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It Is A Choice

2010 May 14
by Bill

I remember back when I was around 14 … lighting that first cigarette.  I was cool … I was dangerous … I was just like all those other cool and dangerous people.  Throughout High School, I smoked … joined the Navy, smoked … I told myself (and others) “I can stop anytime!”  Then I was deployed to Operation Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia.  They had rules over in the sand box.  One of those rules, while on detachment from main camp was “No Smoking After Sundown” … not sure if you all know, at night the naked eye can see a lit cigarette being smoked for over 2 miles.  Now – add technology like Night Vision and InfraRed vision and heat vision … well you see what I am getting to.  I had to quit … and BOY was this NOT the place and guess what – I cant just stop anytime!

A few days after my last smoke … I was handed a can of Copenhagen Chewing Tobacco … and I rode that train for about 10 years or so.  It is, and was, a disgusting habit – and there were only a few people who knew about this vice I had.  However, I was addicted.  I tried to stop many times … I knew the dangers associated with it … I knew what I was doing to my body and mouth.  I was hooked – and I could not stop.  I quit using chewing tobacco in 2005 … for no other reason, than it was no longer enjoyable to me … plus, Dawn and I just started dating and I could see the looks of concern on her face.  She did not pressure me to do anything, she just waited.  One day – I just stopped.  I woke up in the morning and decided I didn’t want that anymore.

Jump back to 1989 … my first duty station in the Navy was Adak, Alaska!  If you have never heard of the place – it is a small island 3rd from the end of the Aleutian Island chain that extends off of Alaska around toward Russia.  Smack dab in the middle of the Bering Sea (yea where they film Deadliest Catch) … that is where I lived for 2 years.  Too make matters worse – the island was itself a military base – everyone on the island was either military, married to military, born to military or contracted by the government to work with the military!  We had 3 things to do on the rock – Work, Fish and Drink … and usually not in that order.  I quickly found my seat at the bar and for 2 years – I think I missed less than 5 nights.  I was Norm from Cheers … but I could shoot a rifle and run about a 9 minute mile.  My drinking career started off in a bad place … and to this day … I can not drink a Miller Genuine Draft Long Neck without thinking about that bar in Adak … the smell of the room, the feel of the bar, the sounds of the B-52’s blaring “Love Shack” out of the jukebox one blown speaker and my friends!  I drank … ALOT … I was classified by the Navy as an alcoholic and they sent me to class and meetings for that … but I always disagreed with their thought process.  I did not have a disease … I was not “sick” or weak … I made a decision, every time I ordered a drink.

Thank you for sticking with me through that story – now, let me tell you why I am writing this.  Have you seen the show – Intervention on TV?  Amazing show … tragic, sad, pulls at my heart most of the time.  So many things are brought to light during this show … failures, weakness, lies, manipulations.  I sit and watch these families go through hell with their addicted family member.  One thing I see on every show … is that choice!  That first drink of the day … the first hit from the crack pipe … the first pill.  I do not know how long the show is filmed to get the footage it gets – I am going to assume about a 4 or 5 day shoot with 3 days of footage and 2 days for the Intervention to take place.

Why dont they just stop?  Every addict I have talked to in my life has told me – I know I have a problem, but I can not stop.  I ask why, and I am met with – “Its not that easy” … TRUE … what type of change is Easy?  But that does not answer my question.  Every addict and every former addict has the same choice … do I take that one drink, smoke, pill, needle?  Recovery is the decision you make that one time, over and over and over.  If I looked at quitting chewing tobacco as … I can NEVER have another one.  I would probably still be doing it.  However, when I stopped … I chose not to do it then, and the next time my body said “GIMME SOME MORE!” … I made another choice not to do it.  One choice after another.

If you focus on the decision at the time you need your fix … make the right decision and tell someone about it … how can you fail?  Thoughts … Comments?

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