There are some things in life that make our lives better, for lack of a better term. Looking for ways to enhance our lives, we resort to them at will, or on a whim, deliberately or by habit.
These little joys in life come in many forms and guises. Some are illegal, like narcotics, and involve a number of complications.
Others are regulated and dispensed from experts, like prescription medication.
And many are straightforward and freely available, like jogging, swimming, or reading a book. In addition, some are free, like watching a sunset or taking a stroll, whereas others, like going to the gym or to church, involve charges.
Here are six popular addictions, overdoses and poisonings derived from legal and widely available substances, objects or activities. Let’s examine them to see what happens when they take over a person’s life, starting with: Alcohol and Nicotine.
Alcohol inebriation i.e. getting tipsy, drunk or trashed, involves the consumption of fermented juices that promote disinhibition and euphoria. A drink or two and everything is great. People look beautiful and laughter is abundant. Collars are unbuttoned, our hair is let down, and the worries of the day are a cheers too far.
Too many drinks, though, and the world becomes a messed up place that needs its ass kicked. Caution flies out the window, and so does propriety. Honesty settles in – not the kind that clears the air but the one that reveals true feelings, hidden feelings – and things get said.
This either leads to outright explosions, or it leaves things simmering under the surface. Most of what has been said and done under the influence is blotched and hazy, if not completely blacked out, creating uncomfortable precedents for future meetings with the people involved.
Moreover, the morning after leaves a bad taste and heads hurt like hell. Mouths are dry as cotton, brains turn to mashed potatoes. A certain level of anxiety permeates the day, and it bugs the hell out of the painfully hung over, unless of course they have a drink, which takes the edge off, making everything all right again.
Nicotine is a stimulant in tobacco, and it’s predominantly inhaled through the lungs, via smoking. The inhaled smoke carries the nicotine into a person’s lung alveoli, enters the bloodstream through the pulmonary veins, goes to the heart and gets pumped to the rest of the body in a matter of seconds. Acting immediately on the brain, it gives a person a rush, making one dizzy. But the effects wear off very quickly. A couple of cigarettes later, they’re gone.
But the craving remains, and the need for more nicotine becomes insurmountable. Consider it a hook, a sickle through the brain that drags people around like a trawler. Consider it a virus that turns them into kill-throat zombies. Whatever the case, all day long, smokers have the need to suck on a bunch of dried leaves rolled into paper sticks packed with additive chemicals, pulling on them like sucklings that can’t help themselves. In goes the smoke with all its additives, all the way down the lungs, the blood, the brain, then back out it comes, spewed into the air.
The process is incessant, and the smoker turns into a chimney, or a factory. (Somebody once likened smoking to ‘eating, then taking a dump through one’s mouth’). Smokers do this all day, stopping only when discomfort in the form of jitters, cold sweat, and nausea settle in.
This discomfort usually diminishes appetite. It may prevent one from smoking too much by the end of the day, saturated as one feels by the smoke and tar.
But the discomfort doesn’t last long. By the next day, or after a few smoke-free hours, the craving returns, and the cycle continues, packing the organism with filth.
In Part 2 we examine the abuse of two common food substances: Sugar and Salt.