Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Use and abuse

It's 3.31 in the morning. For the last few nights, I've had very little sleep. 3 or 4 hours a night. I'm pretty shattered, but it's just the way things are right now. I'm wide awake at the moment. This afternoon I could hardly keep my eyes open. Should have had a nap I suppose, but wild eyed rawker that I am, I rode it out.
Anyway, the reason I'm hardly sleeping is because I'm not drinking. Over the last couple of months, I've been drinking increasingly often, and increasingly heavily. And it was getting to the point where it was probably doing me physical harm.

Weirdly, I think a lot of it was because I'd given up smoking. I've now started smoking again, and stopped drinking altogether, at least for now. I know it's [tobacco] just cack that doesn't even give you a hit, but I seem to need it on some very deep level, and without it, I go slowly but steadily off the rails. It's not even about the nicotine. I think I'd be climbing the walls even if I had some kind of NRT. I just seem to need to have some shit in my lungs, and the lack causes unremitting cognitive dissonance. Right now smoking the lesser of two evils in many different and important ways.

Almost made 4 months off the fags this time. Not bad. I'll no doubt give up again in a few months.

Anyway,  a thought struck me.

I abuse alcohol. No bones about it, I found it very hard to tell myself, "No", and if I managed to, it was generally by promising myself the reward of some the next day. I've also abused cannabis. And in the past I couldn't walk past a fruit machine without spending evey penny I had.

Yet I've never heard of anyone abusing nicotine.

So what is abuse? Nicotine is an addictive drug. Why does nobody ever talk about nicotine abuse?

What makes my use of alcohol abusive? Here's what I think.

  1. I'm not totally in conscious control of the decision whether to use it or not. 
  2. I use it to achieve an aim - oblivion basically - that lies outside it's normal social function. 
  3. I use it to an extent where it is causing or could potentially cause serious health problems
  4. I spend money on it, despite our needing that money for many other essential things
  5. When it is not used, some natural biological functions are affected. Specifically my sleep pattern..
Three and four are closely related to one. If I'm making the decision to use it, despite the fact that it's harming me, and those around me, then there's something wrong somewhere.

There have been times where all five of the above have also applied to cannabis. And three of the five also apply to gambling. The health problems from gambling would be indirect, such as getting beaten up by someone I owed money to, or dietary deficiencies from not having enough money to buy food; and I wouldn't ge the shakes or lie awake at night without my fix of flashing lights and spinning reels; but certainly the other three apply.

So how does nicotine fit into this?
  1. Smokers cannot easily stop smoking. So this certainly applies.
  2. The social funcion of smoking? What's that then? This is a hard one to define, and without defining it's boundaries, it's difficult to say what kind of use would lie beyond those boundaries. Sticking them up your arse perhaps.  Smoking them to deliberately harm yourself would perhaps be a better analogy.
  3. Smoking is bad for you. There are no good things about it healthwise as far as I'm aware. In a sense any use at all is abuse by this measure.
  4. It isn't free. It's far cheaper to smoke 10 hand rolled cigarettes a day than it is to get drunk 3 or 4 times a week, but that money would still be better spent elsewhere. It's less abusive than alcohol but still abuse.
  5. I don't need nicotine to function and I don't really find any of my physical systems altered by it's lack, so it can't really be abused by this standard.
Right. It's now 4.45. I've smoked my last cigarette of the day and I'm going to bed. Sleep well, kiddywinks.

No comments: