Guinevere Gets Sober

Recovery news, reviews and stories, by Jennifer Matesa.

Tag: nicotine (page 1 of 2)

Sayings From the Rooms: Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

They say,

Nothing changes
nothing changes

Another way of saying this is another thing they say:

If you do what you always did,
you’ll get what you always got

A lot of us wrestle with habits other than “drugs” or “alcohol.” We eat sugar. We shop online. We have sex. We smoke. We don’t think these are problems until we bump  into walls.

Lots of people don’t think smoking is drug-use. It’s been well established, ever since Jeffrey Wigand testified against Big Tobacco, that cigarettes are nicotine-delivery devices scientifically crafted to maximize the effects of nicotine on the neurological system. Nicotine is an addictive drug.

I was at a meeting the other night where a friend of mine was talking about how she gave up smoking. She’d quit drinking and gotten sober and had changed her life, she said, and saved her cigs for the times when she really needed to control her “stress.” … I’ve heard so many people with addiction talk about how kicking nicotine was harder than quitting heroin or booze. My friend said she’d never thought that her smoking was a problem until her kid piped up one day:

Oh, look, Mommy! There’s the cigarettes you smoke when you’re mad!

She gave up cigarettes after that.

SugarThis made me think about the times I eat sugar. I eat it when I’m upset. I eat it habitually. I eat it because I’ve always eaten it. I eat it because it’s what I do. … It makes me feel good for a while, it comforts me, then it makes me tired; it gives me headaches. It makes me sad: classic sugar-crash. I could give you a technical rundown on what happens with the insulin overload, but it would be boring.

I have to give up sugar.

It’s the last thing.

It would be cool not to be a slave to anything anymore.

It would also be cool to eat real food. Not to hunt through the cupboards for “fun” trash all the time. It would require me to plan meals, to balance my life so that I pay attention to what I eat.

Mindfulness practice—meditation—brought me here… I’ll write about that next time.

How smoking reduces your lifespan—an interactive tool

Found this tool that calculates how much smoking will reduce your lifespan.

Smoking man

A smoker getting his dose.

I love interactive tools. They’re like toys. I tested it out on my mother’s smoking history and it was accurate… She lost about 20 years, and that’s about right.

See below for a set of facts about the benefits that immediately start accruing when you stop smoking.

For all the drugs I’ve bought legally over counters and ingested, I’m glad I’ve somehow escaped nicotine. The consequences are just so damaging.

An interesting read for those who want to quit: Glassbottom’s quit-smoking journal on Opiate Detox Recovery, one of my favorite recovery sites. On the first page of this journal the author, Glassbottom, says of a previous time having quit,

For me, quitting cigs changed my entire perception of time. This was frankly the most enjoyable byproduct of quitting. I hadn’t realized that every activity, every commitment, every damn thing that I did during my day was some how couched in the thought of “when is my next cigarette” If I was writing a paper for school, “How many pages till I go smoke a cigarette.” If I was watching a movie that I enjoyed, “When will this movie be over so I can go smoke a cigarette.” When it was time to eat, “I can’t wait till I’m done so I can smoke a cigarette.” … When we smoke a pack a day, that’s 20 cigarettes. Essentially we don’t go for much longer than a half an hour without a smoke. If two packs, then 15 minutes. Now consider how much of that half hour/fifteen minutes of non smoking time that the thought of the next cigarette crosses our minds. Yep, it’s an obsession.

This gave me insight into my mother’s addiction. Glassbottom wrote that the pride of quitting smoking was “just as great as dope in many ways,” though he said that, for him, opioids were “way harder to deal with” than nicotine. But knowing my mother, I don’t think it was that way for her, and I think it may not be for some others. Nicotine can truly be a “drug of choice”—or, as some on ODR might say, a “drug of no-choice.”

What happens when you quit smoking

(Source: Cleveland Clinic)

After 20 minutes

You stop polluting the air
Your blood pressure and pulse decrease
The temperature of your hands and feet increases

After 8 hours
The carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal
Oxygen levels in your blood increase

After 24 hours
Your risk of heart attack decreases

After 48 hours
Nerve endings adjust to the absence of nicotine
Your ability to taste and smell begins to return

After 2 weeks to 3 months
Your circulation improves
Your exercise tolerance improves

After 1 to 9 months
Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease
Your overall energy level increases

After 1 year
Your risk of heart disease decreases to half that of a current smoker

After 5 to 15 years
Your risk of stroke is reduced to that of people who have never smoked

After 10 years
Your risk of dying from lung cancer drops to almost the same rate as a lifelong NON-smoker.
You decrease the incidence of other cancers – of the mouth, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas

After 15 years
Your risk of heart disease is reduced to that of people who have never smoked

Researchers say: Quit smoking and relieve your stress levels

Smokers take “cigarette breaks” throughout the day to calm their nerves and ease their anxiety, but a new study just published online at the journal Addiction says that quitting smoking is the better way to cut stress.

Researchers studied 469 smokers who wanted to quit after they were hospitalized for heart attack or bypass surgery. They discovered that, at a one-year follow-up, the patients who had stayed quit said they felt a lot less stressed, while the ones who were still smoking scored as high on stress tests as they did at the start.

Basically what’s happening when people get addicted to nicotine, the researchers found, is that smokers put themselves through as many nicotine withdrawals per day as cigarettes they smoke. A smoker with a pack-a-day habit puts herself through 20 of these events; a person who smokes two packs per day doubles her stress level.

They also found that

smoking seems to precede more often than follow the onset of mental health problems.

Secondhand smoke may cause mental illness

Remember how the other day we saw a story about how cigarette smoking might cause depression? Now it turns out that researchers in London have figured out that “exposure to secondhand smoke is associated with psychological distress and risk of future psychiatric illness in healthy adults.”

Their study appears in this month’s Archives of General Psychiatry.

I find this fascinating, as the child of two smokers, one a chain-smoker who refused to roll the windows down when she smoked in the car. … Little story here: There’s a whole bunch of data to suggest that babies born to women who smoke throughout pregnancy are at risk of low birthweight. I was born at just over six pounds, six-two to be exact, and as all babies drop weight, I dropped below that after birth. At eight weeks old, tiny little baby, I came down with pneumonia, and I nearly died.

My mother always attributed the pneumonia to “someone with a virus who wanted to hold the baby.”

It only recently dawned on me that the secondhand smoke in a house with the windows closed (I was born at Halloween) could have been the bigger problem, huh? Or at least a complication. Denial—dayam.

If you smoke, please quit!

Nicotine addiction kills 5 million worldwide per year

Many people don’t think of smoking tobacco as a “real” addiction.

Take a look at these stats from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Drug Report executive summary:

[T]he consumption of tobacco, an addictive, psychoactive drug that is sold widely in open, albeit regulated markets, affects as much as 25% of the world adult population. . . . [M]ortality statistics show that illicit drugs take a small fraction of the lives claimed by tobacco (about 200,000 a year for illicit drugs versus about 5 million a year for tobacco).

Amazing. Tobacco kills 5 million people worldwide per year. How can anyone think of it as not a “real” addiction?

I don’t agree with the War On Drugs… But if we’re going to have a war on drugs, why don’t we pick the right drug to fight?

If you smoke, please save your life and quit.

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