Addiction – Fight or Flight

Addiction – Fight or Flight
By Abel Kubare, East Leeds Magazine, April 2013

Mother assumes a peacock gait as she proudly shows me her exuberant tobacco crop. ‘This will fetch a lot at the auctions this year if your brothers gather enough firewood to cure it’. Yes mother, yes mother. But my mind is in a Vatican black-smoke-white-smoke dilemma. I appreciate the courage of a widow to carry on independently but this crop of yours is destructive from seedling to ashes.
Whilst maize was the main crop there were trees around here- a forest. One did not have to wonder far off a footpath to answer the call of nature. (I’m sorry, but this is just part of the ecosystem in these parts). The deforestation to feed tobacco barns is shamelessly brutal.
Addiction to tobacco can be viewed as having 3 components; chemical dependence –cold turkey without a fix; physical habit-the fun derived from the action of smoking; psychological– the belief and thought that one needs a cig after an argument.
A clinician can help a smoker with a prescription of nicotine and a stress ball as an alternative to holding a cig, but I believe the psychological part of addiction is only cured by will power, a smouldering fire from within: the decision that quitting benefits you and that it is your desire to stop smelling. Oops, I’m sorry. I love you all really. I can’t find the delete buttons on this laptop, my nerves are jangling.
Our nervous system has two branches. One mediates the fight or flight actions – speeding up things…for some of us growing up petit and with lips that no fly could ever land on, flight always prevailed over fight. The other branch mediates the dampening of things- it generally slows down actions. Many drugs work solely on the fight-flight system or the dampener, not both. However nicotine stimulates both branches of the nervous system at different sites along the nerves’ electrical codes. This is why some people will have a fag to calm them down while others will take one to brighten them up.
It just depends on the net balance of effects of the drug on the two systems. But that is not all; nicotine also directly acts on several sites in the brain. In a nutshell; nicotine causes chaos to our internal biological systems.
Some addictions such as gambling are like Vietnam. You get a couple of wins here and there then you lose and lose and lose again before you realise it’s time to quit. Kicking a habit is not as easy as forming it.
Most addictions such as those to nicotine, alcohol or dodgy emotional needs require a parental nip in the bud. The other day- my dearest, my daughter the Yorkshire lass tried to break into a conversation about one of her girl friends going out with a classmate and I hastened to shut her up. What’s that all about? Under 9s breaking into such waffle? An over 16 sibling has never even dared stir that hornet’s nest. I can imagine this one getting hooked to anything going just to maintain a healthy disrespect and disregard of my opinion and advice. It shall not be allowed. Not under my roof. Call me Primitive Old Geek. Someone pass me my tablets, please!
Yes, as a teenager I did experiment with smoking but like President Clinton I didn’t inhale and I never tried it again!
Yours Medicinally, Abel Kubare,

Superintendent Pharmacist Day & Night Pharmacy
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