People smoke, drink alcohol, or abuse drugs for various reasons. Many find that nicotine, alcohol, and other psychoactive substances take the edge off tension, add excitement to otherwise boring routines, or make them more sociable. Whether you’re addicted to cigarettes or cigars, wine coolers or whiskey sours, prescription tranquilizers or cocaine, the net effect on your health is the same: Take away the euphoria and temporary lift or thrill, and you’re left with a body that’s aching to break free but can’t live without its physical and/or psychological crutches.

Problem is, you can’t live with them, either. The use of tobacco products is responsible for about 438,000 premature deaths each year, because of its role in heart disease, strokes, emphysema, and cancer. Despite this, more than 20 percent of adult Americans continue to smoke. It’s ironic: “To your health”—in various languages—is a customary toast. Yet in excess, alcohol is unhealthy. Alcohol causes problems for about 10 percent of the population—it can destroy families, careers, and the drinker’s health.

Other types of drug abuse produces many of the same, sad results. Yet never before have so many people of all ages used illicit drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Even prescription drugs like sleeping pills and sedatives, are used—and abused—extensively.

This chapter will present sound strategies to help you (or someone you care about) break free of a number of common dependencies.

Chapter 8
  1. Freedom from Substance Abuse