I just read two very different articles, one on the pitfalls of the addiction myth from a smoker’s perspective and the other about prison libraries as a valuable resource. What they share is a perspective on how healthy options can proceed best from non stigmatized arenas.
In the first, from Underdogs Bite Upwards:
If the NHS really wanted to help people stop, they would play down the addiction story. They would tell you that stopping is just a matter of not doing it any more. Instead they hype it up until you believe you will pass through the very fires of Hell after stubbing out your last one. That approach almost guarantees the smoker will fail. Those feelings of nervousness and twitchiness and irritability are not caused by lack of nicotine. They are your mind’s response to being convinced that you are about to suffer terribly from something you can’t quite identify. The whole smoking-cessation industry is designed to fail. It is designed to keep its staff employed and to do that it needs smokers to keep smoking.
I’ve read Allen Carr’s ‘Easyway’ book….you’ll find in there a passage where he tried to start smoking again to see if his method would work on a relapsed smoker. He couldn’t start again. He didn’t enjoy it.
Well, we’re not supposed to be enjoying it. We’re supposed to be slavishly addicted to it. One cigarette causes addiction, isn’t that the mantra? So how come Carr couldn’t restart on the grounds of not enjoying it?
Carr’s success rate was down to his method being voluntary. People went to him because they wanted to stop. The NHS success rate is paltry because they push people into stopping. They are forcing people to stop doing something they don’t want to stop doing.
The belief in being addicted not only locks the user into continuing even if they no longer feel like it but probably makes it less likely for them to consider safer nicotine alternatives. Underdogs stresses the point that keeping the addiction perspective strong bolsters the pharmaceutical industry, and while I agree with that, I think just as much that, unless you can free yourself of that belief like Carr did, it is just as likely to keep you smoking, and keep you coming back to smoking.
If after weighing the pros and cons of the behavior, you can smoke or not, based more on whether you enjoy it or not and not because you think you have little choice in the matter, you are free to make the better decision. You will also be more open to those safer alternatives rather than painting nicotine use as a prison you need to escape from.
Which brings us to the Boston.com article on prison libraries. In general, the point is that prisoners use the library for many purposes other than sourcing educational materials; some watch movies or read glossy magazines, and some use it as a place to leave letters for other inmates. But many coming to the library for other reasons end up being exposed to and then attracted to the more traditional uses of the library. They come to see it as a nonjudgmental space in which they can begin to move beyond their circumstances.
Libraries, like the idea of a world beyond addiction, are new ideas to many people, many of whom are best situated to profit from those ideas. Both libraries and stigma free nicotine use open up the arena for people to take charge of their own behavior, to determine their own best futures, and to break free of the stultifying patterns that have kept them enchained.
– Paul L. Bergen