Other Essays/The Nicotine Queen term paper 3878

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The Nicotine Queen

My Aunt Sabrina casually looked at her watch. She had a meeting to go to right after our interview was over. In all the years that I had been close with my aunt, it always seemed that she had somewhere else to be. We sat across from each other at my kitchen table. Her curly hair was done up in a bun on the top of her head, with small tendrils rolling down her face. The wrinkles on her hands were like old memories of past scars her body had endured. Seeming pretty relaxed, she pulled a box of Marlboro Lights from her purse, put them on the table in front of us, took one carefully out, and lit it.

Aunt Sabrina married into the family when I was thirteen, and for as long as I've known her, I've also known her addiction to cigarettes. Whenever I saw her at family functions or when we'd just hang out, cigarettes and Aunt Sabrina came hand in hand. I began in the interview by asking what her definition of addiction was. "I am the very definition," she began. "Nicotine is a drug; don't let anyone tell you it isn't. And I'm one of the most notorious drug addicts you'll ever see." She puffed on her cigarette. "There is nothing rational about addiction, I'm not a stupid person, but intelligence has nothing to do with habits. I've chosen to smoke. Addiction is obsession to me. It's a way of making yourself helpless," she revealed.

Next, I asked her a few questions on how she feels about smoking. "It's embarrassing to me. My own obsession embarrasses me. All of my friends refer to me as the 'Nicotine Queen'. At first I was proud of it, and now it is embarrassing because nobody's [her friends] been smoking

lately." She continued, "Now the rebel in me has come up and I don't care if people like it if I

smoke or not." She then snickered, "I'll smoke especially if I know they don't like it."

She sat up in her chair, and took a drink from the glass of water sitting next to the cigarette box. Aunt Sabrina admitted to smoking due to peer pressure in high school. She wanted to fit in with the "cool" group. She had been overweight when she was younger and felt as though if she didn't smoke, she would have nothing in common with the rest of the teenagers. "From the minute I lit my first Winston or Marlboro or whatever it was that I smoked, I knew that I was in trouble with a serious addiction. Even though I was very young and didn't know anything about addiction, I didn't know anything about anything. But I knew that this was going to be a problem."

For over 20 years, she has been suffering the damages of smoking, and her body is paying the price. "My health right now is not good, actually, I shouldn't be smoking at all." she laughs. "I have asthma, and, I haven't looked at my lungs lately. I really don't want to see any pictures of them." She coughs. "And I have a pretty nasty wheeze that I find embarrassing."

I went on to explore the reasoning behind her continued smoking. "I just like to smoke. I like that you can draw on a cigarette and feel it right here," she said as she pounded on her chest. Aunt Sabrina turned her head and starred out the window. She added, "It really tells you your alive!" She paused for a moment and looked down at the cigarette box, she said, "I like the kick, and that's the drug part. The part that keeps you wanting more." She continued, "You really have to work to keep up with an addiction. I mean, you have to be willing to go to great lengths to maintain it. Most of us don't think about it, it just comes naturally."

My aunt went on to tell me about her job, and what effect smoking has had on it. She is currently a freelance writer. When there's deadlines to be met and everything's piling up, she

resorts to smoking as her relief.. "The rational part of me knows I actually write better when I'm

not smoking," she admited. "Nevertheless, when I want a cigarette, I fight it, and then I give in."

When I asked if anything would get her to quit smoking she said, in a determined tone, the only reason for quitting now is purely for vanity. She doesn't like the bags under her eyes, dry wrinkles, or the rashes she gets . She complained of hair falling out, teeth being stained, and of the bad breath resulting from her lighting up. "I no longer believe anyone's coming along to rescue me from myself, from my diseases, from my obsessions, from my addiction. It's something I have to do, and I'm beginning to feel despaired because I'm beginning to feel like it's too late, and that scares me," she added. "I can't think of a good reason to smoke except I want to."

Finally, I was curious to know what she would put on the side of cigarette boxes where the Surgeon Generals warning is now. "If I was the Surgeon General, I would say on the side of the cigarette pack, 'Cigarettes are sort of a form of assisted suicide...why don't you just jump off a roof?'"

Talking with my aunt about her addiction was very helpful for me. She has been smoking for over 20 years and if she wanted to quit, she would have done it by now. The fact of the matter is, she is happy with herself. She likes smoking. Although I don't condone smoking, I feel that if people know the consequences for their actions, let them be happy, for the time being. I think my aunt is one of the most interesting people I know, and I hold nothing against her because she smokes. Everyone has their faults, this just happens to be hers. In spite of the addiction, I still love her.


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