I’ve been a cigarette smoker for about the past 5 years. During that period, I’ve had times where I didn’t smoke for 3-4 months, after which I’d pick the habit right back up again.
Now, any particular vice is not really an addiction in itself, but rather a symptom of addiction. Addiction expresses itself within a vice, like smoking or drinking alcohol. That’s why people who struggle with addiction are often addicted to multiple substances simultaneously. Usually this happens gradually over time, because addiction is a pathological disease. All vices demand that the user steadily increase their addiction in order to receive the same kind of relief that a lower dose gave them previously. From this perspective, it’s easy to see why users of an addictive substance eventually seek newer, stronger, and more novel forms to express the addictive behaviour that lives within them.
Addiction is a paradox in many ways. Addictive substances offer pleasure, relief, and temporary freedom when the pain of life becomes overwhelming. But they also create pain and a great deal of disruption in our lives and the lives of people who know addictive personalities. Not only are addictions financially costly, but we incur a great cost to our health and well-being as well.
So the very thing we look to escape pain ends up compounding our pain. Is there an intelligent way to transcend this insane cycle? To deal with our pain directly rather than using an addiction to avoid feeling our pain in the present, and thereby creating a bigger problem for us to deal with down the road? These are questions I’m currently exploring, and it is my intention to share the lessons I learn along the way.
One of the strange aspects of the mission to dissuade people from toxic substances is we have seen so clearly what isn’t effective. Load up those cigarette packs with as many skulls and daggers as you please, it hasn’t once convinced me to keep from lighting up. The addiction is so much more powerful than any warning of danger at some undisclosed point in the future. So then what are some truly effective means to discourage people from engaging these harmful substances? This is an area I’m highly interested in and currently exploring as well.
Smoking is Anti-Social
When I say smoking is anti-social, I mean that in a somewhat nontraditional sense. I’m not saying that smokers don’t have friends. Obviously that isn’t true, and part of the appeal of smoking is that it can appear to facilitate social connections; a bad habit in service of a bonding experience. What I mean is that disrespecting your own body and failing to take care of your own health actually increases the burden you place on society, on other people. This is particularly true in a country like Canada, where healthcare is paid for by tax revenue, i.e the labour of others. When you consider the fact that a prolonged cigarette or alcohol addiction will almost guarantee you an extended stay in the hospital, then it becomes fairly obvious that doing something you KNOW is injurious to your health amounts to public theft.
This is not the kind of person I want to be. I want to be a positive member of my community, not someone who drains the system of value.
So it’s here that I state my intention to stop smoking. I plan to do this my slowly tapering off my usage and eventually not smoke at all. And of course, I plan on sharing the lessons I learn along the way in the hope that it may be valuable to others also struggling with addiction. If I can offer any help to such people, then that alone will have made the effort very worthwhile.