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Your 2-year-old is having a temper tantrum because he wants a new toy. Would you;
Your 7-year-old is anxious about next weeks' Little League tryouts. Would you;
- Leave him alone until he calmed down
- Give into his demands
- Give him a tranquilizer
Your 14-year-old is crushed when she is not asked to the sophomore dance. Would you;
- Assure him that he can do it
- Practice with him and tell him to try his best
- Give him a valium every three hours until the game
Your 15-year-old is self-conscious about being 5 pounds overweight. Would you;
- Fix her up with one of your friend's children
- Tell her to go anyway
- Give her cocaine to pick up her spirits
- Cook lower calorie meals
- Enroll her in a diet or exercise program
- Put her on appetite suppressants
All of these young people are experiencing what adults would consider "growing pains." A little time, patience and positive reassuring will help them overcome all of these difficult situations.
The fact is, as long as anyone continues to develop physically, emotionally, intellectually, professionally or spiritually, they too will experience growing pains. Adults are prone to hurt, pain, sadness, depression and anxiety just as children are. These feelings are all necessary if we wish to continue to develop our minds and bodies. Without such growth, we would not experience happiness, satisfaction, contentment or purpose to their full extent.
The third choice in each of the above situations was, of course, ridiculous. We would not subject our children to chemical hazards to overcome such trivial problems. However, as adults we are fully capable of practicing such dangerous behaviors for our own relief. Take cigarette smoking as an example.
When you were still a smoker, how many times would you say you had to smoke because you were lonely and sad without your friendly cigarettes? How many times did you say that you had to smoke because of all the stress in your life? How many times did you tell yourself that many social activities were just not fun without your cigarettes? How many times did you say that you would gain too much weight if you quit smoking? All you were saying was that you needed nicotine, a drug, to overcome everyday life problems.
It was not until you were off cigarettes that you realized you could overcome such problems without smoking, and in most cases more effectively than when you were a smoker. Once you had quit you realized just how much a source of stress the habit was to you. You were caught by a socially unacceptable and physically deadly addiction and were quite often aware of it. This is when you had the desire to give them up, but thought the pain of quitting too great to even attempt it.
Even today, you probably still desire an occasional cigarette. It may be in a stressful situation, at a party after a few drinks, or at a time when you find yourself alone with nothing better to do. The fact is, there is nothing worse you can do than take a cigarette. One cigarette will not help you over the problem. In reality, it will create a new problem, a disastrous situation of a reinforced addiction, with all the physical dangers and associated dirty habits.
So, next time you have the desire for a cigarette, sit back and take a few moments to reflect upon what you are setting yourself up for. Do you need that drug? Do you want that addiction? If not, simply remember - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!
© Joel Spitzer 1982, 2000
Maybe I am different? Maybe I can take a cigarette and not get hooked? Maybe the cigarette will make me so sick I will never want to take a cigarette again? Maybe I was never addicted anyway? Maybe I will just smoke for a little while and quit again when things are better? Maybe, maybe, maybe . . .?
Do you ever find that you are asking yourself these questions? If so, and the suspense of the answer is just killing you, I thought I would suggest two ways of finally putting these unresolved questions to rest. First, take a cigarette. This is a real effective way of realizing the potential for relapse by reinforcement of the nicotine addiction. And the cost for this valuable lesson is simply returning to the deadly, expensive, socially unacceptable habit and addiction to cigarettes. You can then either smoke until it cripples and kills you, or "just" quit again. Remember the last time? Smoke or quit, fun choice isn't it?
Of course there is another way of answering those perplexing questions of "maybe". Find a smoker who once quit smoking for a substantial period of time, say one year or longer, and then relapsed. Ask him how he liked not smoking. Ask him how he now likes smoking. Then ask the most important question, how did he return to smoking?
Let me venture a guess as to the answers to these three questions. "Not smoking was great. I hardly thought of cigarettes any more. I felt healthier, happier, even calmer. Cigarettes smelled repulsive. The thought of smoking at my old level was disgusting." To the second question, how do you now like smoking, the response will typically be, "I hate it, I smoke as much or even more than I did before. I feel more nervous, don't have as much energy, and generally feel like a fool when smoking in public. I sure wish I could quit again." The answer to the third and most important question of how did he return to smoking is almost always the same, "I took a cigarette."
It may have happened under stress, at a party, or at home alone with nothing special going on. Whatever the cause, the end result was the same--addiction to nicotine. Prior to taking the cigarette, he probably asked himself the same questions of "maybe". He found his answer. Your answer is the same. Learn from others' mistakes and not your own. Your smoking friend is stuck in the grips of a powerful and deadly addiction. Maybe he will get the chance and strength again to quit smoking, maybe he will smoke until it kills him.
You have successfully broken free of the nicotine addiction. While your smoking may have been a potential threat to your life in the past, now your risks are dropping down to that of a person who never smoked. As long as you stay off of cigarettes, you never will have to worry about the physical, psychological, social and economical risks of smoking again as long as you follow one simple practice...NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!