It’s always painfully slowly that we realize we have acquired bad habits, in small, self-denying spurts of rare self-realization. Recently I’ve had that elusive ‘a-ha!’ moment about myself that made me realize the small ascent (descent?) into my own case of bad habitry, particularly for me, nicotine.
When I was 20 years old I lit my first cigarette, a now deeply regretted minty choice of Camel Crush, because that was what was offered to me. I didn’t particularly like the menthol taste swimming around my mouth, but I liked the light smoke swimming around my head.
It progressed slowly from there, as all things do, from that one cigarette from that one guy that one time to expecting a cigarette from any guy at any event after any sort of intoxication. I eventually got tired of bumming during parties and started buying my own, it seemed smarter at the time. My smoke-lending friends thought so too.
Well since I had a pack in my car regularly after that I thought it would be okay to have one on my way to class, after a particularly tough test, or traveling back home. I took walks in the middle of studying or left for class earlier than usual on particularly anxious days, just to get in a couple puffs or half a cigarette. Even today admitting that it is a problem for me I will say that I never smoked as much as my family members or older friends, but I did smoke about ⅓ or half the time they did.
Today at 25 I am realizing that the control over the ‘social’ habit I thought I had has turned into a full blown routine, a start to finish cycle of wanting, needing, taking, regretting. This small scale addiction has caused me to rethink my priorities, both money, and health wise, as my seemingly girly figure hacks up a lung on the regularly and pulls five dollar bills from my back pocket for more packs so often that I may get carpal tunnel.
Last year I tried to slowly wean off, to only smoke 3 full cigarettes a day, typically breaking every cigarette down into half or thirds by smoke session. I was successful, though it was hard to do (for the long month that I actually did). I recently decided to try this again on drunken new year’s resolution-fueled goal making session and then even more recently realized that I can’t quite get there this time, I can’t get down to only 3 cigarettes,, whether it’s my lack of willpower this go around or stronger need (mental) for nicotine.
I even know typing this that it isn’t a need for nicotine physically, honestly it makes me feel sick half the time. It’s a mental need to keep routine and to unwind. After work, smoke. After a meal, smoke. After sex, smoke. I mean, this has been a part of my life for 5 years now, with my Saturday morning cup of coffee and once a month cigarette smoke filled drives home on highway 11. It has been quite the comfort in tumultuous, big scary adult times.
So the deep [and particularly long-winded, I apologize] question of this Monday officially stands as this: can you cut out a normal, satisfying part of your routine without feeling completely deprived or unfulfilled? Ie, Can replace my after work cigarette session in front of the last bit of the news with say, a cup of hot tea or shot of vodka (kidding) be a smooth, craving-less transition?