6 am. World No Tobacco Day. Kids in the kitchen, playing, not on the radio. I jump out of bed and stumble to my mobile and turn it on before I reach the family then set it down like a packet of ciggies on the bench.
I see my beautiful, crazy pyjama boys and suddenly I am fully awake to a realisation that my mother used to do exactly the same thing with her addiction to cigarettes. I vow in that moment to get a handle, or rather, not get a handle, on my phone ‘attachment’.
Tobacco is a strong addiction. Throughout my childhood my mother was never without her winny blues. I remember her sister even giving her a carton for Christmas. She has smoked for as long as I’ve known her, which is now nearly 41 years, and I’m quite sure that World No Tobacco Day was not about to stop her. Even if she knew the statistics that tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, of which more than 600 000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke.
Why? Because she doesn’t want to, because it is her addiction and she doesn’t want to. Maybe this sentence sounds like I think it is an easy choice for one to make. On the contrary, I know it’s not.
Addiction has been part of my life for a very long time. I grew up with an alcoholic and have someone, who I love very much, that I can not speak to due to their long narcotic history.
Did you read the SMH piece a few months back about a photographer who captured a teen injecting in a Sydney lane way some 15 years ago? Article: “The boy who shamed Sydney”. Let’s just say I recognise the heartbreak of those who tried to help a 16-year-old boy not become the 32- year-old father he is today.
It wasn’t however until the incredibly sad death of Phillip Seymour Hoffmann earlier this year, that I finally got, and accepted, that addiction is a lifelong disease and for many people it is not as simple as putting the pack down or going cold turkey – because it is not even about that. It was a positive realisation that came with little comfort.
There are however many fantastic support services in our community for people wanting to break addiction cycles. And since today highlights the many brilliant services helping with tobacco addiction, I thought I’d share about a few services that help with other addictions:
I Can Quit (smoking specific)
There are also some powerful stories on the NSW Cancer Council site. Like Gary’s. Click on this photo to read on.