- Your health becomes at a greater risk: Nicotine is harmful to your body in high doses and over long periods of time. The effects first appear in your lungs since the drug makes you breathe rapid and shallow breaths, causing you to have more fatigue when performing your normal daily routines. With further exposure, nicotine permanently alters the structure of lung cells, which increases your chance of developing lung cancer, lung disease, pneumonia, and bronchitis. However, nicotine affects much more than just your lungs. Smoking nicotine increases your blood pressure and your heart rate, and continually straining your heart in this way increases your chance of a heart attack or stroke. Your eyes will deteriorate, your reproductive organs may become infertile, and your bones will weaken. Worst of all, your brain will become addicted. If you aren’t afraid of the consequences, your addiction will just fuel your desire to smoke. If you do want to quit, the road to recovery will be long and full of regret when you occasionally smoke a cigarette or even fail your rehab entirely.
- You won’t always be invincible: Five years ago, my grandmother, who began smoking cigarettes when she was a teenager, was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which progressively deteriorates her lungs. Ever since then, she has been in and out of the hospital, recovering and declining. Now, she weighs only one hundred pounds and wears an oxygen tube all day and night.
- You encourage loved ones to become addicted with you, and your obsessions build off each other: Although my grandmother has quit smoking because of her health, my grandfather and uncle still continue to smoke up to two packs of cigarettes a day. Even seeing my grandmother in so much pain and so close to death from her deteriorating health, my grandfather and uncle’s addiction persists since they have been strengthened and cultivated over the years.
- You force your family to put their lives on pause every time you have a medical emergency: Having my mom get a call about my grandmother having another medical emergency isn’t out of the blue to my family anymore. Of course we still worry and pray for her recovery, but by now we know the drill. If things are truly looking bleak, which they have before, my mother contemplates taking the six-hour flight from Albuquerque to Newark to see my grandmother for what may be the very last time.
- You need your family to pay for your bills and clean your home for you: Since my grandparents are out of work and spend their money on cigarettes and whatever parts of their enormous medical bills that they can pay, my aunt and my family assist in paying for some of their necessities. Whenever we go to visit, all of our time consists on buying groceries and cleaning my grandparents’ house. My duties usually consist of doing laundry, fixing meals, and grabbing anything my grandmother needs but is too exhausted to get up and find herself.
- All you can do is sit on the couch and watch reality shows like My 600-lb Life and Hoarders: Since my grandmother gets exhausted so easily, she spends most of her day on the living room couch. She used to love to read and still does but even reading three pages puts a strain on her. It is easiest for her to just sit back and watch the same television shows day in and day out.
- You can’t travel to visit your grandchildren’s graduation, and frankly you won’t even want to: Any type of long distance travel is out of the question when having to deal with oxygen tanks, dozens of pills, and anxiety attacks. It takes weeks of convincing to even persuade my grandmother to leave the house since she tires so easily and is ashamed of her skinny appearance. Last summer, my family drove my grandmother to Wildwood boardwalk for a night. Since she has trouble walking, we had to rent a wheelchair to push her on the boardwalk and she could only see the ocean from a distance.
- Your addiction defines you: Although my grandmother only began having health issues five years ago, it is hard for me to remember what she was like before her COPD. Addiction is not just a minor flaw; it is life-consuming.
- You shorten your lifespan: While my father’s mother is sixty-eight years old, still working, going out with friends, and performing yard work in her backyard, my grandmother with COPD is about the same age and imprisoned by her health. The doctors are surprised that she has even survived for this long.
- Your addiction causes a lot of tears: Whether you are crying over your own pain or your family is crying over your death, keeping an addiction never has a happy ending. Don’t risk having these consequences by taking a cigarette. Practice self-control so that you can stay healthy, stay close to your family, and be proud of your actions.