I recently heard the comedic actor, Simon Day (from The Fast Show), talking on Radio 4 about his life and his previous addictions to alcohol, drugs and gambling. He said something along these lines: “Put me in a room and I’ll find something in there to become addicted to.” This definitely struck a chord with me.
I’ve had a few issues with addiction myself, my most enduring one being nicotine. I started smoking aged 17 and was addicted to it in a matter of weeks. I’m not sure why I persevered with the habit initially It was pretty grim, inhaling that foul smelling smoke and reeling about green faced with the vertiginous shock of the nicotine rush. It didn’t take long before I was craving them, spending my pocket money on packets of ten John Player Specials and it was only a small leap from there to the person I am now, who needs a hefty hit of nicotine before I can even start to function in the morning. I’m ashamed to admit that I even wake up in the night to smoke a cigarette, almost every night. I look back fondly on the time when I could wait and boil the kettle for a coffee to have with my first cigarette with but those days are long behind me, my eyelids are still ungluing when I stumble downstairs and have my first hit of the day on the back doorstep.
My limit is 3 to 4 hours before the crabbiness and psychosis sets in. Often on plane journeys, I’d become a total monster after the third hour. I’d glare at the stewardesses, thinking what over made up fatuous whores they all were and Rob always knew not to try to speak to me until I landed and was safely ensconced in a cloud of smoke and stopped muttering obscenities under my breath. Oddly my rationality returns once the drug hits home and I’d wonder why I’d been so full of contempt for those lovely and charming girls on the plane, baffled by how drug withdrawal could turn me into a total monster.
I endured nine months of not smoking once by using a lot more than the recommended dose of nicotine replacement therapy. I also experienced a very hefty depressive episode at this time. By month three I was certain I’d conquered my habit, but sadly succumbed during that time of year when misery comes knocking at the door, Christmas. I sneaked a cigarette on Boxing Day to reward myself at putting on a good show of pretending I’d enjoyed the season and within a week was on twenty a day again. I know its pure madness and I’m invoking cancer, heart and lung disease, but it grips me firmly and strips my wallet of cash. If you ever see me looking twitchy and glazed over during a very lengthy meeting then there’s only one thing in my brain: a giant smoking Marlboro.
I fetishize cigarettes. I love the smell of fresh tobacco, the blueness of the smoke in sunlight and the look and feel of them. I love antique smoking paraphernalia. I had hypnotherapy and lit up as I left the office. I turned my copy of “Alan Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking” yellow. I can tell you exactly what each nicotine replacement product on the market tastes and feels like. I start to fret if I have less than 60 cigarettes in the house and used to keep a back up pack in my locker at work. I’ve smoked in lots of places I shouldn’t have and braved wind, rain and ice storms to go outside at work for one. I think I may be a hopeless case.
My first real addiction was coffee. I fell under its thrall at age 5. I loved sugary milky coffee and came to rely on the buzz to maintain my frenetic energy. My parents were constant coffee drinkers and downed cup after cup every evening. It seemed natural to join them. I physically crave it and can’t stand to speak in the morning till my second cup. I dose myself up throughout the day and run on it like rocket fuel. If I don’t have at least 6 mugs of strong coffee a day I’m niggly and have a dull headache. I have cut back as I’ve got older and have tried to learn to relax more but can’t imagine life without it. I am a bit calmer now I limit myself to six cups a day, rather than the 20 I once drank.
I’ve been or still am, addicted to people, various foods, television programs, the internet and Facebook to name but a few things. A few of my addictions have been less than savoury but thankfully I’ve managed to avoid hard drugs, gambling and sex addiction. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t react well to drugs, I get strange reactions to innocuous things, so have always believed that if I tried Ecstasy or Cocaine then my liver would fall out of my bottom. When some of my friends were into the rave scene in the 1990s and drugs abounded, I’m glad I stayed clear. I think experience shows me I like drugs too much, even the more innocent ones. The sporadic doctors’ prescriptions over the years for tranquilisers and pain killers have made me realise that I actually like them rather too much so I keep away. It’s a slippery slope. If I had them, I’d take them. All the time.
Gambling strikes me as dull, but I know if I began I’d be betting my house away within a month. Sex addiction seems too much trouble; I couldn’t be bothered with all the effort and endless depilation involved. The constant trawling of the internet or bars for a random encounter has a faint allure but you’re ultimately better off with a film or a novel. It must involve a lot of laundry having a sex addiction. I’m not sure we have the drying weather in England and I’ve no room for a tumble dryer in my house.
I stopped drinking a while back. Again, I liked it too much. The temptation to be hammered day and night hits me if I drink at all. I have urges to drink when I’m distressed or when I’m happy. I always liked the hazy shutting off of worry as consciousness faded away. I was never one to have one drink. It was either no drink or have the bottle. Not so bad for you if it’s wine but not great if you’re drinking vodka. I definitely have tendencies to be a damn good drinker so I keep away from it altogether.
My latest addiction started the way they all do. You think you’ll try it. Other people seem to handle it. It’s safe enough, isn’t it? Before I knew it I was haunted by my desire to do it. I was waking up in the night thinking about it. I’d almost make myself late for work doing it when I woke up in the morning. I was missing television programs I wanted to see, not reading or socialising. It was taking over my life.
I’m talking about the Angry Birds application on my phone, of course. It’s fiendish. If you want to label this addiction as sad then do so, but I suggest you try it first. It’s like a hit of heroin, once tried it’s a descent into addiction. If you don’t know what it is then please, I beg you, stay away. Don’t download it to your phone; the country is full of casualties. I was almost a victim of the great Tetris addiction of the 90s but luckily managed to break free when I realised that every time I walked into a room I was mentally slotting the furniture into patterns or thinking how to rearrange people. Insidious and evil and sure to have you still sitting in your dressing gown at lunchtime with a hunchback and a sink full of ignored washing up as you play just one more game. Hence I won’t buy a games console.
There is one addiction that would maybe be nice; exercise addiction. I really don’t understand that one. You people are just weird. Healthier than me but freaks nonetheless. I actually hate you and your kind. Leave me to my cigarettes and books and you keep your endorphins, whatever they may be.