Sobriety Blows: Quitting Smoking and DrinkingPosted: May 30, 2012
Withdrawal is a bitch. I live in a constant miasmic haze. I can’t seem to concentrate on anything as if my brain was surrounded by storm clouds. Strange phlegm emerges from the recesses from my body. My throat constantly itches. I want to punch my neighbor in the face. A cigarette and a drink would solve all at this moment. Except that it won’t.
The strange fact of my existence—and maybe human existence in general— is that I am drawn to immediate pleasure despite long-term consequences. Smoking and drinking happen to be on the top of that list. Lung cancer and emphysema seem so abstract and far away when the pleasure of a drag is so immediate and satisfying. A tired, hungover tomorrow seem worth it when the spiced-taste of Kentucky bourbon is at my lips.
But for the past three days I have to tried to live differently. The great psychiatrist and holocaust survivor Victor Frankl once said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Quitting all your vices makes you unusually aware of all the stimulus that trigger your cravings. Having a stressful day? A cigarette will calm you down. And maybe a few drinks after work will help your forget it. Except I have lived that way for too long, chasing after an ever-moving phantom. The toughest part of quitting has not been the withdrawal, although that sucks too, it’s constantly having to say “no” to my thoughts. It’s constantly having to respond instead of reacting to my unconscious urges…
A few things have helped these past few days. Texting my friend Dave, who is quitting as well, whenever I feel an urge has helped. Staying away from non-smokers has also been key. Eating sour gummy worms and sunflower seeds constantly have been a life saver. And zazen meditation might be the most helpful tool of them all, as it forces me to see all my cravings head on.
I don’t know how long all this will last. Cigarettes and drinking have been my primary coping mechanisms for so long. Without them, I feel weak and anxious. I am without any crutches for the first time in a long. The goal is August 1st before I start drinking again. If I can make I there, it may very well be the hardest thing I have ever done.