It always starts with that first drag and that first sip. Before you know it, cigarettes and alcohol become part of whom and what you are. What prevents the guilt, shame and realization of what you are addicted to is largely thanks to your social circles. I mean, the truth is your parents, friends and colleagues all partake in it and this makes it okay. I thought to myself, this is why we hardly speak against religious fanaticism or corruption. It is because there is a majority indulging in it and THIS makes it alright.
But. There is always a big BUT. But there are consequences. And, to be honest, none of these consequences are positive. For a good 15 years I have been socially indulging in both cigarettes and alcohol. Since I do have this uncanny habit of observing things sometimes rather objectively without being too affected, I’ve noticed how both habits have had a detrimental effect on me. I’ve never been a “drunkard” or “chain smoker” in the classic sense but I was certainly heading that way. Now I don’t drink the hard stuff, I just stick to either red wine or beer where I have 2 or 3 glasses once per month. My aim is to quit it all completely. I have identified below 25 reasons why I am making an effort to quit.
- It ages you. I had a boss once who was 40 years old but looked 60. My father’s bridge friends all smoke and drink and look ancient like pharaohs. There is no way in hell I want to end up like that.
- It makes you poor. You do know that. Besides the fact that cigarette packs and alcohol is going up in price, you are addicted to it. So even if you are broke, you will hunt, steal or kill to feed your addiction.
- It will kill you. I want to live as long as I possibly can. I prefer to die in a natural fashion, not with me coughing up blood, my lungs, my kidneys and my liver.
- Your family will suffer. Count the number of times you have come home late, reeking of nicotine and alcohol. Count the number of times, you puked and passed out. Count the number of times you have let your parents, spouse and kids down. Is your addiction still worth it?
- You are making others rich. Every time you make a purchase, you just become poorer. This goes for any purchase of any product. But cigarettes and alcohol get you hooked. I’ll be damned if any company is going to make a buck off me and enjoys seeing me become a slave to what they sell.
- You forget. There have been days I have gone on an alcohol binges and have completely forgotten what I did a few days back. Trust me, this is beyond frightening.
- Your behavior is atrocious. I have been to numerous parties where the liquor was flowing. I have got drunk. I have said terrible things to people and, in short, made a fool of myself. And the embarrassment and shame of it will live with you for years.
- Your fitness suffers. I used to be a person who woke up at 4 a.m. to jog for 2 hours and then hit the gym for 1 hour. I used to tap dance, be an active participant of Kyokushin karate and practice Kandyan dancing. At the height of my drinking prowess, I could barely walk 1 kilometer. Now I am getting my mojo back. I work out daily for 1 hour and it feels amazing.
- Your appearance suffers. You do know that both smoking and drinking does affect your skin’s collagen, right? Well, it does. And, trust me; you will look 40 when you are just 25.
- Your testosterone declines. I am now seriously into fitness and gym. My aim is to get back to the athleticism that I enjoyed and reveled in when I was 23. Smoking and drinking affects your testosterone levels and this is anathema if you are into building muscle.
- It is addictive. When you are happy or sad, you always reach for a drag or a sip and that is not good. It is, in fact, a curse when all you can think about is smoking and drinking.
- You can lose friends/spouse. I lost friends on alcohol-fueled fights. I have lost family members who drank themselves to death. And you know what? It isn’t pretty.
- Your work performance suffers. Work is the reason I got into smoking and drinking and my work is what suffered. How did it suffer? I forgot appointments, I put in sick leave, I ignored my responsibilities and I lost my creativity.
- It alters your personality. Some people turn into raging bullies and some are riddled with irrational fears and worries. I gravitated between the two. My usual personality and character is one that is fun, cheerful, kind, sincere, generous and loyal. I like this personality and character. I think I’ll keep it.
- Your sex drive suffers. The truth is that these two addictions cause erectile dysfunction and they are two of the main reasons for causing infertility in males.
- It can lead to obesity. My height is 5 ft, 11 inches. At the zenith of my athletic prowess I was 69 kgs, with a 45” chest and 17.5” biceps. I was a hunk. Period. At the zenith of being a complete loser i.e. smoker and drinker I became 105 kgs with my waist reaching a mammoth 45”. The thing is, smoking and drinking leads to overeating and unhealthy cravings. I am now down to 87 kgs with a waist of 36”. I swear on all things holy, I will get back to my former hunk status the healthy way.
- It can lead to cancer and diabetes. I have uncles and aunts who have suffered from cancer and diabetes brought on by alcohol consumption. Both set of grandparents suffered from diabetes and no way am I planning on joining this club. And I know alcohol with its empty calories is something I should avoid.
- It can cause depression and anxiety. I remember the anxiety attacks, the lack of confidence, the urge to drink, the awful depression that set in when I was into smoking and drinking. I felt a zombie and I acted like one too.
- It can cause insomnia. In general, I am one person who loved sleeping. I still do. But once you are hooked onto these two habits, insomnia is what you have to deal with.
- It saps your energy. Ever drank and felt like you are half dead the next day? Bet you have. The fact is, alcohol dehydrates you and it affects your energy levels.
- The hangovers are awful. I have mixed drinks and puked so hard, I swear I have prayed to God to make me die. I hate it. I hate it with all of my being. Having gone through this time and time again, I asked myself – Why do you keep on doing this? No more.
- Giving up these two addictions means you are sure to give up bad friends. Here is another fact. The majority of people who are complete drunks and who smoke like there is no tomorrow are in debt, are social misfits, womanizers or perverts and half a dozen other adjectives. You don’t need them. Actually you should probably wear some talisman and run away from them. They got no ethics, morals or any integrity. What do you expect? They are addicts.
- I want to show the world that I can give it up. The measure of a man is not to give into weakness. Rather it is to stick to your beliefs and ethics and embrace them.
- It is all a lie. I know both addictions create this catastrophic lie that it can make you feel special, can relieve stress or help you become more acceptable to others. Who are you fooling?
- The next step would be drugs. How many other smokers and boozers do you know who have moved onto the next level, which is cocaine and heroin? This is the natural progression with such addictions. So I plan on quitting while I can.
What you need to remember is that there are so many addictions out there. Some are good and some are downright nasty. I do blame the whole advertising machine for churning out fabulous lies in order to sell their products. But, like in any democratic society, we have a right to choose our own heaven or hell. I have been up and down thanks to cigarettes and alcohol. All I can say is there are so many positive activities like indulging in sports, dancing, yoga, chess or hiking that can offer you so much more in terms of relieving stress, making new friends and feeling good about yourself. Any addiction is hard to fight. But for me, fighting an addiction such as this is choosing life.