If asked to recall that first cigarette most would describe the feeling as very unpleasant. Similarly, that first beer would not have tasted good, the first drunk even worse. What may begin as a childhood effort to “fit in,” to appear “grown up” for some turns into a lifetime of self-harm which we convince ourselves is “fun” and/or “necessary” to feel “normal”!
Addict behavior is the choice of intentional self-harm. It impacts our entire life, from health to life expectancy, sexual functioning and even to make and keep a meaningful relationship. Who is not aware that cigarettes and alcohol are hazardous to health? But since the impact on health is so gradual we hardly notice, until the damage we have caused ourselves is visible in the mirror and in physical discomfort.
But there is also such immediate costs in the money spent to “feed the habit.” At today’s prices, even a single pack of cigarettes per day will set the smoker back close to $2000.00 per year. Regarding alcohol, prescription and street drugs of abuse the costs are likely much higher. And this does not take into account legal costs and consequences involved in getting caught for DUI, or possession of other drugs of abuse.
David Turner, LCSW has worked with addicts for more than twenty years. He received The 1996 Governor’s Award for Anti-drug Efforts in Treatment.