What Do Warnings Do?

So now the fad has changed. Now it’s vaping. It used to be smoking. And now it’s the products because let’s face it, everything is based on style and the different variations of what’s cool.
I sat with a small group of people and someone asked, “How old were you when you smoked a cigarette for the first time?”
And me, I was in grade school at the time. I was this little prepubescent kid, smaller than everyone else my age, and I appeared to look much younger than the rest of my class.

I remember it.
We took a few smokes into a field as I recall. I didn’t know what I was doing. I certainly didn’t know how to inhale. I knew how to cough though.
I knew how to feel light-headed when I tried to smoke the right way.
I knew there was literally no benefit to smoking.
I new I almost threw up the first time I smoked a cigar too.

But hey, si this what’s supposed to happen?
There was no relaxation. There was no after dinner comfort and there certainly was no after-sex release as if to lay in bad, like ah, and take a drag and blow the smoke upwards like they do in the movies.

There was nothing to smoking other than a statement.
I smoked. I was cool, right?
I was rebellious. This was answering back to teachers and my parents and to the rules and me getting away with something forbidden and sneaky. This was me trying to fit.
This was a response to things in which, I had no other way answer for. This was an outlet, and yes, it was self-harm at its best.
I give you that but still, the only benefit I drew from smoking was an image I was trying to convey.

I remember there was a spot near the bus ramps in Junior High. This was off to the side and mainly separated from the crowds of kids that waited to walk in the double doors at the side of the building. I remember there was a cloud of smoke lifting from the crowd. And no one said anything. No one bothered them. They were tough.  Or at least it looked that way. They were the crazy kids, the wild ones, and defiant like little rebels quick to scream or fight back.
At least it seemed that way to me.
They smoked, right?
They were tough, right?
No they weren’t.
they were kids playing grownup.

It was always funny to me how people that smoked would always tell people not to start smoking; meanwhile, they’re smoking while they say it. Ever notice this?
The same thing can be said with drinking.
Of course, the same thing is absolutely true when it came to the age of exploration and recreational drugs.
I remember some of the older kids that knew my brother told me, “I’m gonna kick your ass if I ever see you do anything like this!”
Meanwhile, they were rolling a joint themselves and about to smoke it.

It must be that good is what I thought . . .

Everybody warns us.
But so what?
What does a warning do?

The funny thing is you know what you’re doing.
You know you’ve been warned and you know when something is dangerous or harmful, but hey, whatever, right?

I believe there was a law put in place in 1965 to have a warning placed on all tobacco products that express the dangers of tobacco use.
This ranges from chewing tobacco to any sort of use. We all know this is bad for us. We all know this is cancer causing, and yes, the percentage of Americans that smoke have significantly lowered since 1965, but still, if we know this causes cancer and we knew this causes problems, why do we still do it?
How come no one answers that question?

There are literally warnings on everything these days, but hey, whatever. Am I right?
That won’t be me, right?

We know speeding kills, but yet, there are people that still drive as fast as they can. They weave in and out of traffic, and good or not, so what, right?
Most people say “That won’t happen to me.”
And maybe it won’t but accidents still happen and vehicular fatalities are still real.
According to https: //driving-tests.org/driving-statistics/ 
Speed related crashes cost Americans over 40.4 billion each year.

There are other statistics here as well. But hey, whatever, am I right?
Who knows how they get these numbers or if they’re accurate
Besides, that won’t happen to me, right?

Here’s another interesting fact. Heart disease is the number one killer in America. I read the estimated number of deaths per year is 635,260 which make up for 23.1 percent of all deaths.
What causes heart disease?
Smoking . . .
Obesity . . .
Family history . . .

What helps?
Don’t smoke
Eat right

Of course we all know this but look at the numbers of smokers, which is high. But what is the percentage of obesity in our country?
According to https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

Over 93 million Americans were affected by obesity between the years 2015 and 2016.

Nobody wants to be obese, right?
No one wants to be unhealthy, right?
Certainly nobody wants cancer, right?
But get this . . .
Cancer is linked to 21.7 percent of yearly deaths.
Know who this is more prevalent with?
Top tier affected are the obese, the drinkers, and the smokers.
Isn’t that interesting?

There are other factors too. Be mindful of skin cancer and other cancers due to radiation. And let’s face it, some cancer is just cancer and a creeping death that comes along takes life away from us.
I hate cancer.
I have seen kids that did not get the chance to live fall to cancer.
I am sure i do not stand alone when I say, “Fuck cancer!” but still . . .

But still, healthy living does reduce the risk
but does that change our behavior?
Does the warning work as much as we want it to?
Maybe . . .

the crazy thing is we’ve all been warned. We all know what the deadly things are. But yet, we still do it.
But why?
I was part of an awareness event that showed more than 1400 people died in New York due to fentanyl. Each year, I see the numbers go up. Not down.
Each year, I hear people warn more. I hear people talking in schools saying “Just say no to drugs,” but yet, it seems as though most kids aren’t listening. It seems most people aren’t listening either because the numbers keep going up.Side note: Big Pharma is a problem. I grant this but the fentanyl killing people is not the same as prescribed in the drug store. this is us killing us at record numbers.

I am considering an idea to create a group for parents with kids that are vaping or acting out. It’s not the behavior that I think we need to talk about; it’s the motivation which needs to be addressed.

So I will bring this back to me and my motivation when I was a kid.
I was uncomfortable and I sought to find a way to counteract my discomfort. The crazy thing is drinking and smoking becomes more uncomfortable than my emotional discomforts, but hey, it’s too late now.
The idea became a habit

Keep in mind:
It’s not what we tell kids; it’s what they see.
We have to address this.

We have to address ourselves too.
No? Don’t think so?
Well, much of the above statistics are found in adults. Not kids. What this means is our kids are following a lead. It would appear as though we are breeding self-destruction.

I have famously said that I did what I did and behaved as I behaved because I used this as a vehicle to gain some kind of satisfaction.

Why do people smoke?
Because it’s satisfying, right?
Was it satisfying?
Nope . . .
Why do people drink?
Because it’s satisfying too, right?
Nope . . .
It wasn’t satisfying waking up with a hangover or throwing up because drank too much!

But there is more to it
We eat to satisfy a need.
We have been taught from a young age to find something to “Pacify” our needs.
This begins in the baby stages with pacifiers.
We learn about aspirin, which is more accurately the real gateway drug because we are taught, “Don’t feel well? Here take this pill and all will be better?”
We are a society that constantly looks for instant gratification and fast satisfaction.

Why did I smoke the first time?
I wanted to find a feeling.
I wanted to scratch an itch I couldn’t seem to reach and I wanted to create a response to things I didn’t have the language to respond to.

The problem is systemic.
This is our society as a whole.

Of course we know what we’re doing and why—even if we deny this can happen to us, we still know the dangers are real but hey, whatever, right?

Come Monday, I have to have a heart to heart with student that just graduated.
Just starting out and he is already starting to dabble a little bit.
I’m not going to talk about the behavior or warn him.
I think there’s another approach. I think there’s a better, motivational approach.
I think I’ll use motivational interviewing and ask open, honest questions without judgement. If nothing else happens, at least the student will come to his own understanding of why he does what he does and if what he does is enough to make him happy.

And I get it.
Being cool is everything.
So is feeling good
I get no one thinks bad things will happen to them
I also get the fact that no one wants to see their children go down the wrong path, which is why I believe we needs to address the problems at the root and not the symptoms.

The Old Man once told me, “Show me the people you hang out with and I’ll show you how you feel about yourself.”
He’d say, “Show me who your friends are and I’ll show you who you are.”
He also told me, “If you sleep with dogs you’ll wake up with fleas. So get ready to start scratching, kid.”
I wished I listened then.
I’m sure The Old Man did too.

Warnings do not work.
They do not warn either.
They act like bait instead because if there is something so bad in the world then why are people still doing it?
It must be pretty good then, right?

Truth is if I felt better about myself and more confident in my own personal value, I would have never tried smoking or other degrading things. Truth is if I worked on my value as much as I worked on things that degrade me, I would be in tip-top shape, healthy, and comfortable to stand on my own two feet.

I know this is my truth
But what’s yours?

Is it different?
Or, if we look deep down . . .
Is it the same?

But hey, whatever . . .


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