Tag Archives: Withdrawal

Nicotine Addiction Sucks (Naw, Not Really)

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?

Quitting Drinking Sucks

I think I’ve realized that I’m what people call a “High-Functioning Alcoholic” meaning that even if I drink quite a bit more than is healthy/good/normal I don’t exhibit any of the “classic signs” of being an alcoholic. I don’t miss work. I don’t drink and drive. I don’t gamble or blow unusual amounts of money when drunk and I don’t beat the shit out of my family. But by being this type of person you get sucked into the mindset that you don’t have a problem when you probably do. Since there is nothing to really gain by maybe, possibly being an alcoholic I think I’m going to attempt to stop drinking. Again.

That’s right: Again. I gave it a decent shot a few months ago and failed miserably. I made it two weeks sober and just totally fell off the wagon (or got on the wagon?) You might think that two weeks sober is pretty good, and while I suppose it is, it apparently means you’re not out of the woods yet. Upon reaching two weeks sober I realized that shit was beginning to get very very difficult. Let me digress for a moment…

I used to smoke cigarettes and nicotine, the addictive ingredient in cigarettes, is one of the stupidestly addictive substances known to man. Like it’s right up there with heroin in case you didn’t know. I smoked for about five years and tried to quit countless times and met failure each of those times, except for the last of course. Because I did quit smoking! I told myself when I was free from nicotine to never get addicted ever again because it was such a bitch to quit. I just never wanted to have to quit smoking ever again.

It’s common knowledge that quitting smoking is hardest in the first week; if you make it a week without smoking you’re good to go. I found this to be not precisely true as you still crave nicotine even after a week. In fact the urge never seems to totally go away; the cravings just sort of tend towards zero after a long time. But I would say after two weeks of not smoking I felt pretty decent and not at risk of smoking again. The hardest time occurs during the first few days though. Upon trying to quit cold turkey I found I became suicidal within the first six hours. It was no joke how nicotine (or the lack of) fucks with your mind. I know it was nicotine withdrawal causing my mental havoc because upon smoking a single cigarette my suicidal thoughts magically disappeared. My point here is that nicotine withdrawal peaks really fucking fast and is really shitty. With nicotine I found I needed to slowly “wean” myself off them because cold turkey just didn’t work at all for me.

Here. I made a rough chart showing how miserable I felt when I quit smoking. As you can see your misery peaks in a day or two and then slowly subsides to a low level by a week.

A scientific chart on how awful you feel when you quit smoking.

Since I quit smoking — which is one of the most ridiculous and addictive things ever — drinking should be easy to quit! Right? After all I never drank as much as a “real” alcoholic would; I wasn’t drinking daily for years upon years. Even if there were scary withdrawal symptoms (alcohol is one of the few substances that you can die from during withdrawal) I was confident that I wouldn’t suffer the worst of them like DTs or those fucking “pink elephant” hallucinations from the Looney Tunes cartoons. Like I wouldn’t end up hospitalized or anything so I have that going for me.

One thing that should’ve tipped me off that not drinking wouldn’t be that easy — even without any serious medical issues to worry about — is realizing how I can easily go a few days without drinking and that cravings really only happen on the third or fourth day. I assume I had this “nicotine withdrawal” mentality going on where I thought if you made it day or two without drinking you instantly win against alcohol, which is obviously easy to do. This is not the case.

I made it about a week and a half before I really started to know something was going on. I began to feel tired and exhausted all the time. I would sleep nearly 10 or 12 hours, drink three cups of coffee, and still be tired. I also started to feel like I was “fake” and in a dream for large parts of my day where I would blink and sort of be surprised at the fact that I existed or something. My mood noticeably degraded where I came close to snapping on a few of my coworkers. These coworkers are perpetually aggravating but somehow being sober brought my frustration front and center and almost allowed it to boil over. I was agitated, depressed, tired, and didn’t even want to eat. I’d come home from work and go to bed and just want to be left alone with the lights off. And everyday that passed made it worse.

Like this!

You’re told that when you quit drinking that things are going to get better so a descent into depression, lethargy, and misery is shocking. You can power through the tough times here and there, but it seemed like the bad feelings just kept piling up without any reason or way out of feeling like shit. It felt like walking into a dark cave where there is supposed to be an exit in front of you but the further you walk the darker it gets and the exit seems like a made-up lie. Every day would seem worse than the day before, and eventually I wanted to drink again not to be drunk but just to feel like a normal person again.

So I made it two weeks and broke down just because I felt like I was going insane or losing my identity. As what happened with my nicotine-withdrawal-induced-insanity, upon having the drug you’re craving you instantly feel better. After one beer I felt calm, mellow, and like myself again.

Here’s my nicotine chart slightly tweaked for drinking. The dotted line is what I think will happen if I make it past two weeks. As you can see the time period here is about seven times longer: if you flip out without smoking in a day or two you will probably flip out by not drinking between the first and the second week. This also makes me think the comedown period will also be a ton longer, like on the order of a few months.

I guess I left the “legend” on the side?

This is obviously some shit. Nicotine gives you a fucking quick battle with misery that starts and ends relatively quickly while alcohol seems to drag on forever. A huge downside to this is that there’s just more time for something stressful to happen to kick you back down again. If you stop smoking you can pretty easily pick a span of a week or two when nothing stressful should happen but how do you ensure that you have a span of three months without stress to stop drinking? Alcohol is a pain-in-the-ass to stop using, and I have a newfound appreciation for anyone who has become an alcoholic, realized they are an alcoholic, and made the effort to stop drinking. It’s apparently hard as hell to do so congrats to any and all of you who’ve succeeded. Stopping drinking fucking sucks.

Update: I wrote this about a week ago as a way to sort of write about my problems and not drink. I knew it would be frustrating to stop again so venting helped get my spirits up quite a bit. I’m now on my 11 or 12th day sober and it still fucking sucks, but the key it seems is to not think about things too much and to keep fucking busy with whatever you can find.