The Cigarette as Serial Killer

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Jeffrey Dahmer killed 17 men and boys, dismembering them and leaving some of their bodies in his freezer. With some of his later murders, he resorted to cannibalism. And every year, a million women are abused by an intimate partner, with one in four women experiencing some kind of domestic violence at some point in their lives. We all gasp in horror at these numbers and collectively aim to create a society where such violence is never again the norm.

But if you’re puffing on a cigarette while you read the shocking statistics about violence in our culture, you’re allowing yourself to be abused.Indeed, you’re embracing the abuse as if it were a friend. Smokers’ relationships with their cigarettes are very similar to the relationship an abused woman has with her abuser. Smokers, like abuse victims, are too afraid to leave but know that staying very well may kill them because of the long term effects of smoking.

 

The Cigarette as Serial Killer and Abuser

Serial killers often butcher their victims, and the abuse they inflict is the subject of nightmares, horror movies, and distant fears. But according to the Centers for Disease Control, every year, five million people worldwide die at the hands of cigarettes every year. And many of these people are butchered by the abusive cigarette. Consider a few of the ways that cigarettes can mangle your body:

  • You might end up gasping for your last breath, unable to talk or even breathe, as lung cancer destroys your lungs.
  • Many smokers end up with throat cancer that necessitate a tracheotomy. Your voice will be destroyed, just as a serial killer muffles the voice of his victim and a domestic abuser destroys the confidence of his partner.
  • Smoking can cause oral sores and oral cancers that lead to painful, bleeding lesions on the tooth and gums.
  • We all are horrified by the prospect of losing teeth, particularly if the procedure is painful. But a lifetime of smoking could mean you lose your teeth, need dentures, or have to have your teeth extracted through painful surgeries.

Of course, none of this is news to most smokers. Among people who smoke, it’s common practice to insist that the worst consequences of smoking will never happen to them. You might think you’ll quit before cancer gets you or that your genetic legacy of longevity means cigarettes won’t prematurely kill you.

This is wishful thinking – the exact sort of deluded thinking that abuse victims have about their abusers. Even if you haven’t suffered health consequences yet, cigarettes have been psychologically abusing you from the day you took your first puff. Just a few of the ways cigarettes have likely harmed your emotional well-being include:

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  • When you can’t have a cigarette, you’ve probably gotten edgy and irritable, perhaps lashing out at loved ones. At the very least, you’ve felt deprived and uncomfortable. It’s not the cigarette that cures the feelings of deprivation; the cigarette is instead the source of the suffering.
  • You’ve missed out on time with the people you care about because of smoking. If you have kids, you have to be away from them to smoke. And unless everyone you know is a smoker, you periodically have to abandon your friends or family to step outside and have a cigarette.
  • You may have lost relationships because of smoking. Not everyone is willing to date a smoker, which means cigarettes have forced you to give up relationships – just like an abuser would.
  • If you smoke around non-smokers, cigarettes have convinced you to expose others to the risk of secondhand smoke. The CDC estimates that 8,000 people die from secondhand smoke exposure alone every year.

 

Breaking the Cycle of Abuse

Experts in domestic violence frequently talk about a cycle of abuse. Abusers first groom their victims for abuse by being unusually kind, giving, and loving. They then abuse their victims and then blame the victims for the abuse they’ve suffered. Finally, they become apologetic, plead for just one more chance, and the entire cycle begins again. Smokers who have tried to quit before might recognize this familiar pattern, because a smoking habit functions exactly like an abusive relationship.

When you take your first puff, you have no idea you”ll become addicted. Indeed, you’re probably lured into the seductive appeal of cigarettes through movies and promises that cigarettes will make you cool, will help you make friends, will give you something to do when you’re in a large group or get anxious.

But soon enough, the abuse starts. The cigarette makes you addicted, and starts making you sick. You might get more colds, find that you’re hoarse, or even contract a serious disease if you smoke long enough. Eventually, you might try to quit. The draw of the cigarette, though, sucks you back in. You convince yourself it will be ok to take one more puff off of a cigarette. But much like returning to an abusive relationship never ends well, neither does the decision to give in and smoke.

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Abuse victims love their abusers, and many feel dependent on them. You probably love smoking, or at least think you do. And you’re certainly dependent on cigarettes, since all smokers are nicotine addicts. But just like the abuse victim, you need some distance from your abuser. You might feel an overwhelming desire to return to the abuse in the first few days or weeks. But just like someone who suffers domestic violence, soon those feelings of longing will give way to an awareness that you were getting nothing out of that relationship.

You wouldn’t let another person beat you up, humiliate you, ruin your appearance, harm your health, and isolate you from loved ones for years. You wouldn’t give up the things you love for a person who abused you. So why would you do it for a cigarette. Break the cycle now. As soon as you begin to view the cigarette as an enemy and abuser rather than the friend who helps you through tough times, quitting will seem like the only choice.

Kerry Gaynor

Kerry’s purpose and overarching objective in developing his Method since he began thirty years ago has always been the same: to help save lives. Addictions or ailments, whether it is smoking cigarettes or over eating, can feel a lot like being a prisoner or a slave to your addiction. Kerry has experienced so much fulfillment from helping people unchain themselves from their addictions that it is the only thing he has ever cared to do since his very first client.

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