What constitutes bottoming out can obviously be different for each of us. In my mind, it is exactly where I was back in April 1999, after one last failed attempt when I openly swore before God that I would never, ever put myself through withdrawal again. It was then that I at last fully accepted the reality that I was a true drug addict in every sense, that I wasn't stronger than nicotine, that I would die a smoker's death. After thirty years of assaulting this body, I figured it would probably happen sooner than later as my health was going downhill, and rather quickly.
Increasing tolerance (receptor count up-regulation) having slowly transformed me into a heavy smoker, there was just too much carbon monoxide and nicotine circulating and not enough oxygen. My teeth were beginning to die and I found myself undergoing root canal after root canal. My eyes were paying a price, I lived with chronic bronchitis, and I often wondered if others could hear the constant wheeze with every breath. I had full blown pneumonia two winters in a row, but still somehow managed to **** down a couple of smokes.
With 3,500 chemical particles and more than 500 gases in each puff, including 43 known cancer causing chemicals, I guess the only remaining question was which death suitor would come calling. Would some vital body part suffocate after the blood vessel leading to it became completely clogged due to nicotine released fats sticking to carbon monoxide damaged vessel walls? Would one of the carcinogen time bombs that grew a bit bigger with each puff at last detonate? Would I live long enough to see what the doctor called "early emphysema" put me on full time oxygen, the way it did mom at age 61?
Looking back, I lived the sick rationalization that Joel shares here, that if the price of addiction became large enough, that the addict's resolve to end their own self mutilation might actually grow bigger than the false beliefs being fed them by their chemically captive limbic brain.
Although for three decades my conscious thinking mind had tried to break free from nicotine's grip, it did so in a state of dependency ignorance and darkness. It had zero understanding that drug addiction is about living a lie. These beautiful brains of ours were engineered to make species survival events our #1 priority (accomplishment, gathering, food, water, group bonding, courting, reproduction, nurturing).
But there are some external chemicals that so resemble the shape of our own neuro-chemicals that once inside the brain they fit the locks (receptors) that activate these survival priority teaching pathways. Quickly, often after using nicotine only a couple of times, our own mind begins teaching us that smoking or chewing nicotine is at least as important as eating.
Soon we're forced to believe that using nicotine defines who were are, gives us our edge, helps us cope and that life without it may not be worth living. Any attempt to stop using may briefly be seen by our deep inner mind as akin to attempting to starve ourselves to death.
Yes, our chemically captive pathways correctly did their designed function but not in response to genetic pre-programming but in response to the presence of an external chemical. Those pathways would now command compliance by generating urges and craves to replenish constantly falling blood serum nicotine levels, that decline by half every two hours. They would issue dopamine "aaah" rewards sensations for anticipating and engaging in the act of nicotine replenishment. They would record the entire drug use event in high definition, 3-D type memories that are nearly impossible, in the short term, to forget.
Yes, a true chemical addition is born. Welcome to the world of nicotine normal where nearly all remaining memory of the beauty of life without nicotine was quickly buried under the most potent memories appears capable of generating. Yes, drug addition is about living a lie.
Ask yourself this, what was it like to reside inside your mind before nicotine took control? What was it like to go days, weeks and months and never once think about wanting to put a new supply of nicotine into your bloodstream? What was it like without the daily addiction chatter associated with trying to comply with a never-ending series of commands to smoke more nicotine? What was it like to not be addicted to a powerful central nervous system stimulant, to not have nicotine causing your heart to pound twenty beats per minute faster? What was it like to be able to fully relax your body and mind, all day long? Is coming home to the real you good or bad?
We never once took a puff off of any cigarette that didn't further damage our respiratory and circulatory systems. We each started with nearly 600 million air sacks and, collectively, the toxins in each puff have destroyed more. We can wait until we are told that we have too few still functional air sacks to complete this life and we'll need oxygen, or we can stop their slaughter now.
We cannot bring back to life cells we have already destroyed but every living cell not destroyed will benefit by not being assaulted by tobacco toxins. Knowledge truly is a quitting method. What do you have to lose by more fully understanding the chemical that keeps your brain's priorities teacher its hostage? Millions of words here in Freedom's hundreds of thousands of member posts but just abiding principle determining the outcome for all ... no nicotine today, Never Take Another Puff, Dip or Chew!
John (Gold x8)