By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
Dependence must be hereditary-I come from a long line of addicts.
My grandpa started smoking when he joined the military and continued for about 25 years until he got colon cancer in the ’80s.
My grandma started smoking after her parents died when she was about 15. She continued until she died of throat and lung cancer at 58.
They passed the addict gene to me-I started smoking when I was 17.
At first it was such a thrill. I was sneaking around behind my parents’ backs doing something they had explicitly forbidden-my mom threatened to pull my lungs out through my nose if she ever caught me smoking. And I knew she really might try if she ever knew what I was doing, but I was about to be a high school senior, so I thought I could do whatever I wanted.
Of all the mistakes I’ve made in my life, smoking probably ranks No. 1. It’s not just that I could die from it-everyone knows that. But smoking is an oppressive and overwhelming, dominating and devastating habit.
In high school, it ate up my hard-earned waitressing money, made my sports performance suffer and made me deceitful.
In college, the addiction interfered with my schoolwork, interfered with my role on the Optimist staff and again made me deceitful.
It made such a liar out of me-I was untruthful with my parents, my friends and everyone important in my life. Besides harming my lungs, heart and entire cardiovascular system and literally sucking the breath out of me, smoking also sucked the life out of me.
I felt physically drained and mentally confined. Even though I’m only 22, smoking was killing me.
But I’ve recently found some independence. On Dec. 19, I reversed my worst choice and made one of the best decisions of my life-I officially quit.
I had been trying to quit all semester, but the sudden death of my grandfather a few days earlier made me decide I didn’t want the habit to have such a prominent place in my life anymore. I’ve spent the past 15 weeks saving money, smelling better and breathing easier.
Almost everyone who smokes knows the perils it poses to their health, but the pleasure they find in smoking far outweighs the thought of death 40 years in the future. I don’t want to list all the dangers of smoking or the statistics about death rates-you can call Liz Rotenberry in Exercise Science if you need those, and she’d be happy to talk to you.
I just want to say I know what it’s like. I’ve been down that smoky road, and it sucks. So if you do smoke-and many ACU students do (I know; I’ve been to Denny’s at night)-I want to encourage you to quit.
Without smoking, I don’t have to worry about craving during a long road trip with my family, feeling the urge in the middle of class or needing to leave the Optimist office to “go for a drive,” which so often happened last year. I’ve felt free for the first time in four years.
Defeating a predisposition to addictions hasn’t been easy, but it’s achievable and imperative to a less stressful life. And now my graduation in May and life thereafter will be much sweeter without the smell of smoke.