I started smoking at 16. Thirty-plus years later, not only am I still at it, but I think, especially since I started blogging, that I'm probably up to about two plus packs a day. I tend to lose count, and just intermittenly glance down, only mildly surprised to see that yet another pack is empty.
This, along with the lack of exercise since starting Shithouse rat--aka my personal blog--is beginning to alarm me mightily. I actually stopped smoking for about 5 years long long ago, but after I stopped taking Lithium (I'm now on other meds) I went into another hypomania and started puffing away again, similar to the old "getting back onto the bicycle" routine.
I've read over and over again that those with mental illnesses are much more likely to smoke, and that perhaps the nicotine serves as some sort of self-medicating thing. I know it helps quell anxiety. And there's nothing more anxiety producing than getting admitted to the psych ward, where on top of everything else you can no longer smoke. When my b/f, who's been hospitalized too many times to count for schizophrenia, starts wondering if he should check himself back in again just for old time's sake, I remind him that not only is there no real help for him there, but the prison-like atmosphere will soon be made that much more unbearable by the absence of cigs. Used to be you could smoke your brains out in the loony bin--what the hell else was there to do, anyway?--but now, no dice. I was lucky that during my last hospitalization, in Payne Whitney, they allowed those with privileges to go out in a group several times a day in front of the hosp and have a cig or two.
Back when my employment counselor/liaison at my job--who was arranging my inpatient hospitalizations and other services--heard that I sometimes drank and smoked pot, she assumed I had a dual diagnosis and sent me to a twice-a-week rehab group. At that point, I was too psychotic to speak, let alone use substances, but I do remember our counselor in group telling one pot junkie, after seeing his urine sample, that "we could smoke you."