“Powerful Cravings, Powerful Motivations,” Ensign, Feb. 2002, 56
The more smoking-cessation techniques a person uses, the greater the likelihood of success. Help may be obtained from professionals, family, medication, fasting, prayer, and priesthood blessings. Psalm 55:22 encourages us to “cast [our] burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain [us].” Following are the stories of two Latter-day Saints who successfully quit smoking using all the resources available to them.
Parker* was raised in an active Latter-day Saint family but drifted into the use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs in his midteen years. These addictions pulled him into a decade of inactivity, which he periodically yet unsuccessfully tried to put behind him. By the time he met and fell in love with Ashley, a faithful Latter-day Saint, he had pulled himself away from drugs and alcohol through attending Alcoholics Anonymous but couldn’t seem to break the stranglehold of tobacco.
As he talked with Ashley about the gospel’s place in their future marriage, he had an increased desire to return to activity and a growing faith that God could help him.
“I will never forget the day when I had my last cigarette,” says Parker. “Even though I was down to one, two, or three cigarettes a day or every other day, it seemed impossible to get the power of nicotine out of me. I determined this one day that I was going to stop no matter what. But as the day wore on, the cravings for a cigarette got stronger and stronger until I could hardly control myself. All I could think of was not giving in. I prayed silently all the time. It became almost unbearable. Sometimes it seemed like my mind and body were going crazy with craving, but I kept praying harder and harder. I went through the motions of my work and did anything to try and get my mind off tobacco. By early evening, I was living from minute to minute as my whole body cried out for a cigarette all the time my whole mind and heart were crying out in prayer. I thought again and again about Ashley and the temple marriage I wanted more than anything. The evening wore on, and pain filled my entire body. When the midnight hours came, I still hadn’t smoked, but it seemed all I could do was pray for help. Then in the early-morning hours, I became aware that the hunger for a cigarette was no longer there. And I was so thankful for Heavenly Father’s help.”
For Parker, the desire to be sealed eternally in the temple to Ashley kept him focused on one goal and served as unwavering motivation for him to bear the initial pain and cravings that came to him. Prayer sustained his spirit as he struggled to override the physical withdrawal. As subsequent cravings came, he successfully overcame them, though he admits they were not as severe as the craving following his last cigarette. He and Ashley were recently sealed in the temple for time and all eternity.
In Ether 12:27 the Lord promises: “If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. … My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; … I make weak things become strong unto them.”
Converts often experience a mighty change of heart that provides for them a strong motivation to change. “When you receive a spiritual witness that the gospel is true, you can’t turn your back on it,” says Carolyn, who had been smoking two packs a day for most of the eight years she smoked. “I knew I wanted to be baptized. I had had the missionary discussions once before and knew when the missionaries challenged me to obey the Word of Wisdom, I would say yes. During that missionary discussion, I smoked one cigarette after another knowing they would be my last. I don’t know how the missionary had the courage to ask me if I would accept the challenge to obey the Word of Wisdom as I sat there smoking, but he did. He was shocked when I said yes. We walked together outside to my trash can, where I threw away all of my unsmoked cigarettes.”
Professional and medical treatment were not readily available when Carolyn quit. “I need help,” she said to her friend Laura. Knowing that fast Sunday was coming up, Laura said, “Let me talk with a few people close to you, and we will fast with you.” Carolyn agreed. On fast Sunday, she drew strength from the knowledge that so many were fasting with her and giving their support. It was enough to keep her motivated and focused on her commitment.
That was 30 years ago—many years before stop-smoking help and medications were available. Carolyn became one of the few of every 100 who are successful at quitting cold turkey. Though her addiction was severe and her cravings powerful, she kept her resolve strong by continually drawing upon the fact that she knew the gospel was true. Her desire to be baptized and attend the temple led the way for her.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we find courage to trust in the Lord to “make a way to escape, that [we] may be able to bear it.” Smokers who humbly ask the Lord to bless them one day at a time and strive to apply the principles of smoking cessation will be more likely to succeed.
“The Lord has commanded you to take good care of your body. To do this, observe the Word of Wisdom, found in Doctrine and Covenants 89. … Never use tobacco products, such as cigarettes, snuff, chewing tobacco, cigars, and pipe tobacco. They are very addictive and will damage your body and shorten your life. … Never let Satan or others lead you to think that breaking the Word of Wisdom will make you happier or more attractive.”
For the Strength of Youth (2001), 36–37.