If you’ve ever attempted to drop a bad, addictive habit like smoking or drinking, you might be familiar with the following.
In order to kick a bad habit, you need to kill two grotesque monsters. One is the small monster – the one that controls the addiction itself. It offers you some minor physical withdrawal symptoms once you decide to kill it.
The stoppage of the drug causes the physical body to throw a tantrum of sorts. Depending upon the drug, this tantrum can be mild or somewhat complicated.
Interestingly, the degree of that complication depends in large part on the nastiness of the second monster.
What is the second monster? Brainwashing, for lack of a better word. It’s the big monster that’s often much more difficult to slay than the little pathetic withdrawal monster.
The big monster is the psychological, societal story pushed on your brain by the media in the service of commerce. (Aside: Don’t get me wrong. I’m a libertarian, laissez-faire capitalist. I have nothing against commerce, unless, of course, it’s in the service of corrupting children and getting people hooked on useless and perhaps dangerous drugs.)
You may recognize how the big monster is portrayed in our modern media system.
The alcohol brainwashing shows people having a wonderful time while supposedly drunk. Here’s a parody of this portrayal:
The movies show our favorite actors relaxing with cigarettes, avoiding the pressure of the day, and acting cool with a puffing stick.
Plain and simple, these stories about the pleasures of addictive substances – and they’re stories told to us when we’re most vulnerable – come at us via media brainwashing.
While our brains are in theta and alpha brain wave states, when we’re following along with intriguing stories, the brainwashing comes in. It could be a native ad in a movie (as with cigarettes), or in a traditional commercial break.
An enticing music track stops us. Our brains are receptive. We take in the sights and sounds, with wonder and aspiration. These images get tucked right into our subconscious young minds. We learn how the world works at a very young age. We copy the actors, sing the songs, and soak up the branding.
So the big monster is born if ever there comes a time when we pick up an addictive habit. The norms and patterns are in us. We accept the smoker and drinker as cool. We associate happiness and beach scenes with beer. Hey, it even works with chewing gum, but gum’s not quite as addictive as these others.
When addiction strikes, we’re pre-programmed for the big monster. And what does the big monster do? He makes it very difficult for us to stop drinking or smoking when we choose to do so.
In reality, the little monster is not tough to kill, but the big monster has a solution for that. The big monster brings us all kinds of media messages that tell us how difficult it is to stop the habit. “Smoking is tougher to kick than heroin.” Ever heard that one? It’s not true, but you’ve heard it. Some tobacco exec probably cooked it up in a board room somewhere.
Same with alcohol. You’ll get DTs. You’re going to sweat in a corner and curl up in fetal position. You’ll go mad and see bugs. All that nonsense feeds the power of the big monster and keeps the booze user afraid of habit kicking.
The good news? Quitting any of these drugs is easy. You just need to do a double tap on the small monster and the big one.
You are not a slave to the drug industries, and you shouldn’t behave like one. You can be free. One of the most embarrassing things about kicking an addiction is the realization that you were played by advertising professionals, industry shills, and people whose job it is to take your money in exchange for chemicals that quickly kill you, embarrass you, make you smelly, torture you, and make a fool of you.
What kind of a deal is that?