All the liquor shops were closed across the country during the lockdown and the lovers of the spirit had a difficult time. They had stocked enough but it was not good enough as they could not anticipate the two extensions. This may be equally true for the smokers. While I am told that both alcohol and cigarettes were available in the black market but it was almost unaffordable for the common man.
The question I ask myself as to why people get addicted to alcohol or cigarettes ? Being a teetotaller and a non smoker, some may wonder whether I am competent to write on this subject. Luckily for me there are many in my family and friends’ circles who swear by alcohol and the cigarette. My wife has been a counsellor in a de-addiction centre at the beginning of her career.
I would like to reflect on why people get addicted to alcohol, cigarettes or drugs ? It is not that people who are born in families addicted to any of these only fall victims to this addiction. It is common people coming from all walks of life who fall prey to this disease called addiction.
We all go through crests and troughs in life. Some of us are able to cope with it while others get stressed out. It may be for reasons beyond their control or their ability to bear the stress. It is not easy to deal with stresses of life at different stages. As an adolescent, one tends to be rebellious and wants to prove to the world how one is different and can stand out in society.
As we grow up as adults, we are ashamed to share our stress with anyone and thus find it difficult to cope with it. In today’s world, where joint families have paved their way to nuclear families and neighbourhoods are no longer a wall of social support, it the the individual alienation in society which is the root cause of the problem. While we have become comfortable to go to a doctor to discuss all our medical issues, it is still a stigma to go to a psychiatrist or a counsellor to discuss about our stresses and strains in life.
In today’s digital world, human connections are diminishing. We do not even know our neighbours leave alone distant friends or relatives. We do not live in joint families and hence do not have parents, elders, uncles or aunts to share our agonies. The virtual world is a make believe world and we do not realise it unless reality strikes us hard. We are proud to think that we have hundreds of friends on social media but realise that there is nobody around us when we get admitted to a hospital to attend to us.
It is in this state of mind, we believe that alcohol, cigarettes or drugs can cure us of depression. We imagine that a drink in the weekend or a smoke at the end of a stressful day will relive us of all pains in life. This may be psychologically true for the individual concerned but the reality is different. The best of alcohol or cigarettes or drugs do not have any magic properties to help us get over our miseries in life. We take time to realise that we are the creators of own miseries in life.
It is our attitude to life and living, which can make a difference. The day we realise that we do not need spirits to lift us up in life, we can bring a change. All of us go through similar trials and tribulations in life. While some of us are able to cope with it, others succumb to the addiction of these artificial support systems. The spirit, cigarette or drug is like a ventilator to a patient in distress. The day the patient realises that their life is over the day the ventilator plug is pulled out is the day, they are willing to fight back in lie.
The day we are willing to give up any form of addiction in life is the day we realise that we are the makers of own destiny. No force on earth can make us happy or sad in any situation. No stress in life can make us crumble like ashes. It is our attitude to life, which makes all the difference. The day anyone realises the harmful effects of any addiction is the beginning of their journey to freedom from addiciton.
I am not trying to be a moralist here. I have nothing against people drinking or smoking. What I am against is the belief that drinking or smoking can cure us of all our stresses in life. It never can. It is our ability to face a crisis head on and deal with it, which will make all the difference to our lives. It is like a smoker can give up smoking one day in a fraction of a second when they decide they want. to. On the other hand, a smoker who pledges to give up slowly and gradually ends up smoking all his life.
It can be addiction to coffee or tea as in the photo above and not necessarily cigarettes or alcohol.
So, it is upto us to decide what we want to be. Every human being is capable of dealing with their own stresses and strains in life. It is upto us to wake up one morning and say that ” I am in control of myself and I can lead a life of my own”. It is then addiction can transform into de-addiction.
The day to start is today and the time is now.
Why delay ?
S Ramesh Shankar
6th May 2020