The Illusion of AAaaaaahhhhh
"Smoking is an illusion. Cigarettes take away from us, only to give back just enough to make us think that we want them."
My smoking career started off pretty cliche'. Four young boys hanging out by a creek with cigarettes that one of us stole from our parents.
I remember that first cigarette. As I forced the smoke down in my lungs, causing me to have a coughing fit. I remember the overwhelming feeling as the nicotine, smoke and 4000 other chemicals came rushing into my body and brain, causing me to feel dizzy, nauseous, shaky, amped and probably a bit confused.
I don't remember particularly liking it. I should have stopped then, but like everyone else here, I didn't.
Maybe because I wanted to be cool like my friends. Maybe I actually did like the dizziness feeling. Kind of like when I was younger and I would spin around until I was too dizzy to stand. Maybe I was just an addict in the making. It's all just speculation now.
Whatever the reason. I kept on doing it. Unfortunately, the friend who stole the cigarettes had an endless supply. His dad worked for Marlboro as a salesman. He literally had a garage full of sample 4 packs.
So my friends and I would occasionally go down to the creek. Smoke a cigarette. Feel that overwhelming dizzy feeling, lay on the grass for a while until the effects wore off then go ride our bikes. I thought it was something that I could just do or not do, even when I started smoking cigarettes without my friends being around. Even when I started sneaking off by myself to smoke. I was wrong, because something was happening that I was totally unaware of at the time.
Being the amazing machine it is, my brain had to adapt to this foreign poison I was forcing into myself.
Nicotine was releasing a flood of dopamine into my system by mimicing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. My system became off kilter. My brain needed to regulate the amount of dopamine being released, but it couldn't regulate nicotine, as it was a foreign substance (poison). So it had no other choice. My brain started turning down it's own sensitivity to acetylcholine. Nicotine was literally desensitizing me and impacting my mood.
The more I smoked. The more my brain turned down it's sensitivity to acetylcholine , creating a cycle that would start to make me rely more and more on the cigarette just to feel "normal".
My brain also started rewiring itself to try and intergate nicotine as part of it's normal function.
In some neuro-circuits my brain diminished the number of receptors available to receive nicotine, in others it diminished the number of available transporters and in still other regions it grew millions and millions of extra acetylcholine receptors (up-regulation), almost as if trying to protect itself by more widely disbursing the arriving pesticide.
Nicotine also having the ability to fit my adrenaline locks, created another problem for me. As the effects of dopamine wore off. I was left with a fight or flight feeling. As I increased my nicotine serum level. My anxieties started to become more severe as the effects of nicotine wore off.
Yet, my subconscious started to figure out something that I wasn't fully aware of. If I smoked a cigarette, that anxiety would go away.
This was the start of what would become known to me as the AAaaahhhhhh sensation.
For 21 years I lived this illusion. As much as I really didn't like to smoke in my later years. I allways thought that it must have done something for me, for me to continue to smoke. Yet the more I smoked, the more I didn't feel anything anymore. Nothing. I was now smoking just so I could feel "normal". I was smoking just to keep the anxieties of not smokng at bay. There was no pleasure there and I didn't even realize it. I was stuck in the cycle of addiction.
They say that a twenty year smoker who averaged a pack a day and took eight puffs per cigarette, lit 146,000 cigarettes and took over one million puffs!
So even when I tried to quit smoking, my subconcious still remembered smoking. It still remembered that if I felt anxiety, for what ever reason caused it. A cigarette would relieve it.
So even when I quit smoking and adjusted to having no nicotine in my system. I still had those AAaaahhhh memories calling my name.
Everytime, I would answer the call and smoke that first cigarette, expecting that AAAaahhhhh feeling to come to me. I expected to get that feeling of satisfaction. Yet it wasn't there!!
I usually felt like I did the very first time I smoked a cigarette. Dizzy, nauseous, shaky, heart beating too fast and confused. Confused that the cigarette didn't bring me relief like I anticipated it would.
The problem was that unlike the million memories my mind created during my smoking career. The memories that told to me to expect relief and satisfaction whenever I smoked a cigarette. Now that I didn't smoke, I didn't NEED nicotine anymore. There was nothing missing. There was nothing that needed replenishing. So there was nothing there to relieve.
What I didn't understand at the time is that though the AAaahhhh feeling is real. It is WHY it is real that is the illusion.
Yet, after that first cigarette. I would still look for that AAAaaahhh feeling in the next cigarette and the next.
Again, my brain being the amazing machine that it is would say " Oh, I remember this program and luckily I still have all the rewiring in the hard drive."
So as I smoked that 2nd cigarette and that 3rd cigarette and so on. My brain, once again started to turn down it's own sensitivity to naturally release dopamine. Once again desensitizing me and impacting my mood.
All the extra acetylcholine receptors initially made were still there. Just like a power plant the was shut down and out of business. Once again though, my brain had to open the gates and the power plant was once again up and running.
As I increased my nicotine serum level. The anxiety after effect as the nicotine wore off became more and more intense. This only reinforced my subconscious into saying, " If you feel anxieties, smoke a cigarette and they will go away."
Soon enough the AAaaahhhh sensation was there. Not because cigarettes did something FOR me, but because they did TO me.
I was once again needing to maintain my nicotine levels just so I could feel so called " normal". I had to smoke again and again just to keep the anxieties from not smoking at bay. I had once again built an artificial sense of normalcy. I was once again in the very place that I didn't want to be..... in the grip of addiction.
As Allen Carr said. Smoking is an illusion. It has to take away from you to create an illusion that it does something for you.
If AAaaahhh memories are calling your name. Remember this. The cigarette never changes. Only your memory of them does.
I fell for this illusion over and over, because I used to believe it. Don't believe it anymore! It is based on the lies of smoking. You don't have to make the same mistake I did over and over.
You are free now!!
Keep choosing Freedom & Never Take Another Puff!!!
I Freed myself on 7/7/04