Welcome to Junkie Country!

I was reading (the funny and thoughtful) Bern Morley’s blog So Now What? When i googled her to check her website address later, this Tweet of hers popped up…

Bern_Morley I think Dr Phil fails to realise this woman is probably menopausal. Give her some fucking hormones and she’ll be AOK.

Sort of sums up her appeal for me – she speaks her mind, and she’s funny – she doesn’t swear much, usually, but she’s a mum, so under extreme stress at all times  – and yes, i recommend you follow her on Twitter. (I recommend you follow me too – though at the moment i’m focused on my book, so not tweeting or blogging much.)

I was reading Bern’s blog post  where she talked about people smoking round kids in 80′s Queensland and how she still sees people lighting up around children. I was surprised people were still smoking with kids in the car then – my parents used to, but that was in the 1960′s and 1970′s.

However, i reminded myself that only a couple of years ago, a very pregnant 25 yr old neighbour nearly made me fall off my chair when she lit up a cigarette. Her 45 yr old mother, who was there, seemed to think it was alright, because she rolled her daughter the cigarette. Two days later, out popped her (underweight, chesty) baby.

I admit, i’m stunned anyone is still pretending it’s okay. Even if you can’t give up, you can’t pretend it’s good for you. You can’t be that stupid, and you can’t be that ill-informed (in a Western country, that is – sadly the tobacco companies are still making lots of money and it’s rising every year in Asia and Africa).

You couldn’t pretend otherwise after about the mid-70′s even in Western Australia, which was a bit like the US in the 50′s, but during the 60′s & 70′s. Suddenly they admitted the cig companies were lying, having told us for years there was no proof it did cause cancer – I was already addicted by then.

The first time i tried to stop, and then realised i couldn’t – I was 14ish. I was probably addicted to secondary smoke before i left the womb, although my mother stopped smoking during all her pregnancies, my father didn’t, (he even smoked in bed) and no man went outside to smoke in 1960.

It actually took me, despite knowing all those years, another 30 or so to give up. This is what being an addict means. Your will to stop isn’t necessarily going to get you there. (It will if you keep at it, but most smokers retreat to “well, i tried, and everyone said for god’s sake, smoke, you’re horrible without them” – yeah, like that’s a reason to stop trying, junkie.)

I tried several times, managed up to six months a couple of them, didn’t last the week more often. In 2002, my father died of lung cancer. I still smoked. I didn’t even try to give up.

Back in the late 60′s and early 70′s, there were lots of cigarettes marketed to women, and advertised on television and in magazines. Smoking was cool, sophisticated, and an easy way to be older – adults who didn’t smoke were a tiny minority, remember – and it also became a way to show teen rebellion.

I bet it’s even cooler for teens now, seeing as everyone’s trying to stop you, even the government has stopped pretending they believe the tobacco companies any more, (woo hoo, a taste of nicotine-soaked teen rebellion, anyone?) and you know it’s at least a 50% chance it will kill you. Gosh, even driving drunk doesn’t have that kind of attrition rate and smouldering bad boy/grrl danger.

Smoking does kill that many smokers, and it will stunt your children’s growth and lead to problems for them, mentally and physically – whether in the womb or in the room.

However, I do wish they wouldn’t pretend it ages you as much as they do in those ads on the television – those awful haggard toothless women aren’t that way from just smoking. That’s a lifetime of misery, alcoholism, &/or heavy drug addiction written on those faces.

Alcoholism is just frequent binge drinking, btw – and that’s the clue, if you can’t stop once you open a bottle, unless you pass out first – maybe google ‘signs of alcoholism’.

Booze is a drug, like cigs, one the government also makes megabucks out of while it destroys families, relationships, and lives. They do the same with other addictions like gambling.

With booze, they’ll happily tax it, and send you to gaol if you break the law under the influence, despite them saying, alcohol fucks with your brain, you can’t tell how messed up you are, so don’t drink and drive – but it’s alright for you to drink at home, lose all your usual morals, and bash your family.  People are destroyed by booze.

Smoking, on the other hand, kills you in several horrible ways. Heart Disease? Lung cancer? Something slower? Emphysema?  Take your pick, they’re all fun. Of course, it also costs a fortune, and causes you to crawl in abject subjugation to a legal drug, the whole of your (shorter than average) life.

That’s what got me in the end. Getting older meant every year took me closer to the diagnosis of lung cancer. One of my uncles gave up for 20 years and still died of it, one was diagnosed at my age, so i know my own chances still aren’t good.

This drug, nicotine, is one the government keeps legal, but taxes higher, and higher – despite most people who now smoke being poor, and cost being negligible when one is addicted to a drug – or why would heroin/crack/meth addicts steal to fuel their habits?

People already buy their cigs and booze, then pay their bills, and buy food for their families. They go gambling and spend the rent money, while the government rakes in the money- maybe think about that, next time you vote.

The huge joke about my dad dying of lung cancer is, he’d given up a couple of months before they discovered the cancer, (having smoked for 50+ years) because of his heart condition, which needed surgery. He thought it was funny, anyway.

Oh yes, i’m doomed, both sides of the family have heart trouble – my father’s two brothers also died of either lung cancer or heart problems, while they also had lung cancer/heart problems. It extends into the grandparents.

So, there i was, tired of being scared every time i breathed in that smoke i craved, that didn’t really satisfy, and so tired of being Nicotine’s bitch. Tired of collecting adequate  supplies plus a spare lighter every time i moved position in the living room, let alone went on a whole day’s journey somewhere.

I gave up for seven months. Cold turkey, with no drug assistance, and no help from the biggest lie of all – therapeutic nicotine. It’s a poison, don’t keep taking it – i don’t know anyone who’s given up using therapeutic nicotine – i know lots who tried.

So there I was – completely clean, scary or what? I discovered my breaking point – i thought the end of the world had come.

We were flooded in for 4 days one midwinter, with no power, no food, and a dwindling supply of tea candles (the tiny ones you use for meditation) to warm water enough for tepid cupasoups.

We couldn’t heat any food, though we had a fair bit, as there was sewage in the floodwaters and we couldn’t get anything hot enough to stop food poisoning.

This was an extra worry as Mr Whatsit was just out of hospital after spinal surgery, confined to a stiff neck brace. He kept going outside (on the veranda, well above the water)  to survey the flood and have a smoke. He seemed much happier than me. On the third day, i said, give me one!

I was hooked again.

It took me six weeks to break the habit again. I used marijuana to break it that time, after having trouble with insane cravings. I’d go have a puff on a water pipe whenever the cravings hit insane levels. I have smoked grass for 20 yrs on and off, and it’s not addictive, sugar puffs – this junkie knows addictive.

I have a dear friend who has struggled since she was about 14 with addiction to heroin. She says giving up heroin was a walk in the park compared to giving up smoking.

Since I gave up the last time it’s been two years. Two years yesterday. I’m quite surprised, and only last week had an out-of-the-blue craving for tobacco, under stress. (Yes, i still smoke marijuana – if you have a problem with that, you’re on the wrong blog.)

As the cigarette craving hit last week, I reminded myself that i wasn’t flooded in with no freaking food or heat, my partner only four weeks out of surgery, so having a cigarette wasn’t a rational response.

Mistress Nicotine was still crooning her siren song, telling me i’d feel better, and didn’t i deserve a little treat? Hadn’t i missed her, didn’t i still sometimes think, ah, a cig would be nice right now?

I hit her over the head with a mallet. Fucking cow. I distracted myself, I lied and said i could have one tomorrow if i still felt that way. I had a bong, I cleaned my teeth with a mint flavoured toothpick, I chopped veggies for dinner and ate some raw- in short, everything i could think of to stop myself doing it.

When it comes down to it, it’s really going to have to be the end of the world, before i have another cigarette. With my family’s predilections for dying of heart disease or lung cancer, (which are smoking-related diseases, lest we forget), continuing to smoke was suicidal – and i’m not suicidal.

I was suicidal when i realised i was hooked. i remember thinking how awful it was, being an addict, what a failure i was – at only 14. I’ve no doubt it had a negative effect on my life and my behaviour.

So, if you’re trying to give up, and getting depressed, instead of smoking again, Google for help in your area, and call or visit the sites for support.

In Australia, there’s the Quit Line, 13 78 48 – specifically for those trying to give up.

If it’s making you feel like death’s better (or any time you’re down, depressed, suicidal), you can call Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, and the BeyondBlue info line 1300 22 4636  -with thanks to the friend who supplied those.

Everyone i know well who has tried to or has given up has suffered the most awful welling up of psychological debris, much of it problems they thought they’d dealt with.

Many of them couldn’t stand it, and went back to smoking. I remember my father trying to give up back in the 70′s. If he’d done it, he might still be alive, which would annoy my mother in a most satisfying way.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, who stops, has no problems, and never looks back – you were smoking why? *rolls eyes* I cannot understand why anyone who could stop wouldn’t just do it.

My mother did that. After smoking for about fifty years most days, but not a lot every day, except in social situations, she had a heart attack, and because her doctor said it would be a good idea, she stopped.

Without any cravings at all. Gawd.

*****

For those of you only born yesterday (any time since the 70′s i spose) the title is a pun on the old Marlboro™ cigarette  commercials,
“Welcome to Marlboro Country”

© stinginthetail.wordpress.com

About stinginthetail

Australian. Female. On Twitter as @stinginthetail. I write as Polo Shawcross. 1960 vintage. Quite strange. Just published The Birthday Dragon - free sample at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/63286 in top 10 Highest Rated SFF. View all posts by stinginthetail

4 responses to “Welcome to Junkie Country!

  • mehtoole

    As a hooked smoker, I needed to read this. That feeling of realizing you’re addicted is scary. I tried this summer to quit and all was going well, and then a friend offered me a smoke. Annnd I took it.

    Another friend of mine who was with us at the time said, “Hey, didn’t you quit?! Don’t take that cigarette!”

    Of course, I glared at her. Such is the power of tobacco. I was right back with a fresh pack of red apples within the hour.

    It’s time to give quitting another go. *sigh* right after I finish this lassst pack.

    • stinginthetail

      oh yes, i’ve been in that situation, with the well-meaning lecture, and all i could think of was “piss off, i want a smoke!”. i used to find the government stop smoking ads made me crave cigs more than anything else (along with making me nauseous) – that and a lecture from a non-smoker, lol. I figure most smokers will read this and light up. Was a time, i would have too. That’s one of many reasons stopping nicotine in my life has been such a joy – i’m free of that compulsion. (Touch wood.)

      And yes, it comes back, the longing, but nothing near as bad as it was in the beginning. It’s more a “hmm, i’d really like a ciggie” nostalgia than a “OMG give me nicotine before i kill something” craving.

      Good luck with it :)

  • Bernadette Morley

    Why thank you Miss Sting. Very very appreciated.
    You also made me realise a few things. I always get angry because people should just “give it up” I don’t have the addiction so I can’t possibly understand.

    I guess it’s similar to me not giving up coffee/alcohol and junk food. All kill you in the long run and I am well aware of that, but it feels like I’ve got time to stop it. Whereas I don’t really.

    Great writing. Bern x

    • stinginthetail

      thank you very much :) and wow, this post’s been good for communicating with people – i thought the nonsmokers would just feel superior and the smokers would feel threatened and go light up. (which i’m pretty sure they’re doing, lol.)

      Addiction is a funny thing – humans seem to be able to both addict themselves to anything, and then to ignore any bad effects – i ignored 30 years of insomnia, and never thought it might be the coffee i drank. i was ASTONISHED when i cut down on coffee, and suddenly, i had no insomnia! Who knew? lol

      “Nothing in excess” isn’t something humans do well :)

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