Celebrating 17 Years of Sobriety | #MyFridayStory №272

Elias Tigiser | Pexels

There are a handful of achievements you should be allowed to boast about.

Things like significant educational milestones and beating a chronic illness or getting control of depression. Becoming a parent or grandparent must feature somewhere too — else I’ve been a braggart for many years. You should be allowed to boast about being a helicopter pilot or a social worker. Being employed is like a status symbol in South Africa today — you wear it like a badge. I digress.

It’s rare to find people able to boast about beating alcoholism or addiction. Many purists believe you never beat the illness. That you always carry the threat of relapsing. I differ with that theory, only because I know I will never relapse. I can’t be tripped up. The best way to explain it is to use the example of nicotine addiction. Many people suffer from this disease and society has made it okay. Understanding why people smoke tobacco products helps to expose how addiction works.

“From a scientific standpoint, nicotine is as hard, or harder, to quit than heroin. But people don’t recognise that,” said Dr Neil Benowitz, a nicotine researcher at the University of California. Interesting stuff, nicotine. Many textbooks and data show that less than 60 mg of pure nicotine can kill an adult human. Nicotine is as addictive as heroin — only, its ‘half-life’ is much shorter. A chemical or substance’s half-life is measured by how long the drug remains active in your body.

Benowitz “Every drug of abuse, including nicotine, releases dopamine, which makes it pleasurable to use,” said. “And when you stop smoking, you have a deficiency of dopamine release, which causes a state of dysphoria: you feel anxious or depressed.” All this happens to every tobacco smoker that has ever picked up the habit. Most, almost all, folks that quit smoking for any length of time will tell you how difficult it is.

Now, none of this would make any sense to someone that never picked up a cigarette in their life. They have never experienced any of the desire, attraction or sheer desperation for the puff of a ciggie. When I smoked cigarettes, I used to say:

If they were honest with themselves, most seasoned smokers would tell you they wish they never took that first drag. A non-smoker has no idea how powerful a drug like nicotine can be. For them, you could offer them a cigarette, or a puff, and they would not feel in the least bit tempted to partake. That’s because they don’t have the disease. They are not addicts.

I will never take another drink again because I am a non-drinker. Like a non-smoker can’t be tempted, as a non-drinker I like to say:

My stay in rehab started on Family Day in 2005, through New Year and came out 28 days later in 2006. I met around 45 other sick folks during my stay. As people came and left, I had a few roommates. My last roomie and I would both read our Bible at night and pray together. We have stayed in touch over the years and still call each other this time of the year to say:

We made it another year!

Especially at this time of the year let’s not forget those that need encouragement and support. To anyone suffering from addiction, alcoholism, depression, chronic illnesses or any other illness, seen or unseen, may you find strength and courage to stay the course.

Regardless of whether you are a helicopter pilot or a nurse, I wish you a peaceful and blessed Christmas. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, may this time of year bring you and your loved one’s joy and happiness.

Have an awesome Christmas and Family Day and please be generous! 😄

As always, thanks for reading 🙏

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