Long ago I regularly stuffed my body with substances that didn’t belong there. Exotic stuff like Acetylpyrazine, alpha-Amylcinnamaldehyde, Butyl Phenylacetate, Bisabolene, Maltodextrin, 3,7-Dimethyl-6-Octenoic Acid, Isoamyl Benzoate, for example.
Primary ingredients for LSD or marijuana?
No, just some of the 200+ chemical ingredients in nicotine.
If nicotine sounds lethal, it is. So lethal that it’s been used as a pesticide for centuries. But when we’re young, we’re the bullet-proof heirs-apparent to the indisputable truth that we're omnipotent and we could withstand the toxic consequences of our bad decisions.
People say they smoke because they enjoy it. It relaxes them. Maybe so. Scientists found that nicotine elevates the levels of a neurotransmitter called dopamine in the parts of the brain that produce feelings of pleasure and reward. Good a reason as any to smoke.
Next month is a personal milestone – I'm celebrating 20 years since I filed a restraining order against cigarettes. People ask me, “Don’t you miss cigarettes?” Well, no, that’s why I quit smoking – so I’d no longer yearn for the abuse.
Y’see, nicotine is addicting and I didn’t smoke for enjoyment. Fact is, I wasn’t even aware most of the time I smoked. I just mindlessly lit up and puffed one after the other. Why? Dopamine, remember? I smoked because I was a dope. See the connection?
People say it’s easy to quit smoking. I agree. It’s so easy to quit that I quit more than a hundred times, before I quit quitting and actually quit.
Nicotine addiction is like a dream where one free-falls through life with fog-colored glasses and cigarettes produce a smoke screen to block the healthy rays of emotional growth and awareness. Addictive behavior traces its roots to core issues. Becoming a non-smoker begins a process of recovery where we have the chance to discover the glitches and fix them.
After 20 years in a smoke-free zone I had my “Ah-hah!” moment. I learned that I wasn't hooked on nicotine at all. My Jones of choice was – ta-DAH! – avoidance.
Cigarettes are the perfect complement for avoiding unpleasant stuff. Don’t like the way someone looked at you? Puff! Didn’t get that promotion? Puff-puff! Put on hold for an hour while trying to get through to a customer service rep? Puff-puff-puff!
I kicked the cigarette habit, but the avoidance monkey is still on my back. Even after 20 years. This post was scheduled to publish ten days ago (notice the date on the cartoon), but didn't make it. The topic I set out to expose as the core of my addiction - avoidance - is what prevented me from making the deadline.
Maybe it's too soon to celebrate.