by Stefanie L., Meppen, Germany,

Know your limitations

Shadow of a friend, photo by Marco Caliulo, Salerno, ItalyI cannot stress enough that people who are not experienced or qualified need to know their limitations when it comes to providing guidance or therapy to those who are afflicted with dysfunctional or addictive behaviours. I am being approached by so many visitors to this website who think that they can help by accommodating or enabling an addiction otherwise the person depending on them will die. Such people at times have risked their own and their children’s happiness and wellbeing in the belief that their partner is more important. The best action is to refer the afflicted person to a therapist and to also get help themselves to process the trauma they have experienced. Here is the answer I gave to one such comment.

Christy, your life is not only miserable but you have the responsibility of providing a safe upbringing for your children. Your husband is obviously in the clutches of addiction and so it is up to you to rescue yourself and your children. You have several options. You can leave him and set yourself up (and your children) in a new life free of his addiction. You can get help from a therapist specialising in this field and/or others who have had the same experiences and have succeeded in changing their lifestyles, like members of a 12 Step fellowship. Staying in the same situation and not doing anything about it, or just griping about it is not an option, particularly because you have the children to protect. So tell me what your decision is.

Shadow of a friend, photo by Marco Caliulo, Salerno, Italy

Eating disorders

Stone sorrow,photo by constantin jurcut,Rachel commented on my post on addiction and anorexia saying that she hoped I could help her. When it comes to eating out she tries to order a meal that will be easier for her to finish instead of one that she really wants and feels nervous throughout. Rachel claims she is so preoccupied with this thinking that she doesn’t finish the meal. As she is planning to travel, this problem is preventing her from going.

My response to Rachel is that as I do not know enough about her condition I cannot accurately assess her problem, however, I am willing to hazard a guess. Rachel, what you describe sounds to me that your are obsessing over your problem and that is usually the basis of an eating disorder. I have had clients who have benefited from a few sessions with me. There are also stories which can help you that are shared at OA, which is for all eating disorders not just overeating. So Rachel get professional help to guide you through this difficult condition and attend some OA meetings for support from others who have experienced what you have and found the solution.

Stone sorrow, photo by constantin jurcut, Hungary,

Wild look

Snow, photo by Rodolfo Clix, Sao Paulo, BrazilAn identifying characteristic of someone who is using drugs excessively can sometimes be that no matter how attractive they are they have a wild look. A look that threatens any notion of the personal safety of those around, even though it may not be intentional. That look appears to see through people and lacks intimacy. It creates a feeling that the afflicted person is possibly out to take whatever they can and we need to protect ourselves and our possessions. Yet the person in question thinks that no one can tell that they have be using drugs. Therefore, it is important to challenge the behaviour safely and tell them what we see, instead of pretending it is not obvious.

Patrick came to pick up Judy to go to their friend’s dinner party
as she opened the door she noticed a difference in him – a wild look
so she asked him to come in and as respectfully as she could
told him that he appeared strange and that was putting it mildly!
he excused the look by saying he had a disagreement with his boss
Judy trusted her gut feelings and stood her ground saying that she
was not comfortable with going out when he looked like that
of course he stormed off cranky but he knew that
his appearance was not as invisible as he’d thought
which was the first step towards changing his behaviour

PhD Graduation Celebration

Graduation 2, photo by Christopher Rayan, Selangor, MalaysiaLast Saturday I had my PhD Celebration at the Rose Garden Pavilion in the Royal Botanic Gardens between 12.30 and 4.30. Many weddings and other celebrations are held there because it is such an attractive venue with ambiance. There were 61 people and those who wished sat on the comfortable benches around the inside of the Pavilion and others sat outside in the beautiful garden. Everyone commented on this amazing venue. I bought food from Peter’s Cafe – roasts and baked potatoes ready sliced in nice trays. Also delicious foods prepared by my daughter Tina and my daughter-in-law Nella with help from their husbands Bill and Paul. I invited guests to bring their own drinks and desserts so that individual needs could be taken care of personally, without tempting those who don’t drink alcohol and those who don’t eat sweets.

I had intended to provide dance music so that we could let our hair down and indulge in some Greek dancing as well as other dances. However, my equipment didn’t work – drats! The Pavilion has slate flooring which is ideal for dancing. I hired the Pavilion including the nearby toilet for four hours at what I thought was a reasonable fee for such a delightful place.

Well known celebrity Bruce Barry, my dear friend, played the role of MC. Bruce shared about his experience of reading my Doctoral Thesis cover to cover, and in his charming way introduced my University Supervisor and mentor – Dr. Neil Davidson who spoke about our journey together which resulted with my graduation. Neil also read emails from Professor Stuart Hill, the founding Chair for the School of Social Ecology where I began my Uni studies in 1991, and from Debbie Horsfall – my previous Supervisor and mentor. Their kind words warmed my heart. This was followed by another friend, Steve Kirkham, reading out friendly congratulations from Bob and Colleen Ellicott who reminded me of our association which began when he was the Member for Wentworth and I was a Welfare Worker in the Community Centre in Surry Hills over 30 yrs ago. Many constituents benefited from The Hon. Bob Ellicott’s monthly visits.

Community leaders and close friends also expressed their congratulations on Saturday. These were Greek speaking community workers/radio announcers Fay Giallusi, Sophia Catharios and Litsa Diakovasili as well as John August, President of the Humanist Society of NSW.

Finally, my son Paul Zagoridis who spoke on behalf of my daughter Tina and their spouses Nella and Bill respectively and their children (who all struggled along with me on my academic journey). His words filled my heart. The previous day they attended my Graduation and as I looked at them from where I was seated on the stage next to the ‘top brass’ of UWS, I felt honoured and overcome with emotion.

Another delight of the Rose Garden Celebration was having people enter their congratulations in a book chosen for that event in which I have also glued the congratulation cards received. I got home and arranged the flowers which were given to me and opened the remaining gifts. What a delightful day.

Many thanks to all who came to share my celebration. Also my thanks to the printer: MBE who produced my new coloured business card in 3 days when others said it would take 2 weeks and for giving me a discount too.

Click here to download the Affie Adagio PhD Thesis in PDF format

Graduation 2, photo by Christopher Rayan, Selangor, Malaysia