Psychological Addiction is the state of mind when we become dependent on a person or thing to take away the pain we are going through, whether it be mentally or emotionally.
I remember my first experience of having a cigarette, I was a 15-year-old ‘tomboy’ and I liked to hang out with the boys, I always wanted to be seen as one of the lads. Whereas girls of my age were interested in hooking up with guys romantically, I was more interested in playing boys games.
My first time smoking a cigarette was struggling to light it, as I was not aware that you had to suck on it, when I eventually managed to light it and took the drag, I would be coughing my guts out. I recall the awful taste of tar.
When I think back to this era, I felt like it was a ‘grown up’ and ‘cool’ thing to do, I felt part of the ‘in crowd’. I don’t remember it being a delightful experience.
I was aware of all the information about the danger of smoking, but as a teenager I felt like I was invincible.
Smoking became my best friend and a detrimentally long-term bad habit.
I remember going on holiday to Clapton-on-Sea with my parents, who did not smoke, and their best friends, one of whom was a heavy smoker, to this day he remembers me always taking cigarettes from him, although he tried to discourage me but understood my craving.
My habitual smoking began when I was 18, as I could afford to fund my habit. Benson & Hedges were my favourite brand, they came in a gold box of 10’s or 20’s, if I could not afford to buy a unit I used to purchase ‘singles’ from the local newsagents.
My first attempt at giving up smoking was when I was 19, I had a sore throat which turned to tonsillitis and then ‘quinsy’ which is an abscess that covered my tonsils. I could not eat or drink and ended up being admitted to hospital. I vowed I would never pick up a cigarette again.
Like I mentioned before, being young you feel like you are indispensable. After a month or so I went back to smoking as they say ‘old habits die hard’
I did not realise, until my late 20s, that I was addicted to nicotine, I believed that I needed this hit every day or I would be stressed. I smoked like it was oxygen for my body and I must have smelled like an ashtray.
Throughout my life, my parents would talk about the dangers of smoking and complain about my clothes reeking of smoke. I never listened to them, at the time I needed this poison, it kept me going.
It’s kind of scary when you find that you become dependent on drugs to keep you going but I must admit out of the 10 a day habit the best cigarettes were first thing in the morning and after a good meal, I found that they repressed my appetite for food.
I tried giving up in my late 30s and managed to abstain for 3 years as I was a fitness competitor in natural body conditioning, but when the going got tough I went straight back to my smoky companion.
People would ask me “why do you smoke? Smoking gives you cancer.” My answer was ‘some people smoke all their lives and don’t get cancer.’ I guess that was my way of justifying my addiction.
If I could not sleep at night I would smoke, when I was stressed or upset, I’d smoke, when I saw someone on the TV smoking I’d smoke, the minute I stepped out of my house I’d smoke.
A cigarette was my ‘crutch to lean’ on in bad times and would start being complimented with an alcoholic drink.
I would live and breathe smoking. If I had very little money, I would rather buy cigarettes than food.
Alcohol also played its part in my Psychological Addiction, I used to drink this in moderation but whenever my mental health got too much, I would find myself drinking copious amounts to block out the negative thoughts.
My parents were constantly encouraging me to stop drinking and I was seen as an alcoholic. I still do not admit to alcoholism because I never drank to get drunk. I just saw myself going through a bad time and just needed something stronger to take the edge off.
I just wanted to feel ‘tipsy’ but still in control. Eventually the drink begun to no longer make me feel drunk and happy.
I began to feel dull, more depressed and restless. I began to feel and look bloated in my appearance. I was thirsty for this poison and the worst part of it is that medication does not mix with alcohol.
The guilt set in when my Beloved Father, who had stage IV cancer, was around me to watch me destroying myself while I kept him company, he was not a smoker or drinker, yet he was diagnosed with this awful disease. I should have had it.
Today, I am almost 3 years sober, I am still confused as to whether I am an alcoholic or not because people have questioned my testimony as someone who did not behave the same way as most alcoholics do.
Basically, as I see it, I had no shameful gory stories to share, I acted responsibly, never lost my home etc.
According to some I may not have been classed as an ‘alcoholic’ because I did not fit the categories of the worst-case scenario, for example, I did not lose my flat, sofa surf, sleep rough, sell my body, act irresponsibly or get in with the wrong crowd.
I do not intend to pick up another alcoholic drink today and pray that I never fall back into this dreadful habit which I made me a regular visitor to the general hospital and the guilt of wasting NHS time and resources.
Drinking and smoking did not have the desired effect that I was hoping for, it did not solve my problems, it never made me happy, it was just a coping mechanism that was bringing me nearer to my expiry date.
Reflecting on my addictive behaviour, I would no longer condemn anybody as I have never walked in their shoes.
There are many other kinds of addiction whether it be gambling, pornography, shopping or narcotics all I can say is that, although you may think you’re in control of your problems you are just making your situation worse, whether it be going into debt or become very unwell.
Any kind of addiction is not healthy if you feel it is controlling your life.
People can do these things in moderation.
In everything there must be a balance.
The Scripture of Balance