Why I volunteer
My name is Jordan Evans. I grew up in the welsh valleys of Merthyr Tydfil
and am a student in information technology and a former smoker.
I am twenty-three, I quit smoking at twenty-one. I tried my first cigarette during high school, at the age of fourteen, primarily due to peer-pressure from my then friends; much like many kids at that age. The first time I tried a cigarette still sticks out in my mind, particularly the unpleasant burning sensation I had in the back of my throat when I took the first drag, as well as the coughing fit I experience after. However, I finished the cigarette and felt pretty grown up in doing so – and in a strange way, I sort of enjoyed the mild feeling of calm that washed over me. That was my first experience with smoking.
I did not smoke again until two years later, in my first year of college. Being fresh out of high school and desperate to make friends, I felt that – in the area I lived, anyway – the best way to start a conversation would be through offer a cigarette to someone. I feel that most young people begin smoking for this very reason – they see it as a way to fit in. I then smoked regularly for five years, during which time I was introduced to adding cannabis to tobacco to get high. I found this just as addictive as plain nicotine; maybe even more so because of the artificial high it gave me.
For the following years I was a regular smoker of both substances, an avid fan of getting high. At the time, I did not think much of it; just that is was a small habit that a lot of people in Merthyr Tydfil do, so why should it concern me? This mentality was backed up by minimal amount of smoking I did when I first started. But by this time, I was smoking more every day. This became clear to me in my first year in Ystrad Mynach College, when my step-brother told me about how he had noticed I was getting out of breath after long commutes; being someone who enjoys a daily exercise routine, felt it would be best to quit, once I was noticed I was lacking in energy and my skin was looking more aged; especially around my eyes, where I was developing black noticeable circles. I also found I was spending a lot of money on this habit – particularly on buying cannabis. All of these factors gave me the motivation to cut down, and eventually quit.
The first few weeks weren’t easy, however, being around friends and family who were heavy smokers. I felt temptation was all around me; which made it difficult at times to say no. As I was experiencing light-headedness, restless sleep, as well as feeling very irritable for the reasons that – a few months prior – would have seemed arbitrary.
I went through various tactics and methods to help deal with the stress I was feeling, such as consuming more caffeine, as a replacement for the nicotine craving – but this was just replacing one unhealthy addiction with another. Eventually, I found distracting myself with various other activities, such as drawing, helped me take my mind off the feelings of stress and cravings I had.
In the end, my willpower prevailed and within a few months of cutting down, I stopped smoking altogether.