Photograph by Victoria_Borodinova
A smoker, a drug addict?
When people hear expressions like Bale, Doobie, Doobee, Doob, Dube, Finger Lid, Grass Brownies, Loaf, and Number (for Marijuana) or California Cornflakes, Dream, Double Bubble, Florida Snow, Gift-Of-The-Sun, Foo-Foo Dust (for Cocaine) or Aunt Hazel, Al Capone, Batman, Bart Simpson, Big Harry, Charley (for Heroin), either in their everyday life or in the movies they know that all these words are connected with substances that are addictive and deadly.
The funny thing is that nicotine, which is one of the most addictive (you only need one puff to get addicted) and deadliest (it kills more people yearly than all the rest of the illegal drugs combined) doesn’t have any slang names.
A smoker and specifically a tobacco smoker is another name for a nicotine drug addict. The reason that people until today do not realize that and make the connection is I think because of three reasons.
It is legal, and in the minds of the good kind, innocent people that trust easy, because that’s one of the trades of being a nice person, they assume that their government will never allow something harmful to be sold in the general population.
Unfortunately, governments around the world do not care about the health of their citizens if they cared they will ban the sales of tobacco cigarettes like they did with the so-called “Illegal drugs.”
Instead, they raise the taxes and ban smoking in public areas, which it might help the non-smokers to lead a life of better health but doesn’t solve the problem and doesn’t help the smokers quitting at all.
Many will say hey don’t be so hard on the governments they increase the price of the cigs, and my answer is so? These tactics won’t work on individuals that their logic and right mind has being stolen and hijacked by nicotine! They do not get it, people, drug addicts are not functioning 100% both physically and most importantly logically. They are sick people that need help.
Unfortunately, smoking is not seen as a sickness but as a bad habit. Do you know when I was a smoker how many times I said that if the price of my kind of tobacco brand goes up, I will quit smoking? The answer is a lot! Every time I would say that the price is high and if it goes higher I quit, never happened, like a good drug addict that wanted to get his fix I will go and pay the money to get my drug to get my fix. At some point, I was paying maybe 10 to 15 Euros every day for my cigs!! That’s 300 to 450 Euros per month; I don’t even want to calculate for the sixteen years of mindless smoking!!! You are smart you do the math.
When I was a student in Greece, and I was out of cigs and it was 2 a.m. I would walk more than 5 km just to find a kiosk and get my fix!
Another reason which is pretty much the major one that governments around the world do not ban cigarettes is that the tobacco industry makes sure to keep good “relationships” let’s say with the political status of each country where they sell their cancer, heart disease, and strokes!
Another reason is as I already said the increase of tax on cigarette consumption is money that is going to collect no matter what. Personally, I don’t see any difference between a Drug Lord with his billions of dollars he collects because he sells cocaine, heroin with the governments and tobacco industries they are doing the same thing.
The irony and the hypocrisy of the matter is that the so-called illegal drugs kill fewer people combined than smoking does alone, but hey smoking is legal right! Now saying that I don’t advocate using illegal drugs, heck no, if you are smart and I hope you are stay away from drugs either illegal or non-illegal that’s my motto.
Another tactic that governments do and in my opinion have zero effects on the smokers is to print nasty and repulsing photos of what smoking does to the human body on the covers of cigarette packs.
It might repulse and make the heads of non-smokers turn the other way but that’s it, smokers do not get it, they are drugged!!! Logic flew the window a long time ago, the images do not even register, they might get annoyed, but it won’t help them quit smoking. Trust me I know I was a nicotine drug addict for 16 years.
So the legality of the drug and the availability of the drug does not allow for the minds of people to stop and think for a moment of what they are doing and also the real nature of this deadly product.
Most people do not connect the word smoker with drug addiction because of the many years of brainwashing through advertisements either in TV or other venues, heck until the sixties they were ads that illustrated doctors promoting cigarettes!!! (Note to self: find some ads of that era)
Hollywood made the most damage, especially the old movies the black and white ones, with gangsters and cowboys, everybody smoke and the way they smoke sometimes showed who was the good guy and who was the bad guy! Like in the cowboy’s movies you could spot the good cowboy by his white hat and the bad from his black hat! Subconscious messages were transmitted to millions of people watching those movies where all the actors smoke.
I remember I always liked to tangle a cig in my lips like Humphrey Bogart (died from esophageal cancer in 1957, aged 58! by the way) did in his movies, Humphrey Bogart would usually play smart, playful, courageous, tough, occasionally reckless characters who lived in a corrupt world, with a touch of hidden moral code. All these attributes of the roles of the actor seeing with a cig in his mouth send sublime messages that I can be like that as long I smoke, or look all those courageous guys smoking; war movies did the most harm in that area too. All the heroes and the courageous men were smokers!
Most of the times I would get smoke in my eyes trying to achieve the Humphrey way of smoking, but I would not stop because I thought I was cool, and smart and tough and sophisticated! Lies all, illusions, and most sad of all smoking like all drug addictions offers you nothing.
Again most people still think that smoking is just a bad habit and not a killing drug addiction. This is mostly considered because when the first report about smoking came out from the office of the USA Surgeon General, it presented smoking as a bad habit and not as an addiction.
The reason that it was characterized like that was that at that moment in the 1960’s more than half of the male population of USA were smokers and women were starting to catch up too.
You just couldn’t go on public record that more than half of the male population of the country were drug addicts!!!
Of course, the tobacco companies exploited to the absolute this definition, and every time someone would accuse them that they are selling drugs and not products as they like to say they will quote the Surgeon General’s report of 1964.
Of course, nobody knows about the 1988 Surgeons General report that sets the truth and says in black and white that nicotine is a substance with addictive nature and is deadly to humans.
There are people still that do not consider nicotine as an addictive substance! Let’s not talk about people let’s talk about the medical society which until recently nicotine’s addictive behavior was still a debate!
Now let me give you a few reasons why nicotine is a highly addictive drug and this information derive mainly from my experience that involves me, involve other, from my observation of other people and from the knowledge I accumulated and acquired by reading books and medical articles.
- When I was a smoker I was obsessed, I was constantly thinking of cigs, meaning I always had to have a pack open and also have 2 packs closed as a backup if I didn’t have this setup I was always worried and I was psychologically stressed that at any moment I will stay without cigs and I wouldn’t know what will happen next. I had thoughts of the end of the world without my cigs. Sometimes if I was left with only a few cigs in my pack and didn’t have extra and either was night or not a place to buy cigs near then panic would get over me, and I was acting crazy sometimes raising my voice. Now that’s not a normal behavior!
- You can’t believe how many time I had to smoke but I couldn’t because I was in the house of a non-smoker and outside was cold and windy, but that didn’t stop me from going out in the balcony into the wind and cold to smoke! I was getting frozen, but as a good drug addict, I was out there smoking away. When you do something that is causing you physical or psychological harm, then you have an addiction.
- A smoker must be able on average every 20 to 30 minutes to smoke, in the old days where smoking laws were nonexistent, and a lot of working places smoking was not forbidden, smokers will just smoke every 30 minutes, and they would be “happy.” I know I used to do that in working places when I was working in Greece back in 2003! One day I must go and ask forgiveness from the non-smokers that worked with me, for exposing them to second-hand smoke. Now it’s a whole new ball game; it is forbidden to smoke in areas or work, indoors, public places, etc. So Smokers cannot leave their job every 30 minutes to go out and smoke so they prolong as much as they can their withdrawal symptoms, and then they go smoke, but they take longer smoking breaks now so the time they lose from work it’s the same as if they would go out every 30 minutes and stay less. I see this now at my current job, with clockwise precision the smokers of the floor where I work will go outside to smoke. Now if that is not compulsive behavior I don’t know what is. I see people that are so sick with the flu that they literally cannot breathe but like clockwise every number of minutes they go out to smoke!
- You know that nicotine is a highly addictive drug because if you manage to stay away from cigs for let’s say 2 to 3 days, you will have withdrawal symptoms, the severity or not of the symptoms is not something I want to address now, but you have them. I had them many times when I tried to quit smoking in the failed attempts I had which were enough and also when I had my successful quit back in 2009 so many years ago. I was shaking but not so much from the physiological withdrawal but mostly it was psychological, I was irritable, I craved for a cigarette, I couldn’t focus, and I was restless. If smoking was not a drug addiction then and as many people until today believe to be a bad habit when you quit you shouldn’t have any withdrawal symptoms which is not clearly the case.
- The descriptions of the previous reasons obviously show clearly that I was not in control of my life, nicotine was. My whole social existence was adapted to accommodate my drug addiction. Example, how many times I left the movies in the first 30 minutes of it to go out and smoke and then come back in, upsetting the other people watching the movie. The excuse I was giving was that I had to use the toilet, not truth I had to go out and take my fix like a good drug addict.
- When I was a smoker and told by other people that my smoking was killing me I was always in denial, I didn’t believe them; I thought my behavior was normal and socially acceptable, well to a degree it was, smoking is not socially acceptable anymore, people are more informed and woke up. I was always in this deadly denial; smoking has nothing to do with my health that was my state of mind at some point back then. Also now as an ex-smoker I see the same denial on the smokers I encounter who many of them have chronic colds and flu and when I point out to them that smoking plays a big part for that, they look at me like I said the biggest lie ever! They don’t, believe me, they ignore me, and they are in a sick denial as I was so many years ago.
- When I first started smoking, and that was back in 1993, and I was serving my military duty I tried the best I could to hide the fact that I was a smoker from my mother. Of course, my mother was not stupid; she could smell my clothes that were saturated with smoke and nicotine. I said this again but if my mother back then said something I might stop smoking out of shame or out of letting her down. The reason that I didn’t want her to know I was smoking was that I knew she did not approve and not so much because it was bad for me. I knew in a slight subconscious level that I was killing myself, but it wasn’t let’s say “real” enough in my head to wake me up and help me escape the nicotine trap.
- Blackout is a symptom of an addictive substance. I can’t even count the moments where I would wake up, make my coffee and light a cig, drinking, and smoking and while I was drinking my coffee I would light a cig and when I went to throw the ash in the ashtray I would realize that my previous cig was still unfinished smoking in the tray! I forgot that I didn’t finish the previous cig, now if that is not a blackout I don’t know what is. Also, I had difficulty remembering things. I would go into a room and would forget why I was there, and I would stand there like an idiot scratching my head trying to figure out what I wanted the first time.
- Depression is common in individuals with addictive behaviors. You can say that again; I was textbook depressed, my social meeting was minimal, I slept a lot, I mean a lot, this shows I didn’t want to have any contact with other people. I was physically not smiling or laughing often, something that until today if you see my face you can clearly see I have a sad face. The muscles of my face adapted to my inner emotions and depressed situation of all those years. Smoking and nicotine hijack the dopamine receptors replacing the natural rewarding system of our brain with the nicotine addiction.
- My self-confidence and self-esteem was always low, that’s is shown to the inability of me to ask a girl out for a date, I was afraid of rejection, I didn’t have confidence in my ability to carry on a conversation and worst of all I thought I was not good looking enough, something which is not true at all.
- When I started smoking back in 1993, when I smoke my first cigarette honestly in the back of my mind I thought that I would not smoke again, I was in a weak personal moment and I thought to light one will help go through it, little I knew that our body and especially our liver this amazing organ which is one of the main reasons people can abuse their body with all kind of poisons and still functions. When we smoke, nicotine enters the body, bloodstream, brain and because it’s a deadly toxin the body and especially the liver starts to remove it from your body, by doing that nicotine is expelled from our bloodstream creating an immediate drug withdrawal, so we need to smoke again, so we reinsert nicotine back to the body so the withdrawal symptoms will stop and then the liver cleans the nicotine again, but in time the liver makes it faster and more effectively, practice does make perfect, so in order to keep up with the fast pace the liver removes the nicotine from our body we need to smoke more and more cigs, that’s why smokers start with one a day and end up smoking 40 plus a day! This is called tolerance, the amount of the poison the body can handle every day, that’s why you smoke so many cigs.
The irony of the matter is that at some point it doesn’t matter how many cigs you smoke every day you still be “unsatisfied” because the liver will always remove more nicotine than you can physically take in by smoking and maybe some smokers will wake up and see that they are feeding a drug addiction, one that they cannot keep up anymore both physically and money wise and maybe they wake up enough to be able to escape the nicotine prison.