Editor's note: Today the Transcript welcomes former columnist Johnnie Carrier back to the fold. (And we wish him luck with kicking the habit.)
Darn it! I started smoking again. I seem to be able to go six months at a clip and then I start smoking like a diesel train. Suddenly, after all the cravings, nail-biting and being a jerk to my wife, Dawn, I end up smoking anyway. I know the risks and even that doesn't stop me. I'm an addict. A hopeless tobacco junky.
I was told that quitting smoking was the hardest thing to do. It's similar to going cold turkey off of heroin. Great, now I have something in common with Keith Richards. At the American Lung Association's website, I found out that 392,000 people die from smoking each year. It's the leading cause of preventable death.
What does preventable death mean? What's the second leading cause in preventable death -- lion tamer?
Anyway, the website continued to say that 50,000 die each year from secondhand smoke. Well, they shouldn't have been hanging out at the smoking area that is set up at most places of employment.
Nicotine is the big factor. It releases something called dopamine, which affects the reward learning center in the brain. That means when the phone rings I grab a smoke just like Pavlov's dog. But nicotine is the culprit, it is as addictive as heroin and as tough to quit. You just don't need a tourniquet to smoke. Hey that's a positive.
So the patch works for a short time, but I can't wear them the rest of my life. Other recommended quitting techniques are weaning off, cold turkey and the pill. The pill is an anti-depressant that helps control the cravings. Zyban and Chantix are the current flavors of the month to help you quit smoking but, they come with a long list of side-effects. These include, thoughts of suicide (not again), dry mouth and increased libido. Increased libido? Just what I need: Give the wife another chance for her to say, "Leave me alone!"
There are help lines, meetings to go to where you admit complete defeat and Internet boards where you can share your pain with others who are quitting. But none of these work for me because I still smoke that fine tobacco at the end of it.
You would think that the price of the smokes would be enough to put me under. If you are a former smoker, you will be shocked to find out that a pack of cigarettes cost eight bucks at a clip. Do the math. One pack a day for seven days is $56 a week to smoke. But if you roll your own cigarettes, you save big money by buying your tobacco in bulk.
That's what I do. I buy the filtered tubes and I have a machine that fills them with the deadly nicotine laced substance. You cut the cost literally in half. Great -- a cheaper alternative to kill myself.
I've tried to smoke a pipe, which for some reason doesn't carry the stigma that cigarettes have. With a pipe, people will remind you that their grandfather smoked a pipe and how the hearty aroma reminds them of the old guy, God bless his soul. With a pipe you get to play with the thing. You pack it. Clean it and you get to yell, "Watson, I've done it again!" -- without people taking it out of context.
Smoking is the only thing I have in common with Speaker of the House John Boehner. Now if he would just change his position on women's rights, we could quit together.
But that's not the reality of the situation. I'm all alone on this one. Only I can quit smoking. And I will make it. I just don't know when. But for now, I smoke. I roll my own cigarettes as if I were in the back woods rolling corn silk. (This would most likely be better for me.)
I'm like a hopeless fiend. Well, it's time to light up; here comes Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel once again ready to put another nail into my coffin. Or maybe I should say coughin'.
Johnnie carrier is a freelance writer who at this very moment is smoking away typing this last sentence wondering when he will be able to finally quit smoking.