I was recently asked by a coworker, apparently out of idle curiosity, whether it was harder to quit smoking or quit drinking. I told him it depends on how you look at it.
When I quit smoking it sucked right away. It sucked for me and everyone around me. I was nervous, irritable, and moody. I was hardly able to concentrate on anything at all. I couldn’t sit still, and I couldn’t stop talking. In short I was a severe annoyance to myself and others. For months after my last cigarette I would still pat myself down looking for a loose pack. In the long run though, it got easy. I would find myself standing in line at convenience stores staring longingly at the tobacco displays. At some point I stopped thinking about smoking, mostly. I still have those few moments where I crave one, but I realize how stupid that is and it goes away on its own.
Not drinking was pretty easy at first, I mean once I got past the actual not drinking part. It took a couple of days to really sink in. Then the internal dialogue began trying to talk me into giving in. It became an unsilenceable argument about how I could handle it and I was just out to prove something. A never-ending torrent of utter bullshit, that still crops up on a regular basis. The farther out I get from my last drink the more time seems to crawl. When I think about it I now I still get anxious. I find myself from time to time nervously walking through beer aisles at stores. The worst part is that now, approaching three years sober there is still this emptiness. Like a hole somewhere that I nothing else will fit into, no matter what I try. I don’t have bad days with sobriety, I bad have weeks and months where all I want is to get drunk.
Because it would be easier.
In the end I explained it like this; When I quit smoking I stopped carrying a lighter on me. I still have a bottle opener on my key chain.
That’s what’s been on my mind this past week.