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Let’s face it, in an ideal world, no one would become addicted to anything harmful. Drugs, alcohol, gambling…
People become addicted to all manner of things but because it seems so everyday it doesn’t register. Notice how you struggle not to look at your phone every few minutes.
Is that addiction?
One way or another, I suspect we are all addicted to something. If your life functions, you’re not frothing at the mouth, you have your health and haven’t lost all your money. Perhaps, you’re good to go.
For some reason I can’t stop thinking about Homer Simpson in the episode and the Venus Gummy De Milo.
Anyway, from my personal experience, not being addicted to anything, as far as I know, here are my thoughts about 5 addictions.
1) Drinking Alcohol
Yes, I do drink, in moderation. I used to play rugby and I can remember many a time waking up the next morning and feeling as if I had come close to dying in my sleep! That is a touch of hyperbole. I felt rough. In fact, there were many occasions I felt ill all week. Not a good idea. The rugby club used to fill this five gallon watering can and top your pint up as you went along. It was a recipe for near disaster. These days I seldom drink. The thought of a hangover fills me with horror. I remember waking with one in recent years and felt like a bear with a sore head. On the edge of being dangerous. No one wants that. And to be fair who wants to feel ill. I’ve know a good few friends who are alcoholics. They wouldn’t say they were but they are. And sadly one of those drank so much he has brain damage and lives in a care home and in his early fifties. Alcohol is viewed within society as one big laugh. You’re boring if you don’t drink to excess. But in truth it’s a mugs game. It cost far too much money, creates a huge amount of anti social behaviour and ultimately ruins lives. The problem with alcohol, as an industry, is that it’s worth so much money even governments turn a blind eye to the truth. When you see how many isles of a supermarket are filled with alcoholic beverages you don’t need to be a genius to know the truth. Drink less and you will feel better for it and be a better person.
As a youngster I loved playing slots (fruit machines, one-armed bandits). In truth, I don’t like the word slots as it’s not even an English word. We used to go on our annual summer holidays to Caister-on-sea, a stone’s throw from Great Yarmouth. It was back in the 70s. The old Ladbrokes holiday park. Dad went to the 3-Day Eastern Festival to enjoy top-class horse racing, not sure what mum did bar look after us which was a full-time job, and we went to the arcade and played all the machines. You have to remember in the 70s children were encouraged by their parents to gamble. You weren’t a normal child if you weren’t half way to being an addy by your tenth birthday. My twin brother and I must have been born addicts because we couldn’t get enough of them. Our parents didn’t allow us to drink alcohol, smoke or take recreational drugs but we went to the pub with them and the air was a heady mix of alcohol, nicotine and purple hearts. My clothes stank as if I’d smoked 40 John Player Special and I can only imagine what a reading of my blood would have detailed. It was just a normal life for a 10-year-old whose parents loved a night on the town. I loved it too. I’m not sure whether playing those slots was a good or bad thing. These days I find them boring as hell. I can’t stand fixed odds and there is nothing much good about playing slots. They are very addictive and once you start pressing that button it is difficult to stop. I’ve played a few times in recent years, mainly due to boredom, and I’ve gone from winning to losing, once or twice about £200. Very frustrating as the chance to win any amount of money seemed unlikely. These small wins of 13p or something ridiculous. If you’ve ever watched someone play the slots you realise they have turned into a zombie-like character. The spinning reels are the red meat. Do yourself a favour, don’t play slots in any shape or form as they are bad news.
3) Scratch Cards
I can’t say I’m into buying scratch cards, which may be a blessing. I did play the first week of the National Lottery and got 5 out of 6 numbers and won £248 (something like that it wasn’t a great deal of money). I was ruing my luck at having a 1/37 chance of winning about £300,000. What a difference that one number could have made to my life and especially my family. Even the bonus ball would have been several grand! ‘You have to be in it to win it!’ I’m always slightly haunted I change my mind on that wrong number. Just think if I had written an entree to my diary (I don’t have one) and detailed one of two numbers – one beautifully correct and the other horrendously wrong. Anyway, me chatting about what could have been and what was. I’ve noticed a lot of old people when buying their fags or newspaper at the local supermarket or convenience store buy one or more scratch cards. Some look like they haven’t got a pot to piss in and they are spending £20 – £50. It’s like they can’t get enough of the things. It’s all bad news. True they have a chance of winning. My neighbour, Larry, knows a lady who bought a scratch card and won a million. Just think if you were the person who purchased the one before or after. ‘It could be you!’ The reality of scratch cards as it is any fixed odds gamble is that the more you spend the more you will lose. The percentage is the same but 10% of a £1000 is a bloody sight more than £100. It’s times 10 if you need some help! People need to question what they are doing and especially with potential vices. That first purchase could be the making of a bad habit. It doesn’t have to be if you are disciplined, have willpower, and you have an answer to a question. If you don’t think about these things and question your emotions and motivation you will be possessed by a heady mix of neurotransmitters which get you acting like Norman Bates dressing up like his mum and talking about dirty girls and scratch cards. If you find every time you go to the convenience store to buy ‘something’ you rush outside to scratch that silver foil so you don’t have to walk home and back to be a winner then sadly you are an addict. Buy one less scratch card a week until you buy no more. Then you will be a winner.
Watch an old TV program from the 60s and it seemed like everyone smoked those days. It sounds incredible that in 1962 over 70% of British men and 40% British women smoked. No wonder people had problems. In 2020 the numbers had been lowered to 14.5%. No doubt through education, limited advertising on television and prohibitive costs. My mum and Dad both smoked. My father enjoyed a Castella or five a day, while mum had 20 Embassy, back in the day, and smokes Benson & Hedges (or some brand) now. I can’t help feeling smoking half killed Dad. I can’t imagine it is doing my mother much good either. I think most teenagers try a cigarette. It’s the time and place most get hooked. The cost of looking big in front of your peers. I didn’t like the taste, how it made me feel light headed and feared my parents finding out and, sensibly, considered the health implications. There’s no doubt smoking is addictive. Some people say it’s as addictive as heroin. I haven’t tried to conquer a vice and, perhaps, trivialise the matter as those who struggle as weak. I doubt most are but that’s the impression non-smokers like to imagine. I’d love to be a smoker and say I can stop when I like it and do so but the truth is it can’t be a walk in the park. My Dad loved to smoke a cigar. He’d smoke Castellas and on special occasions King Edwards. I guess on the level of sophisticated cigar smoker he wasn’t but he knew what he liked and enjoyed a good smoke. To be fair, I love the smell of a cigar and especially pipe tobacco. My uncle used to say how back in the day smoking was advertised as fun, sexy and even healthy. There wasn’t much in the way of bad publicity not until people started dying from many and varied forms of cancer. We are all naive to a point. Think of the things in modern times that were accepted without condition. I mean, you could have been smoking a cigar as you covered your eyes on Christmas Island as they tested nuclear bombs. ‘It’s all good fun. Nothing to fear here. You may go home with a decent tan from the second sun in the sky.’ In memory of my Dad I purchased a couple of cigars. I think they cost £20 each. I thought when something good happens, I’ll smoke one of those. Everyone had gone out so I lit one up and enjoyed the smell of it unlit and lit. I enjoyed the look of the cigar as the ash burned. I could tell it was a decent cigar. I thought how Dad would have loved to shared the other cigar sitting in the garden. He’d have appreciated more than I did. After about half an hour I had this thought in my mind. It went beyond a thought to a physical reaction. It made me feel as sick as a dog. Perhaps that was Dad’s way of saying: ‘You don’t need any of those to have the most precious memories of me.’ How true he is and how thankful I am to have had a Dad who was everything and more. Take note of all those loved ones while they are alive. The day will come when someone thinks the very same thing about you whether young or old.
Thank the Lord I have never dabbled, taken or consumed, or been given against my will heroin. I may have taken prescribed drugs as painkiller, which by all accounts have led some poor people to become addicted to all manner of legal drugs. I pity anyone who finds themselves in such a hole because it must be a misery for them as much as their family and friends. You can probably understand why some people find they are alone in this world. Its not right but I am sure I would struggle living with an addict. I enjoy watching YouTube videos and a fan of Brian Moncada who runs a company in Miami, Florida, called Adspend.com. One of his videos he detailed how he found he was smoking too much weeds to help calm his stress. From something he used to relax and bring higher insight had turned into a problem he wanted to curb. I have never smoke weed. I have no interest in taking any form of illegal drugs. I have little interest unless I am medically advise to take prescribed drugs. Even prescribed I am very careful not to become addicted. I imagine many intelligent people have said exactly the same thing and found themselves on the wrong end of a needle and crack cocaine. He had the insight to have an answer to a question. Like most things in life anything can be a positive and a negative. He said this question: ‘If you were stuck in a cell for 6 months with 20 heroin addicts would you be able to stay sober?’ I thought about this and I’m pretty confident (perhaps naive) that I wouldn’t take drugs at any cost. That cost would be my life. I say this because I am anti drugs and very disciplined to a point of being a robot. If it was my decision, I would like to think I would come out of that cell sober and perhaps bring a few poor souls out with me the same. There is a saying: ‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’ That would be me with my heroin mates in the cell for 6 months. I’m not sure whether this saying is true or not. But I’m pretty sure birds of a feather flock together. And it’s good reason why we don’t want to associate ourselves with ‘problem people’. I know it sounds harsh but it’s true. It’s a lovely thing to save a person if not the world. But doing so may disturb the hell out of you, taint your mind or lose the battle between good and evil. I watched a TV program aired in the USA called The Intervention. Honestly, what sorry tales about people who often, through no fault of their own, many making a bad decision, have a life which is desperate. I watched one or two episodes and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Horrendous situations where people had lost grip on their life and influenced and motivated by drugs. They were a shadow of themselves. Their families crushes, angry and often given up. They had a chance, a choice, to get therapy. Many did. When they returned they were different people. They came back refreshed, full of life, hope, cares and dreams. Most looked ten years younger. They had a choice from that day forth to say yes or no to the temptation that awaited them. At the end of the day, so many times, we have to answer the question with strength and disciple. Do not, if at all possible, create bad habits. Especially those which may lead to potent drugs. They will ruin your life. Life and opportunity should be the only medicine you need.