Why am I addicted?

Part I of a series of reflections on Addictions. Exploring what they are, where they come from, and how we might use that knowledge to overcome them. I will share my personal struggle with caffeine, food, and nicotine addictions.

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Psychology, through the diagnostic tool known as the DSM-V, acknowledge addiction as a psychological disorder.  Neurobiology has isolated a gene that makes one vulnerable to addictive behaviour. The gene is activated by life stressors. So if you grew up in an environment where one or both of your parents were addicts, chances are your environment was stressful enough to activate the genetic component of addiction. However, not all addictions are the result of an addictive personality.

Substances like Caffeine and Nicotine have a further reach in society than drugs and even alcohol. 

Caffeine is almost a cultural addiction with over 80 percent of the world population consuming coffee on a daily basis. More than that, it is in energy drinks, tea, and chocolate so those who don’t drink coffee might get their caffeine from other sources.

Food, unlike other addictions, is something that we NEED to live. It is also very accessible and there is no limit to its accessibility in that it is not something you have put much effort into seeking out, nor are there any regulations on how much or how many of on thing you have to buy. Meaning, if you have money, you can go and buy a box of doughnuts from the store and there is no regulatory system outside of yourself that can dictate how many you eat or how quickly you eat them. What’s more is that when you want to quit your food addiction, you still have to eat…

I am admittedly addicted to both caffeine and food but today I am going to focus on Nicotine addiction…

Nicotine addiction is decreasing with smoke-free initiatives and public health awareness and has become taboo.

I started smoking as a way of overcoming some social anxieties. Smokers tend to be open to talking to and meeting new people in the context of the act of smoking.The commonality is established without any words exchanged. Even more, something as simple as asking to use a lighter works as an ice-breaker.

In the context of a busy social event like the bar, a family gathering, or a wedding,  it is easy enough to excuse yourself to go outside to smoke, it gives yoIMG_20160919_194859.jpgu a convenient excuse to leave. Often the conversations outside are more interesting or in depth and the noises are not so overwhelming.

To this day I have yet to find something as useful socially, as smoking. Except that with its being taboo, there are fewer people who find it socially acceptable and ends up being socially ostracizing. Why continue?

Clearly, the effects on health and appearance are not ideal. I don’t enjoy it, I don’t like the taste or the smell and I end up doing laundry more frequently so my clothes don’t smell. I no longer have a large group of friends who smoke, so why do I persist?

HABIT

I am addicted to the habits and rituals surrounding the act of smoking. I am not interested in using the vapours because that would only continue the habit, which is really what I am to overcome. I want to break the habit altogether! I don’t want to rely on a toxic substance to cope with social difficulties, but what is the alternative?

While I search for the answers to these questions, I will give you this ASMR video because I find it helpful as a part of the journey towards overcoming my addiction to the habit of smoking. Olivia Kissper ASMR  about 10 minutes into the video starts to discuss addictions in a relaxing, encouraging, and non-judgemental way which can be helpful for self-reflection.

It is hard to think of overcoming an addiction without engaging in self-blame or without tensing up and becoming frustrated. This negative thinking only perpetuates the need for escape and can be harmful to your efforts.

 

 

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