My name is Colleen K. and I am a nicotine addict. Recently, I was informed that I am not allowed to smoke in my home or anywhere on the premises. Sure enough, it’s right there in my lease. Oh. Okay. Then I’ll stop smoking. Uh-huh.
Smoking is not a habit like biting one’s fingernails. It’s a habit like using heroin or cocaine is a habit.
According to the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse, smoking not only results in nicotine addiction but also decreases monoamine oxidase (MAO). MAO breaks down dopamine, a “feel good” chemical in the brain. So smokers experience heightened levels of dopamine and “feel good” every time they smoke. Unfortunately, the effects wear off quickly so smokers need frequent “fixes.”
If I were addicted to alcohol or narcotics (other than nicotine), there’d be 30-day detox programs that I could check myself into within minutes of making a call. If I were an alcoholic, I wouldn’t be required to get a “fix” at least 25 feet from the door of a restaurant. In fact, I could go right in, sit right down, order my fix from the waiter, and enjoy it right there at the table.
Some of you may say that’s different because you aren’t affected by secondhand drinking. I’m sure there are families all across the country who would disagree. They’ve lost loved ones because someone got a liquid fix and then got behind the wheel of a car.
It seems the alcoholic beverage lobby is much stronger than the tobacco lobby. I’m not suggesting we return to the days of prohibition. Obviously, that did not stop the country from drinking, it just established a large crime base to get us our booze.
I also would agree that smoking is bad for me and those around me. I recently found a stop smoking program that makes sense. Dr. Oz’s program requires me to walk (something I’m already doing) and take prescribed Wellbutrin to increase dopamine levels and use nicotine patches. I’m talking to my doctor to get the prescriptions for both. It’s a six-month program. I think I can do this.