Last week I posted about my coffee addiction and looks like @ecotrain has thought it's a good idea to look into the topic, to see who is addicted to what. Addiction is a serious problem and getting even more serious and the world is not going in the right direction regarding the matter in my opinion.
So the question is: What are you addicted to and how does it help and hinder you?
What Are You Addicted To?
At the moment I don't have any major addiction, some minor problems with food but nothing I can't manage. However, I'd like to share my story with you, about an old addiction of mine, which was smoking.
I'm not a smoker anymore, gave up smoking about ten or so years ago, can't even remember when exactly. The whole thing started after finishing highschool. You know how it is. One cigarette with the coffee, a few more in the evening to look cool while out with friends, nothing serious at the beginning. Then I started to buy cigarettes regularly and smoke every day.
The funny thing is I've never been a heavy smoker, only smoke a few cigarettes a day as the taste and the smell was not something I loved, yet I did it for years. I know real smokers are not bothered by the smell, they may not feel it anymore but I was.
Stressful days made it worse as instead of smoking about four cigarettes a day I smoked six or seven and felt it in my throat, sometimes had sore throat. Obviously I know it's not healthy, everyone knows it but the fact that smoking is not killing you instantly makes people ignore the risks and continue smoking for decades.
Giving it up wasn't such a big deal for me as quitting drinking coffee. It came a day when literally wasn't in the mood for smoking and didn't light my first cigarette. The next day was the same and I thought if I can easily live without smoking, why would I go through all the trouble to smoke?! So I gave up smoking and since then I think I have smoked two cigarettes in total to show myself I hate it, and I do hate it. Now I only see the bad side of it and I know I'm never going to smoke again.
How Does It Help And Hinder You?
When I gave up smoking I stated to think why on earth are people smoking despite the damaging effect smoking has on your health, not to mention the costs as cigarettes are not cheap, no matter where you live. Governments are making sure you pay some extra taxes.
The biological factors involved in smoking relate to how the brain responds to nicotine. When a person smokes, a dose of nicotine reaches the brain within about ten seconds. At first, nicotine improves mood and concentration, decreases anger and stress, relaxes muscles and reduces appetite. Source
This is the scientific explanation of why people are smoking. Life is stressful and sometimes there's no way one can avoid the day by day stress, so many are smoking to be able to get through the day. This wouldn't be a problem if they would only smoke when they feel stressed but unfortunately it doesn't work that way. Once you start smoking, you smoke no matter what's the situation. You smoke at work, on your day off, when you're mountain climbing, enjoying nature, which is supposed to be for relaxing, forgetting the stress accumulated during the week. In fact these recreational activities are not having the calming effect on you, only smoking does as you got addicted.
Regular doses of nicotine lead to changes in the brain, which then lead to nicotine withdrawal symptoms when the supply of nicotine decreases. Smoking temporarily reduces these withdrawal symptoms and can therefore reinforce the habit.
This cycle is how most smokers become nicotine dependent. Source
After some time your body/brain gets used to getting the daily nicotine dose and you'll end up not feeling anything anymore, smoking cigarettes after cigarettes that have no effect calming on you. This is when things get complicated. Some will be looking at other possibilities to get the result they need. Stronger cigarettes are not really an option, so they will be looking for a substitute, or a complementary one. I don't want to name it as I am truly against it and have no intention of advertising it.
How Did I Deal With Smoking
As I mentioned earlier, I wasn't crazy about the nicotine smell on me, and on my clothes at all. Smoking inside was not an option for me as you can never get the smell out of the house, never. Books, clothes, furniture, everything will smell like cigarettes. Nowadays smoking is forbidden mostly everywhere (in most of the countries) so even if it's a bar or a pub, you need to go outside to smoke. You see people having dinner and then leaving for 5 minutes to have a smoke on the street as they are smokers, can't live without it. I find that strange but can also understand they don't have any other option.
One thing I know for sure is that the more addiction you have, the less freedom you get. While I was a coffee drinker, I needed to organize my days in a way to have my coffee, otherwise I knew I'll be dealing with headaches and obviously who wants headaches? I've been carrying my bottle of coffee with me all day, every day. If I traveled somewhere where there was no possibility of making my own coffee, I needed to make sure to have a coffee shop somewhere near to get my daily dose. Smoking was no different. Always looking for a 5 minute window to sneak out, find a place where I could smoke.
Tell me honestly how can you call that freedom? You can't! That is anything but freedom. Cigarettes and coffee had been ruling my life for so long, even though I've never been a heavy smoker. This had to come to an end and I'm glad I've been able to quit both without much problem.
Life After Addiction
There's life after addiction, no matter what anyone says. It's not easy to quit an addiction, especially for so many years, but it's possible. Now, after these two addiction, especially the last one, that was coffee, I know better to pay attention to my habits and not let anything to become an addiction.
It made me understand what it means, why I am doing it and with that, obviously I know how to control it. This is my biggest win for me. I don't regret being addicted as lucky me, I have not suffered any permanent damage (at least not that I know of), but I've learned a lot that will come in handy in the future.
I still believe everything is in your head, if you can convince your head you don't need that, your body will follow. Taking painkillers before you experience the actual pain, just because you know the pain will come, drinking coffee because you know otherwise you'll be getting a headache, a few examples of how we are fooling ourselves and becoming addicted to this and that. Treating the symptoms instead of the cause is never the solution.