The Rockin Johnny B

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Today, I thought I'd lay something out there for you folks who have or are still smoking cigarettes, cigars, or chewing. I smoked for 22 years and at the last, I was downing 3 packs a day. I finally made the decision to quit...that's the secret...MADE A DECISION. Oh, I wanted to quit many times and tried to quit too, but never succeeded, and here's why.

The secret to quitting anything, be it food, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or even coffee is that golden word: DECISION. In the drug/alcohol treatment game we call the non-deciders want-tos. Oh yes, they want to, but they haven't decided to...not yet. But they will. Like my drug/alcoholism counselor [yes I was an alcoholic...notice I said was...I haven't drank in 30 years] said “you'll quit alright, it just might take the grave to make you do it.” That was enough for me as far as booze was concerned, but not cigarettes. My alckie friends kept telling me that cigarettes for them was harder to quit than booze. That scared me, so I kept on smoking. After all, it's one addiction at a time, right?

Then one day at the age of 57, I was taken to the hospital with clogged femoral arteries. I was damn near dead when they finally diagnosed what was wrong. I was lying in the intensive care unit after surgery and my doc came in and I asked him how long it would be till I could have a smoke, and he said never. What? Never? Bull****, Said I. He then went on to say, “oh yeah, you can have another cigarette or two, but it will kill you because you now have problems with clogged arteries and smoking enhances that problem.”

I quit. Right then. I had made the DECISION to quit and it was final. But look what it took to get there forgodsake – and I was lucky!

But that's not the end of the tale. No, no, not the end at all. NINE YEARS after quitting cigarettes, I developed throat cancer. The cancer doc said the only way to get it is if you smoke cigarettes. Smoking and chewing were the number one causes of throat cancer. Luck you, he said, cause we now have treatment for this problem rather than having to cut out your larynx and have you electronically speaking. It's called Radiation. It turns your skin to hamburger after several treatments; to this day I can't grow hair on my neck where the voice box is located. Yup, Lucky me.

My point is, you never know when you've had your last drink, drug or cigarette. It could be 10 cases of beer ago, or 10 fifths, or 10 cartons, or 10 highs, but the time comes when the body says, that's it buddy. We are through with this behavior and it rebels. According to statistics, it happens rapidly after the age of 40.

Even after quitting some people die. I remember Jerry Garcia [The Grateful Dead], a person I met and thought a lot of, went into treatment for heroin addiction and never came back. His body had consumed as much heroin as it could stand way before he decided to quit. And he isn't the only one.

In counseling the addicted, I could tell many tales of people who came into treatment, that had not made the DECISION to quit and died because of it. It is so common, it is almost nonsensical. Why do people continue to do destructive things when they know – or have been told – that they will eventually be destroyed by doing them. Y'all know the answer. Insanity. They believe that they can continue to do what they are doing without paying the price for doing it. Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

No one escapes paying dues. It's an immutable [unchanging through time; unalterable; ageless] law. The law is called THE LAW OF RECIPROCITY or you could call it Karma, or you could simply say what goes around, comes around, and you would be correct. If you have a destructive habit and you continue to habituate, you will be destroyed. Simple: destruction = destruction. No big mystery here.

If I sound like a preacher, I don't mean to be. I simply know from personal experience and education that destructive habits destroy. In my 'other' life as a professional musician, I have see this devastation played out many many times. You too can look into the past and count up the entertainers who have died by the hands of their destructive addictions.

I'm not even saying you need to quit doing what your doing, that's up to you. If you are a Christian, God gave you free will. If you are an American, our constitution allows you to continue doing what you are doing unless you are breaking the law. All I'm saying is there is a price to pay for behaviors and that price is called consequences. You just have to ask yourself, “am I willing to pay the price?” If you say yes, then you have actually made a DECISION.

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