Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Guest June Shaw: On Overcoming Addictions

Today my guest is author June Shaw. Although she writes humorous mysteries, today she's chosen a more serious topic. But then, humor often comes out of the dark side, doesn't it?

Overcoming an Addicition

Can it be done?

Can anyone get rid of a habit that feels overwhelming, that continues to pull the user toward the thrill of an unhealthy product or experience?

I believe that with help, most people can overcome addictions, although they may fail the first time they try. Or the second time. And possibly the fifth.

The first method a user tries might fail. The fourth could work. If so, was trying a waste of time?

Absolutely not. We normally use an item or repeat an experience many times before we find ourselves addicted.

That’s what happened to me.

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It took many attempts for me as a young teen to learn to smoke a cigarette without coughing like crazy, yet I kept trying with my friends until I achieved the desired results. I became hooked.

Many years later, I started coughing a bit from smoking again. I knew it was way past time to quit.

I did it—and I’m thrilled!

But I did not do it alone or the first time I tried. Or after the second attempt or the fourth.

Years earlier, I had told myself smoking was unhealthy and costly but found going cold turkey or using a patch or a pill not helpful enough. How easy it was to say I couldn’t quit. I was addicted to nicotine, and that was that.

In my book Killer Cousins, the main character trips over a body in the yard of her cousins, who swears she doesn’t know the dead man, although he’s a member of her stop-smoking group. He died on the day her group chose to give up cigarettes.

I, and many others, know that on the day a smoker decides to quit, anybody around us could wind up choked. We become vile creatures, ready to act out with anyone who happens to be in the vicinity of the vicious nature we take on when we are without our beloved, deadly nicotine.

In the Acknowledgment of my book, I thank many people, including a hypnotist who became a friend after she hypnotized my daughter and me to help us stop smoking. We both did—for a few weeks. I also thank a nurse friend at our local hospital for putting on stop-smoking sessions. We were in her groups twice. Both times we quit for a month or two. I thank the doctor and pharmacist who gave me so much information about different stop-smoking products. My daughter and I tried some over the counter and some with prescriptions.

They worked! Not the first time we tried to quit and not with the first product. But altogether we learned and kept trying.

We practiced quitting—just like we’d practiced starting.

Now both of us have quit for good. We’ve been smoke free for over five years!

Millions of people watched Oprah go through the same experience with eating and weight gain. A person might not stay with a weight-loss and exercise program forever, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work. Many of our young people have struggled with addictions to legal and illegal drugs, and with help, huge numbers overcome their dependence on harmful substances. My middle son did. Marijuana became his drug of choice. He achieved much success as a young man, but his hard-fought success in avoiding drugs remains most important to him and me. Family, friends, and professionals had to help.

Most people can become addicted to a thing or person or practice that is harmful to them. The lucky ones turn to others for assistance to overcome their addiction. The truly fortunate individuals have others give them help, even if it means going through many trials before total success is achieved. Overcoming our harmful ways will always make us stronger people.

You can find out more about June Shaw and her humorous mysteries at www.juneshaw.com.


housemouse88 said...

Hello June,

It has been almost a year and half since I quit smoking. I can honestly say I still crave them. I do my best to stay away from smokers and I even stopped watching tv for a while. Because every time I saw someone light up, I'd have this craving come over me.

The thing that gets me is the smell. I'm still working on getting the smell out of my house. Good luck to all those people on their journey with addiction. Have a great day.

Terry Odell said...

Hi, housemouse. Hubby and I have been catching up on classic old movies on Netflix, and the smoking was something we both commented on. Everyone smoked. All the time.

I never could get into that habit, thank goodness. My dad once gave me his cigarette butt and asked me to put it in an ashtray for him. The stink on my hands turned me totally off smoking.

To this day, I'm so sensitive, I think I can tell when someone lights up at the opposite end of a huge convention center! My eyes water and my nose stuffs up.

June Shaw said...

Hi, Housemouse,

I know what you're going through. That craving will go away. Try not to watch people lighting up if you're still tempted. And yes, the smell is difficult to remove from a house. But how great it is that you removed it from your body!

Hang it there. Remain a non-smoker. It's the best thing you can do for your loved ones.