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Addicted to the smoke of you

Smoking usually starts as a habit that lasts a long time. It evokes several feelings from validation to satisfaction. An account of a 20-something lady who was addicted to smoking, and how she overcame the habit.

It started with a drag, which became an entire cigarette, which, in turn, turned into an empty packet. It was always easy to light one after the other after the other, never really realising that the flames are killing me, one after the other after the other.

This habit started in college, away from home with no parents to police me. I would often watch people huddled together, grabbing a smoke between lectures. I was tempted to bellow smoke out of mouth and wanted to experience the "kick" everyone kept talking about. After months of being a spectator, I was offered a drag. I pulled the smoke in and swallowed. It burned my throat and I coughed. It took me a couple of days and more than a couple of cigarettes to get used to the throat pain. But I had to smoke, to be cool, to be part of the gang and to be called “the girl who smokes.”

In the initial few months, the activity thrilled me.

It became a conversation starter (Hey! Do you have a light?). It was definitely a cool thing to do at parties (Let’s smoke one!). Also, how can one forget the baarish ki cigarette? I was enjoying having a cigarette, and would often romanticize the act by calling it the “friend who never lets me down.” Thinking of friends, it occurred to me that I only had friends who smoked. Good for me, I thought.

However, I was, for the most part, disillusioned about the good part. I was an avid athlete. I used to run, but over a period of time, I would tire soon. Breaths became short. Unfortunately, that didn’t deter the habit at all. The frequency of my urge to light one increased from 5 a day to 15 when exams were round the corner. I reached out for a smoke when I was feeling stressed or low. But at times, I also lit one when I was happy; a sort of a reward.

Soon after the exams, I had to go home for three months for summer break. Another hurdle presented itself. How would I smoke at home? In a momentarily burst of courage, I locked myself in the bathroom and smoked one! That was when it became crystal clear that I was addicted to smoking. Strangely enough, before that, it was only a thing that I did.

Quitting any habit is difficult. In this case, not only was my body accustomed to the smoke, I got some validation from the activity as well. Until I got the smokers cough. Have you heard of it? It is that time in a smokers’ life when a cough, so malicious and disgusting coagulates the throat and infests it with phlegm. You have no option but not to smoke. Because not even a single molecule of air infused with smoke can slither past the throat. The activity that thrilled me at one point in time became a threat to my physical well-being.

I decided to understand the triggers for the need to light one; which were mostly stress and the feeling of dullness or sadness. Slowly, I controlled the urge to light one. I would buy a small chocolate whenever I craved for a smoke. I made tasty, mouth-watering delicious food a substitute for smoking. And, it has worked.

Eventually, all of us can cope with any sort of addiction, the only determining factor is the will do it.

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6 addictions no one warned you about

Teenage opens up a whole new world to you thus making most teens vulnerable to all types of addictions. Here is a curating a list of addictions you didn’t even know existed and how to deal with them…

Much is said and written about substance and alcohol addiction. We are constantly warned against harmful habits and are asked to tread carefully in the minefield of addictions. But what they often forget is to warn us against the less-known behavioral addictions. 

We may have given in to certain – seemingly harmless – addictions and not even know that we are indeed addicted! Well, it’s time to take charge of ourselves and change that. Let’s take a look at six possible behavioral addictions that may have quietly crept into our lives and got us without us even realizing it!

Phone

We live in the age of smart phones that are constantly being upgraded. The improved functionality of our devices is directly proportional to the likelihood of our addiction to it! Sure there is an app for everything today and the camera quality is ace, but if you have an unhealthy attachment to your device it’s time to do something about it.

Red flags –

  • You suffer from sore and itchy eyes, blurred vision
  • You have been experiencing neck pain
  • You suffer from frequent headaches
  • You have been experiencing disturbed sleep
  • You are anxious and irritable without the phone  

Solution –

  • Get rid of unnecessary apps
  • Customize your notifications
  • Turn phone off when sleeping
  • Keep it on silent mode when you need to do other important things

Internet/ Television shows

We depend on internet more than we’d like to believe. Internet today is invading our work, social and even personal life! We are constantly looking for apps to help us through our life; traffic, groceries, food orders, you name it. With Netflix and Hotstar coming in, our screen time has shot up to hours. Binge watching is an addiction too.

Red flags –

  • You feel lonely and depressed when you are offline
  • You relate and see glimpses of a TV character in your own life
  • You dream of living in your favorite show
  • You watch more than 6 episodes in a row without moving
  • You react strongly to happy and sad instances in the show

Solution –

  • Follow only one show at a time
  • Set an alarm or a timer so when it goes off you will know it’s time to stop watching
  • Don’t eat your meals when you are watching
  • Pledge to never waste a pleasant morning or a good evening indoors
  • Set time for another hobby; read, run, cook. Take your pick.

Shopping

Shopping addiction is not gender specific. It is a simple case of your body releasing endorphins that stimulate the pleasure centers in your brain each time you make a purchase thus making it a habit. Shopaholics also shop to fight negative feelings like sadness and depression.

Red flags –

  • You shop when you feel sad and depressed
  • You spend more than you can afford
  • Your shopping leads to fights
  • You live in a constant guilt of shopping and you shop some more to fight it

Solution –

  • Identify the triggers and make note of what makes you want to shop
  • Discover the need that shopping fills, try to fill it with something else
  • Swap shopping with something healthier
  • Carry only enough money to get through your day
5 questions to find out if you are addicted 

* How many hours am I investing in that particular activity? 
* Is it beyond normal?
* How anxious/ frustrated do I get when unable to do it for a few hours?
* Have others mentioned that I am always busy doing it?
* Are other things taking a back seat in my life, are my grades getting affected?
* Do I keep busy doing it even though I am aware of the consequences?
 

Gaming

Video games are addictive because they are designed to get you addicted. They are designed to be challenging enough so you keep coming back till you win it. Plus the sense of achievement it gives you overpowers the fact that it keeps you from being productive.

Red flags –

  • You feel restless when you are unable to play
  • You are preoccupied with the thoughts of the game
  • You isolate yourself from people to play this game
  • You experience fatigue, migraines
  • You maintain poor personal hygiene

Solution –

  • Time your play time with an alarm
  • Check if you still have real friends, virtual friends don’t last too long
  • Start playing board games that involve real people
  • Ask yourself if you are doing it to avoid real life issues/confrontations
  • Check if its harming your real life relationships. 

Exercise

Exercise is a healthy habit till it turns into an obsession. If you find yourself getting an uncontrollable urge to exercise extensively then you might have a problem at hand.  

Red flags –

  • You want to exercise even when you have an injury
  • You are hyperactive with your workouts
  • You feel irritable and anxious when you skip a workout
  • You have an unhealthy fixation with muscle building, size zero
  • Your life activities otherwise are suffering

Solutions –

  • Build a supportive social circle
  • Expand your hobbies and interests, read or watch movies
  • Keep a tab of time you spend working out
  • If you can’t find a way to stop yourself, get help

Love

Love is beautiful but obsession with the idea of being in love is unhealthy. If you feel that you can’t live without a particular person then know and accept that you are addicted to the idea of being in love.

 Red flags –

  • You keep in constant touch
  • You mistake romantic excitement or sexual encounters for love
  • You are desperate to please your partner
  • You are too scared to upset your partner
  • You find it difficult to be alone

Solutions –

  • Set healthy boundaries to your interaction with your partner
  • Set personal goals and invest time in your personal development career/life
  • Make time for other important people in your life
  • Make an effort to deal with emotions more maturely
  • Get help

If you have a story to share, Email it to us HERE.

If you have a query, Email it to us HERE.

You can also chat with the counsellor by clicking on Teentalk Expert Chat.

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