Stoptober is an NHS campaign where smokers are challenged to quit their unhealthy habit. The challenge which lasts 28 days, helps smokers turn their lives around and finally stop for good. Continuing this theme, LS2 has decided to challenge four ‘ad- dicts’ to quit their favourite vice for a week. Kat Garvey talks to them about how they got on…
Pre-drinking at a mate’s house, then getting absolutely wasted in a club, ending up in McDonald’s fight ing over who gets the last chip and trying not to throw up in the taxi home – ringing any bells? For most people, the term “binge drinking” most likely brings up these sort of images (or memories) of people getting themselves into a variety of crazy, hilarious and embarrassing situations having downed copious amounts of alcohol. Whenever I go out, I find myself unable to have just one drink and often ends up getting completely obliterated, consuming approximately 14 units of alcohol. Yes, a case of freshers’ flu at the start of the week put me off drinking, but I was motivated to stay drink-free so I could focus on work deadlines. Thankfully, I didn’t miss alcohol when I was ill, and by concentrating on my studies, I maintained enough willpower to avoid drinking. I did drink on a night out after I handed my work in, but I did consider drinking less overall in the future.
Wilde claimed ‘a cigarette is the a perfect type of the perfect pleasure’. However, he was writing in the nineteenth century when doctors thought injecting their rich patients with tobacco would sort out all their health ailments. Ultimately, at 20 quid a week, a less-than-attractive smoker’s cough and a niggling feeling that I wasn’t doing the NHS any favours…Stoptober seemed like the way to go. Day 1 I went to purchase my electronic cigarette from my local corner shop. The owner frowned at me as I neglected to re- quest my customary pack of Marlboro Light, but soon perked up as I forked out ten quid for an ‘e-lite’, complete with refills.Unfortunately, upon testing it out at home. I realised it wasn’t such a fantastic substitute, especially with the weird way it lit up green. As the week went on, there were moments of weakness, I admit. Chas- ing a new ‘friend’ around Bed’s cramped smoking area just for a drag. The inevitable outburst at my well- meaning housemates. But it got easier. And, ultimately, managing to climb from floor 8 to floor 12 of the Roger Stevens building at the end of the week was one hell of a motivation to carry on.
Everyone needs a pick-me up at some point during the day. And let’s not forget the all-important supply of caffeinated drinks that get people through deadlines: we’ve all been guilty of pulling an all-nighter at some point and there’s no way we could manage it without coffee or energy drinks. An extreme caffeine drinker, I was drinking approx. 2 litres of caffeinated drinks at a strength of 30mg caffeine per 100ml at my worst, equating to about eight cans of Red Bull per day. That’s a pretty strong buzz! Unsurprisingly, I struggled a lot. Because I cut caffeine out straight- away, I suffered severe withdrawal symptoms and spent a few days feeling clammy, and jittery. My body’s reaction to the instant and total lack of caffeine in my system was severe and really un- pleasant for me to deal with. Aside from the physical effects, I was noticeably moodier and more easily irritated. However, the ultimate result was definitely positive because since going cold turkey, I have massively cut back and now only drink about two cups of coffee a day.
My challenge was disastrous from day one…as I accidentally bought a meat pasty after being assured it was cheese and onion. As the meat fell out of my cornish pasty, it was a sign from the meat gods. From sandwiches, to sushi rolls…they even have steak and onion crisps (‘They don’t contain meat’, his friend chirps in, ‘but they add to the cravings’). Walking past Popinas, the smell of bacon permeated through the air to my willing nostrils, leaving a sense of deep emptiness resonating inside me. It’s Monday morning- how am I going to do this? I couldn’t even sit across the paper from people with meat in their sandwiches. I even looked into Vegan Soc to see if they could help me on my quest. But it was all futile- my inner caveman pre- vailed. I lasted five days before I quit. Okay, four. But chicken doesn’t really count. At the end of the day, meat might be my vice, and I guess there would be health benefits to cutting down…but I just couldn’t live without it!