Yesterday I commented on the fact that I made an ashtray in school. There was a time when smoking was so prevalent that we gave it little thought if someone was puffing smoke in a car or restaurant or even in line at the grocery store. My grandmother had an ashtray in every room of the house. She never smoked, but most of my relatives did. It was also customary to see television and movie stars smoking. In one scene of my favorite old movie there are seven people smoking. The cameraman was probably smoking!
My husband smoked for a short time when we first married. He said he started while in the Navy because smokers got a break to do so and non-smokers did not- perfectly logical reasoning. He kept smoking because it was a habit. But it didn’t really agree with him or satisfy much of a physical need because when we married he was only smoking one or two cigarettes a day. I knew people at the time who were smoking one or two packs per day! A few months after we married he quit smoking.
The origins of many of our current addictions were just that simple. There was no evidence that the product or habit was bad, it felt/tasted good, and it served some purpose in our lives.
I was reminded of my own addiction to sodas this morning when I read an ad in the April 1899 issue of The Caddo Herald. Yes, soda consumption began years and years ago! This is from an ad for Smith & Swinney Drug:
Soda Water Unhealthy? Not at all.
The big medical books- The U.S. and the National Dispensatories- say that it is a grateful drink to feverish patients, lessening nausea or distress of the stomach. Allays thirst far better than water alone and the quantity taken need only be regulated by the reasonable wishes of the patient.
That ought to settle it. If a sick person can be allowed to drink it as desired, a well person certainly has the same privilege. Our Soda Water is just right: ice cold and flavored with the finest fruit juices. Smith & Swinney, Druggists
During my childhood I was given soda, usually Seven Up, when I was sick or when we went out to eat, which wasn’t very often. My mother loved fruit-flavored Nehi. The “soda fountain” was popular in many places such as drug stores and Woolworth’s. Companies competed fiercely for a share of the soda market. (And as a side note it is interesting that sodas used to be advertised on matchbook covers!)
By the time my own children came along soda was consumed like water. We even had friends who put it in their toddler’s bottle! I drank at least a can a day for years. My aunt carried a six-pack with her when she came to visit and once bragged that she drank 17 in one day!
About three years ago I gave up my favorite soda, Coca Cola. I drank a root beer or something else once in a while. Then I just quit altogether. Soda is not good for our bodies- too much sugar- and it replaces a lot of the water we should be drinking. I still like seltzer water occasionally, for the bubbles. But for the most part I stick with water, tea, coffee, skim milk, and some fruit juice now and then.
Drug addictions often begin in much the same way. We start out with a drug that has a specific purpose such as relieving pain or calming nerves or helping us sleep. We take it as directed until we become unhappy with the results and take a little more or take it more often. Soon it becomes a habit. I’ve been told by those addicted to pain medications and sleeping pills that they don’t recall when they “crossed the line” from treatment to addiction.
Perfect, pain-free health has long been a desire of human beings. There are hundreds of ads in the early Caddo papers for tonics and potions and “cures for all ailments”. Hood’s Sarsaparilla advertised that it “clarifies the blood as nothing else can”. Testimonies from satisfied customers offered proof that it cured kidney problems, dyspepsia (indigestion), and even chronic sores. McElree’s Wine of Cardui was the cure for all female troubles. And don’t forget Smith’s Sure Kidney Cure, or Chamberlain’s Colic, Cholera and Diarrhea Remedy, or Dr. Thurmond’s Catarrh Cure. My grandmother thought that cod liver oil was the answer for any and all ailments. My grandfather thought it was whiskey. If you think anything has changed you have only to look around at the drugs, potions, remedies, and herbal supplements offered at your local retailer.
Simple choices. Seemingly small decisions. Logical reasoning. They can help us or harm us. Sometimes we don’t know which it will be until addiction takes hold and takes over.