We know if we stop smoking and drinking we will be much healthier. However, managing to achieve both is extremely difficult because we enjoy them so much. Both past times cause irreparable damage to our bodies and reduce the quality of our lives. Health professionals constantly inform us of the dangers of both habits but we are reluctant to stop smoking for a number of reasons.
Apart from the social aspects of smoking and drinking we also use them to self-medicate in times of stress. Wine Fridays are common amongst school mums after the toils for parenthood and school runs. A glass or three of wine at the end of the working day helps to relax people after a stressful day at work. People smoke because the sheer act of inhaling nicotine and taking time out gives them time to relax.
There are much healthier ways to destress ourselves without using toxic chemicals. Excessive smoking leads to lung damage and frequent drinking may destroy your liver. Both conditions are a drain on the NHS and considerably reduce the quality of your life. It is vitally important for you and your family to look after yourself and find better ways to relax.
We inhale over 4000 chemicals when we smoke 40 of them cause cancer and another 400 are toxic. Tobacco consists of nicotine, tar, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, hydrogen, cyanide and arsenic. You are literally inhaling a huge amount of poison and causing danger to people nearby through passive smoking. Formaldehyde preserves dead bodies, arsenic and cyanide are poisons which feature in Agatha Christie novels while carbon monoxide kills people in their sleep. These are incredibly good reasons to stop smoking.
Sticky tar coats the inside of our lungs decreasing the capacity and making it difficult to breathe. The more smoke we inhale the greater damage it causes our lungs. The nicotine is highly addictive because it helps us to relax and generally feel good. It is highly carcinogenic and causes diseases like cancer, emphysema, heart disease and affects the growth rate of unborn children. The smoke we see is only half the story as the invisible smoke is just as toxic. (Source: Quitsmoking Support)
Our relationship with cigarettes is resilient and long with its foundations in antiquity. Our ancestors smoked to summon up spirits to have a greater understanding of the world around them. Smoking arrived in Europe in the 16th century and we have been doing it ever since. At first for medicinal purposes then because it made use look sophisticated. Cigarettes were the motivation for soldiers during the second world war and film stars looked cool and sophisticated in equal measure. It is hardly surprising we still see them in a positive light.
The government encourages us to stop smoking by increasing prices, preventing you from doing it in public places and adorning packets with tumours and sticky lungs. There is a lot of support available and different ways to help you quit. E-cigarettes, nicotine gum and patches, Apps, talking groups and synthetic nicotine treatment like Champix help you to stop smoking. Ultimately the only person who can stop smoking is you!
Why Stop Drinking?
A few glasses at the end of the day doesn’t seem very harmful at first but if you repeat the custom every day you are exceeding your weekly units. We drink to relax and cheer ourselves up which is a paradox because alcohol is a depressant. It impairs our speech, cognition and causes us to make rash decisions. Most us enjoy feeling tipsy because it takes the heat out of a stressful day.
In extreme cases, overindulgence in alcohol severely affects breathing and leads to comas or death due to lack of oxygen in the brain. Most commonly it is damage to our liver causing most problems. Alcohol travels through the bloodstream into the small intestine and eventually to the liver which processes the alcohol. The liver becomes less efficient and produces fatty deposits causing cirrhosis and serious health issues. Footballer George Best is a prime example of someone who drank themselves to death even after a liver transplant.
Alcohol is very addictive and ruins people’s lives some people are functioning alcoholics who manage to live successful lives while topping up their addiction. Others lose family, jobs and their health leaving them destitute and unable to function. Drinking too much alcohol is bad for you regardless of whether you are functioning or not.
Alcoholics are totally reliant on alcohol and require a drink to start the day which is not a very good situation at all. People in this situation give up alcohol altogether and avoid situations where drinks are available to help them to manage the condition. Alcoholics anonymous supports people to give up drinking. It is not easy and a road with many obstacles but beneficial in the long run.
Keep a check on the amount you drink to make sure you keep within a healthy range so you can still enjoy a tipple with your friends.
By Parv Sagoo (Feb 2018)