Addiction is never a good thing although I supposed being “addicted” to exercise or some other positive thing is, well, positive. But I don’t think those things are real addictions and are more like well-established habits. I’ve almost gotten to the point where I require a mug of chamomile tea before bed, but saying I’m addicted to tea is totally bullshit and missing the point of what an addiction is. I always brush before work and bed, but once again this isn’t an addiction, just a happy little habit I have that is actually good for me.
Over the past three months I’ve turned into a raging nicotine addict. I should give some back story first because I don’t think no one accidentally becomes a nicotine addict just because. They don’t do it on purpose. There’s always some driving force behind it.
I started smoking when I was around 20 and did it for about five years. I quit, and it was a terrible learning experience because nicotine is stupidly addictive. Anyone who says smoking or vaping is a habit is totally ignorant of the addictive power of chemicals, especially nicotine. Everyone is different, but the havoc nicotine withdrawal wreaked on my mood led to some of worst feelings I’ve ever had. After not having a cigarette for a few hours my mood would plummet into depression, despair, and near suicidal thoughts. I’m not embellishing this either. In one of these states about three or four hours into cold-turkeying my way to being free from nicotine, my mood was total shit. I felt like crying. I felt so hopeless and lost and “strange” that I just couldn’t take it anymore. I took a few drags from a cig and instantly, instantly, felt better. It was obviously nicotine withdrawal. It made me realize that quitting nicotine wasn’t going to be easy. It required a well-thought out plan and fortitude.
Anyways, I eventually quit. But the thing with any addiction seems to be how it lingers with you forever. Before I smoked I had zero urge to smoke, but after I quit smoking there was still some subtle urge to have another cigarette. The cravings never really went away but over time they became so small and harmless that I was able to ignore them completely. Yeah, sometimes I did want a cigarette but it wasn’t needing a cigarette. Especially when drinking or having conversations I found myself thinking that I’d really enjoy a cigarette right now. Then I’d wave the feeling away.
Until about eight months ago that was. It was about the time of this post I think: totally drunken, hungover, and constantly miserable I awoke one Monday completely filled with anxiety, dread, and fear for the upcoming work week. I was hungover, terribly so, and one thing I knew that would instantly cure my state was a cigarette. Just one. Just one to puff on for about ten minutes, get the headrush and calming effect of it, and I’d be able to deal with the day. I bought a pack on my way to work, stood outside my car, smoked, and thought about life. It was like a little meditative break for myself and it was wonderful. Over a week or so this habit — and it was a real habit at the time — was to smoke a single cigarette outside my car before work every work day. Just one damn cigarette a day to collect my thoughts before work. And it was amazing. I continued on this “plan” for about four of five months perfectly. I’d have minor cravings during the weekends but nothing that wasn’t able to be easily dealt with.
Until about November. Once again, I’m a UPS employee and the holiday season is a collective hell for anyone associated with the company. Being shifted to different crews, meeting new people, having your daily work routine utterly fucked with. As someone who loves knowing the future and having a routine this is anxiety inducing to an insane degree. Double shifting and being awake and at work hours earlier than usual. Late nights with broken planes and dealing with any and all of the bullshit UPS tosses at its workers during the holidays. Given this stressful situation it was no surprise that the one-cigarette-per-day-before-work plan eventually grew into a two-a-day plan. I was working two shifts and a cigarette before each shift was the logical and natural progression. And then this turned into a third cigarette after work to “unwind.”
Truthfully, three per day isn’t bad at all. Sure it’s not good health-wise but it’s also not as bad as smoking a pack a day. And how about the cost of it? Still not too bad. I was smoking Marlboro Reds (because as I was reasoned with, if I was only smoking one cigarette a day, why wouldn’t I smoke something pricy and enjoyable instead of shitty off-brand smokes?), which cost about $10 a pack (Yikes! Back in the day a pack was only about $5.), and three per day meant that a pack would last a little over a week. $10 a week is fucking nothing; I was spending more than that on my constant fast-food diet trying to survive the peak season to the best of my ability and this was probably worse for my health than the cigs were. Also consider the fact that all the overtime I was earning was making my checks totally fat. I was grossing over $1,000 per week, so was an extra $10 weekly expense going to hurt me? Fuck no. It was well worth the price for something to aid me through the holidays. I also attribute my nicotine plan for not blatantly descending into alcoholism during November/December which I had done the previous year.
The whole nicotine addiction really became a thing with vaping. Yes, vaping. Everyone on my crew vaped, and they still do. We’re all a bunch of fucking raging nicotine addicts on our shift, with zero hesitation or shame to the fact. I wasn’t vaping at the time but was occasionally offered to try their vapes, which I obviously did. Smooth and varied flavors, heavy-hitting nicotine content, all without the stigma and ease of not needing to go to a smoke area to get your fix.
Once again, not a problem, until one day between shifts everyone was going to the local vape store, Marco’s Vapor. You might remember this post where nearly every vehicle I had was totally fucked and I was driving an uninsured Saturn to work without an exhaust. My coworkers asked me to tag along to Marco’s, which I politely declined, until one said something like, “Okay, no peer pressure or anything, but just get the fuck in the car; you’re going.”
So I got in the car. What else did I have to do? Drive the loud, roaring Saturn to the local McDonalds, scream into the speaker, and shove shitty food in my mouth in a parking lot? At least I could hang out with some friends.
The store was a very chill and laid-back place with a very casual atmosphere. They bought their stuff over the course of twenty minutes while they asked what exactly I was going to buy. “Nothing,” I said. I prefered to not make spontaneous purchases, but my coworkers were getting new vapes and juice for only $60. Hmm. I could have my own vape, my own portable and accessible source of nicotine, and not have to worry about the relatively minor withdrawals that occured anymore. Hmm. But I knew if I bought one it would be a full-send for a second nicotine addiction; there was no way to moderate vaping. Once again, pleasant smelling, no fire or burning material, no hideous smell on your clothes that you have to hide from your family. No bulky packs of cigs or worrying about where your lighter is. No trips to shady gas stations at inopportune times. And no way to stick to a stilly “one cigarette before work” plan because how would you even measure it?
So I bought one. Yeehaw. Here we go. I also bought the strongest nicotine juice amount sold: Big Dick 50 Nic. 50 mg/ml. Heavy-hitting shit. Instant dizziness, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath after you take a hit. If you take a few hits, you get nauseous. It was almost like mild nicotine poisoning with every pull from my new vape.
And here I am two months later ripping on my vape every few minutes. It almost never leaves my right hand. I love vaping while typing. I love vaping while sitting on the couch doing nothing. I love scrolling my phone and vaping. I basically love vaping nonstop no matter what I’m doing. It’s my go-to little buddy. And I seriously have no regrets.
In a way I find a nicotine addiction oddly satisfying and comforting. I don’t get the headrushes or buzzes like I used to, but it gives me a form of comfort that is ever-present that I can always look forward to. If I have some anxiety about something, rip the vape. If I feel tired, sleepy, and miserable, hit the vape. If I’m listening to music and feeling reflective and introspective: vape. Anything that goes wrong, ruins my mood, or stresses me out, the vape is always there to comfort me. If you go long enough without having your nicotine and find yourself on-edge, such as waking up in the morning, hit the damn vape. The nicotine really kick-starts your day just like a cup of coffee. And coffee with nicotine? WOW!
I know I’m just limping off an addiction here, but I don’t really care. Nicotine is a strange drug that you can actually limp off of with no real side effects emotionally. It reminds me of coffee: you wake up and have like five cups of coffee and you’re good to go. It doesn’t ruin your mood or make you totally anxious and depressive like drinking does. And prescription medication? Opioids? Those are well-known to be the worst long-term addictions you can ever have. For some reason nicotine is pretty chill where my life can continue on nearly unaffected, and in some ways even easier, than before I was addicted. I sounds really wrong to say that I enjoy being totally and hopelessly addicted to something, but as far as I’m aware, that’s perfectly how I feel.
This post was originally supposed to be about the benefits of vaping over cigarettes, but kinda turned into a long introduction/story of my nicotine addiction itself. Oh well, next post, right?