Friday, 12 September 2008

Conclusions? Not really... Part 2

As I mentioned in the previous posting, there was something in the last letter of Pavlina that I found really interesting. In concrete terms, it was this passage of her letter: „…my self-perception is very often dependent on something external. When everything is working well for me, everybody is nice to me, I feel good. Much worse is, when someone is unagreeable to me, criticise me, don´t understand me, don´t accept me. The lack of material things is bad for me as well.“

How should we read this text thinking about self and identity? As an expression of self-doubt? Lack of self-confidence? A pathological state of mind? Or as an inevitable human condition, confirmation of the fact that person is a social product? Answering these questions always requires us to have some kind of theory of self, of the very nature of our mind. There are plenty of such theories in various disciplines such as psychology, sociology, psychiatry, philosophy, linguistics, neuroscience, gender or cultural theory. Firstly, to find some clue how to relate the theories to one another, we can distinguish two extreme kinds of determinism: individual and societal.

In the context of drug and addiction field, we may meet individual determinism in some traditional treatment settings of drug addiction. At least in my country, addiction treatment in large amount takes place in special departements of psychiatric clinics where people are accomodated, have strict rules for their daily routine and interaction with one another and the largest part of the treatment consists of „repairing one´s mind“: through individual, group psychotherapy, journal writing, work, etc.. Then, typically after three months, the treatment is believed to be finished and the person is released, hopefully with their mind changed. The idea behind this kind of treatment is that there is something wrong in the individual mind of a person in respect to the fact that he or she takes drugs or drinks alcohol in such excessive way. The suggested solution is to fix it, resolve it, with the available tools for the mind. We are not able to evaluate such kind of treatment away from the behaviour of the person: the only success measure is whether or not he or she starts to use drugs or drink alcohol again. If he or she does, the conclusion may be either that they were not prepared for the treatment yet, that they did not give enough effort to the treatment or that the person is damaged so badly and inherently that the amount treatment was not enough (interesting is that there are not many claims that the treatment itself was badly performed). Much too often, the individual determinism influences also the „patient“ and so, when there are any kinds of self-doubt after finishing the treatment, he or she can start to blame oneself, getting feelings of loss and then there is just a small step to taking the drug again to finally confirm that they have failed. Anyway, „relapse“ is the prove that the „wrong thing“ is still there, in their mind, and so they have to have it treated again.

The second, societal type of determinism may perceive the „addicts“, „junkies“ or „alcoholics“ as a life-long social role which is inevitable because of the power relations in the society. The individuals cannot fight back againts such a fate and therefore are condemned to stay addicts for whole their life. Even if they manage to stop taking drugs, the society with its institution inevitably pushes the person into the same social role again and again. The explanation of addiction tells us that there is not anything bad in the individual but more likely in the society. Thus, the representatives of society should make the living conditions for the addicts at least bearable.

Ian Burkitt, social science theorist at the University of Bradford writes in his book Social Selves: Theories of Self and Society that every search for nature of self may be captured by a question that people try to answer which is: „who am I“? He refuses both kinds of the determinisms mentioned and perceives the answer to this in much more complicated interplay of individual and society. Even if we mostly try to find the answer the question „who am I“ within ourselves, it is not the kind of task that we can resolve alone. As Burkitt writes: „…we look to other people to see the image of ourselves reflected back in their words, attitudes, expressions or actions.“ Then, Burkitt elaborates on different approaches to the relation of self and society, many of which agree upon an assumption that we are born into relationships and we are created by these relationships. In this respect, the society changes of last decades had great influence on our selves. Even if there isn´t any agreement on consequences of these changes, at least we can wittness the huge exapnsion of possible relationships: from the first years of our lives we are connected to different images of people all around the world through TV, movie, satellite and especially internet. We can see how they live and we can compare it to what our parents are telling us to see if they are „right“ or not. On one side, this situation is opening many new possibilities for developing and changing one´s identity, on the other side, it instantly threatens our intimate relationships and our sense of certainty and stability which we gain through them.

Since one hundred years ago, in the time when the psychiatric departments for addicts were being established, people lived most of their lives within one set of relationships and the identity, status and role they have gained in these relationship was often staing with them for most of their lives being very difficult to change, it is no wonder that people perceived the identity of addict, junkie or alcoholic so fatal. But today, this view does not make sense any longer. People can easily change their settings, either geographically or just symbolically attach themselves to another people with another assumptions, beliefs, life-style. Today´s society welcome flexible, reflexive selves with a potential for change. The kind of selves that are produced by traditional treatment of addiction are no longer useful!

But there is the other, more pessimistic side, that is, the decline of certainty in intimate relationship, fragmentation of relationships. Self-doubts, feeling of misunderstanding and incapacity of oneself which are well captured in the Pavlina´s letter mentioned at the beginning, is a side effect of this situation. So, we may read this letter more as a characteristics of today´s society than the self, but at the same time, we should ask: what may an individual do about this? How does one gain at least sufficient sense of certainty that makes his or her life bearable? It looks as if I should start to work on „part 3“…

Friday, 5 September 2008

Conclusions? Not really… Part 1

Well, my „Fulbright scholar period“ is coming to an end, in fact, in some way it has already finished since I left Houston (you can check how it looked like in my facebook page) and moved to a beach in Zipolite, Oaxaca, Mexico, to catch some sun and to work on a Czech translation of a book of Harlene Anderson (co-funder of the Houston Galveston Institute where I have spent this summer) Conversation, language, possibilities which is actually also part of my Fulbright project.

It seems I should make some conclusions, findings, results. However, at the end, I have maybe even more questions than at the beginning. But I am not at all disappointed with that, more likely I am happy about that and I think that this is the best „result“ I could ever wished. I have a lot of enthusiasm to future work. More than „findings“, I made some shifts in my thinking about the whole issue and also about research in general and I would like to share these shifts in this blog.

To start with, I have translated my correspondence with Pavlina, girl who wrote me an e-mail while I was already in Houston. I think this would perfectly serve as a demonstration of some of the shifts I made. Pavlina was answering an advertisement that I put to find informants for the study. She was offering her experience which seemed to be similiar as of the others, still, her period after quitting regular use of meth was much longer: 12 years. In my response, I explained the current situation of me being abroad and I have sent her my final report of the research which I wrote in Czech to fulfill the obligations I had towards association MARISA – a sponsor of the research. I also wrote her that I would be happy if she could share any commentaries she would have. So, here is a piece of our communication which I hope will continue:

a letter from Pavlina:


I went through your study and here are my reflections. I was strucked by the fact that most of the people who took part in your study came from divorced families. By the way, that was my case, too. I am wondering, to what extent this situation may influence the psychological development of a person and his/her future life? I suppose that quite cruically. Anyway, I can confirm all the things that you describe in your study from my own experience. The attempt to abstain is preceded by a feeling of dissatisfaction with one´s own life, eventually also some „breaking“ situation. After the decision to abstain, it is necessary to break down the social bonds, establish or renew the relationships with the family, friends, to start a job, to fill one´s time with something we enjoy. But, a crucial influence on how long and with what effort we will abstain has, by my opinion, the realisation of a reason why I actually started to use drugs. What made me disturb the basic laws of life and go againts myself? Why have I punished my body and changed my natural mind-set? By my opinion, it is a lack of self-love. A disability to accept myself such as I am. I think that after one goes through different addictions to this point, he/she has won. He/she loses any kind of need to take drugs. To put it simply, he/she doesn´t have any reason for punish him/herself. After 12 years of abstinence, my thoughts go already in a different direction. How to prepare my children for a world, in which drugs take place, how to make of them beings who will be happy enough not to have any reason to start drugs. How to fortify their self confidence to such extent so that they manage to refuse the drug even if it may exclude them from the company. If there are any studies for parents and you know about these, I will be happy if you send me a reference or a name of the author. I wish you a nice day and looking forward to our meeting.

a letter from me:

Thanks a lot! It is very interesting what you are writing about: the lack of self-love… something like that was kind of under the lines in the interviews so I couldn´t consider it as any kind of „findings“, more likely just ideas… I suppose you are evaluating the situation with much more distance, after the twelve years, which is great. I am looking forward to talking to you about it, I am just about to finish my stay here in Houston and am moving for several weeks to Mexico, then I am coming back and I will let you know. The thing with the parents… I like the way you put the question: „how to fortify their self confidence to such extent so that they manage to refuse the drug even if it may exclude them from the company.“ It seems to be really important thing, I may add, how to enable the children to be able to achieve the feeling of self-confidence by themselves, not to be reffered just to some external sources. It is difficult to refer to you some good reading in Czech, I must confess that I still haven´t looked much for it. But I have such an idea that I would re-write some of the interviews to a kind of readable form, add few commentaries maybe and then it could serve as a reading for parents – no guidelines, more likely just to hear more views. But, whenever I find something interesting to this issue, I will send it to you.

Do you read in English? Since in U.S., I started to write a blog in English about the research, so you may find it here:

And I also fell upon an idea if you would agree with a translation of your e-mail into English and put it on the blog as a reaction of someone who was not engaged with the research but had similar experience. I think it would be wonderful.

Have a good time,


a letter from Pavlina:


of course I agree with publication. Unfortunately I do not speak English, well, at least I had a look and could see how you look like. Consider my previous letter as a pure subjective opinion and maybe observation of some of my friends who were taking drugs with me and about whom I know a lot. After reading your letter I realized an important thing, that I cannot pass to my children something what I still do not have sufficiently resolved. It is not such a long time when I came up with a point that my perception of myself is very often dependent on something external. When everything is working well for me, everybody is nice to me, I feel good. Much worse is, when someone is unagreeable, criticise me, don´t understand me, don´t accept me. Similiar bad is also lack of material things. In the last time, I do what I can to find a way how to be feel good all the time and especially I am trying not to take anything personally. But still, I have such a feeling that thanks to the hollowed traces from past, it is really not so easy. Once, one man told me that the spiritual development is like an onion, you slice one layer and there is another one, and another and another. For me, it fits 100%. Say hello to Mexico.

In the same way as she „realized an important thing“ after reading my letter, I realized other „important things“ after reading hers. And this itself is the most important thing I realized about a „research“ in social sciences: always unfinished, always coming up with another questions, another ways of thinking. To be continued…

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Poor, depressed, lonely? Join meth users!

1) You will have a lot of friends!

Using meth will become a door key to the company of young, funny guys who never get tired and are really enjoying their lives; they are not stuck in stereotypes and prejudices as, for example, your parents; their life is full of adventure and unusual experience, you will never feel alone; and they will be anxious to teach you everything about your new life…

2) Your mood will improve rapidly!

You will be achieving states of high euphoria you have never experienced; you will feel self-conscious and self-confidence you have always dreamt about; your communication skills will improve, there will be no nervosity in your voice any more; of course, there will be hard times when you will be out of meth, but you will already know exactly what will make you feel better…

3) You will become „somebody“!

If you have had doubts about your role in your life, forget it. You will never be a „loser“ anymore. You will become a cool guy, you will feel brave and strong, you will get slim, you won´t need to do any difficult decisions; people will be noticing you more: even those who currently seem to lose interest in you, your parents, friends, they will be concerned and worried of you; moreover, there will be an army of outreach workers who will be offering you clean needles and vitamins; there will be case workers who will be offering you treatment; but you will be just refusing it and your value will go up in the eyes of your new friends…

4) You will learn how to get money very fast!

People who will be around you already know how to gain money quickly and they are ready to teach you that. Everybody can do it, it is just about practice. You will learn how to steal expensive brand clothes, good cars, jewelry and other stuff. Or, you can learn how to prepare meth! It is pretty easy and there is a lot of money for that! You will learn quickly from your friends how to rationalize your behaviour so that you wouldn´t feel any blame. Lately, you even won´t feel any blame to steal something in your parents´s house. It is just about practice, you will get used to…

5) People will care about you!

If you will be really down, you won´t need to explain anything. You may just say that you are „addict“ and there will be people who will give you place to stay and food for free. You can have a rest for three or more month in a clinic (at worst,in a prison – but the treatment units are quite comfortable there) and then you can come back to your friends! Maybe, your life won´t be so long as that of your parents, but who cares… short but amazing life is better than long, depressing, lonely dying, don´t you think?

Attractive advertisement, isn´t it? The people I was talking to, heard such a calling before they started to use meth. What I want to emphasise is that it is not calling of the drug itself but rather of the idea of drug user, of the life-style, the identity that is connected to use of methamphetamines in specific geographical and historical situation. It was not only the effect of the drug that they appreciated but also the relationships, status, activities, all the important aspects of particular identity that was starting to develop. More importantly, even the „effect of the drug“ was gained through the relationship with others. People was taught how they should take, enjoy and feel about the drug.

This identity I am talking about is not a product of neurotransmitters, genes, pathological family or evil soul. It is an ever changing social product and many social groups were and are taking part in creating the contemporary image of „meth user“, including politics, medical scientists, psychologists, policemen, social workers, judges, journalists, policy makers, and of course, the meth users themselves. To put it more clearly, the person who start to use meth inevitably enters the identity of meth user that is already there. He or she can distance themselves from the identity, they can even change it, but not avoid it.

In this blog I would like to describe the process of creating the „idea of meth user“ in more deatil, both from the perspective of society and the individual. Since the most important thing I believe is that the identity is a dialectical process: the person enters some already established identity and at the same time he or she is actively creating and re-creating it. Most of my theoretical thinking is inspired by the classical work of P. Berger and T. Luckmann Social construction of reality, also by I. Hacking: Social Construction of What? and finally by I. Burkitt and his 2nd edition of Social Selves. The application of their thoughts for the use of methaphetamine comes out from my interviews with ex-users.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Do we need a higher power?

As a regular subscriber and reader of Daily Dose and blogs of prof. David Clark, I have recently found myself being more familiar with the current situation and discussion around drug policy in UK than in my home country! So, after I realized this, I checked some of the Czech websites aimed at drug and alcohol issues. At the homepage of Centre for Addictology I found a draft document of a conceptual plan for ambulatory/out-patient care in Czech Republic. Authors of this document stated that they appreciate comments to this draft so I decided to think about it.

After reading it, my immediate idea was to write something from the point of view of potential service user since one of the important points of the document is not to make distinctions between different types of drugs as methamphetamine, tobacco, marijuana, heroin, kaffein, or alcohol. Their suggestion is to develop a network of out-patient centers with secured funding where users of the substances mentioned above and others could seek help. So I was wondering what kind of help could I seek as a kaffein, nicotine and alcohol user and I found that it is first of all treatment that is being offered. Still, I was not able to find out what precisely is behind this word: „treatment“. In another words, what would happen to me if I come?

By chance, during the last weekend when I was thinking about this document, I had very interesting experience. I decided, while in U.S., to attend a meeting of Narotics Anonymous. In fact, it was not my idea but of one of the clients of treatment center I attended two weeks ago in Galveston. He thought that it could help me to get rid of some of my pressumptions about AA movement. So I went. I checked on the internet where the nearest meeting is and I found it was right behind the corner. I came there, asked if I can join them and they agreed. Personally, I am not comfortable with things like: „we must admitt our powerlessness…“, „Hi, I am Mark and I am addict…“, „we gave up…“ simply because it implies that there is some higher power that knows what is best for some group of people defined by a regular use of some substance such as heroin or cocaine. But I was surprised that these things was really not so much important. It was written in the book they were reading from but then they could freely comment on these thoughts, comparing it to their experience. They could be critical (and they were), there was no one to tell them what they are supposed to do. There were just them, people who are trying to maintain drug free life. Voluntarily. There was no priest, no psychiatrist, no counsellor, no social worker (except for me…). And it was precisely this what the people evaluated as the most beneficial. That they can come to a group of people who are experiencing similar situation and that they can freely talk about it. Nothing less, nothing more.

Now, back to the draft document of a conceptual plan for ambulatory care in Czech Republic. Personally, I am not comfortable with things like: „patients were treated…“, „syndrome of addiction which is determined by…“, „…psychological and biological predispositions“, „…care must be provided concordantly with recommendation of proffesional associations“, „treatment of addictive illnesses…“ simply because it implies that there is some higher power that knows what is best for some group of people defined by a regular use of some substance such as tobacco, heroin, kaffein, alcohol, methamphetamine or marihuana. Since I suppose that this document will be used to raise funding from the health insurance system, I understand the use of language of people who will be actually doing the decisions about the money. But I wonder how will this affect the people that are going to receive the care?

I do not have many years of experience in the field of substance abuse (I have just started my sixth year) but I have already been to more countries where I had a possibility to talk with people who are receiving some kind of care (Czech Rep., England, Mexico, USA). And what I am still hearing is that they benefit most from the possibility to talk to someone who treat them as people, as humans, who give them space to express themselves in the way they like. And they appreciate when they have possibility to talk to someone with the same experience as they have or who is going through a similar situation. Even people that were not using any services (whom I talked to in my research) needed something like that! In fact, we all need something like that…

This is what I miss so much in the draft document. What will the „treatment“ be like? When someone seeks help: where will he go, what will be written at the door, who will sit inside, what will he be telling him or asking him about. In my worst imagination, it will be somewhere in a medical center, there will be a sign „Addiction treatment“ at the door and inside there will be a man in a white coat sitting in a comfrotable armchair, there will be his diplomas on the wall and he will be asking a lot of personal things not saying anything about himself, typing it at one time. Does this document prevent things like this? I am not sure. I would be very happy, if Czech Republic would join or at least find some inspiration in the discussion about recovery in UK that is well captured for example by the Consensus statement of UK Drug Policy Commission. And maybe we could also get some inspiration from the people that we are trying to offer the care to. I have already cited here that guy who was using meth for two years and never went to any service, but here it is again:

"It should have more trustworthy and consultation face, that they would more likely provide them with consultation than with treatment. Or that they would help them. To offer help, not treatment. Because everyone would be afraid of that."

"…mělo by se to tvářit důvěryhodně a poradensky, že by jim tam spíš poradili, než je nějak léčili. Nebo že jim pomůžou. Nabízet pomoc a ne léčení. Protože toho se každej bude určitě bát.“

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

How to start when you´ve stopped?

„You may start taking drugs with others, but to stop taking drugs, you must do it just on your own,“ one girl from my research project said. I think this is an interesting idea not only for the people that are quitting regular methamphetamine use without any formal treatment (which was my concern in the project) but for all the people who want to quit illicit drug use and maybe any kind of harmful behaviour. However, we have to consider the phrase „on your own“ in more detail.

The point is, that the actual exit from the regular use of meth (if we take it as an example) can be facilitated by various circumstances: you can be arrested, your parents may give you your „last chance“ before kicking you out, you may appear at the detox unit, your dealer is out of town or in prison, your friends left,… there are many options. That certainly does not mean that you will stop using forever. Even if you are not using, you may be attached to the image of the drug in your mind and wait as long as the restriction will last. On the other side, there may be much space now for the other things to attach to.

One of the „things“ you may be attached to, is actually „yourself“. You may start an inner dialogue not only with „you as a junkie“ but also with your other possible selves. Your past selves, your future selves. Since these selves themselves were created with other people, these are actually their voices that resonate in your head. This period is really not very pleasant. There is a lot of blame, a lot of fear, a lot of guilt. As one of my informants puts it:

„…(as the bunch of friends broke up) …I started to spend more and more time just with myself and the feel of blame started to penetrate through me. That I really… hurt a lot of people… especially my mother, during the time she had to care about my little sister and had a lot of troubles, she had to have trouble because of me. There was gold, money, disappearing from the house. So as I was just with myself, I started to hate myself. And I knew that I have to do something. That I will either leave the house or I will kick the habit.“

Still, in the inner dialogue, a nucleus of a new self may start to be created. This is how I interpret the common statements of my informants who said that it had to be first of all „their own decision“: as a decision coming from the inner dialogue. Not from the dialogue with the parent, treatment provider, prison officer, friend or anyone else, even if their presence may be very important in this decision. The „I“ which comes from this inner dialogue is not more real or more true than those that come from the other dialogues but it is definitely most close to the person and spends with her/him most of the time. This is the start of the process of the new self development which necessarily requires the other people who confirm and support this self.

So, what I read in the interviews is that there is always this „new self-birth“ needed if the actual quit from regular drug use is to be maintained for longer time. It may take several months or even years until this moment. During the time, the person may be preserved in some reality that is imposed to her but that she does not accept as her own. Then, the „relapse“ can be as immediate as the new chance to take the drug. Of course, the new self is not a guaranty of success but it seems that it is the necessary condition for stepping forth.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Uncertainty is always present: story from Brno

What a strange coincidence! Yesterday, I was working on the analysis of interview with Lucie (24), girl who stopped using meth three years ago, nowadays has two children with her husband (who also took part in my research) and cooperates with our organisation Podane Ruce in Brno. Few hours after I finished the analysis, my colleague phoned me and as one of the most important news she mentioned that Lucie started to use meth again. Suddenly, she took all the money she could and ran away from their home. Filip (it is a pseudonym of her husband) had then a phone call from his friend who told him that Lucie is in a bar, totally stoned.

My first feelings were simple sadness: I know the whole family, I know that they have been having quite hard time these days because their rent of their flat was at the end. And I know that this current situation is going to be really hard time for Filip and his two children.

Today, I started to look at the situation as a researcher. I don´t use the concept of addiction as an illness in my study so I do not perceive Lucie as having a chronical disease and her current behavior as the recidivism of the disease. So how could I interprete this from the framework of social construction which I use?

My basic assumption is that abandoning a long-term regular drug use usually involves a major shift within one´s identity that can be captured even as an identity transformation. For maintaining the change the person needs a continuous presence of significant others who are capable to confirm and preserve his/her new roles and provide support to the new identity. This identity is further developed through the everyday activities in which one is involved and places where one stays. In addition to this, the person needs to have access to a symbolic universe (term of sociologists Berger and Luckmann) that will provide the overall explanation and legitimation of the life and world as a whole including the life of the individual.

Everything seemed to be present in Lucie´s life. Her husband, children, her friends and people from our organisation including some ex-users, a Catholic priest and a nun formed her basic social network. She had a job and she volunteered in a drug-prevention program. Most of the time she spent with her children at home or in a park. These are her words:

„I have a job, so the life already makes sense to me. I used to perceive this as a stereotype before … in fact, what I was doing before was stereotype: still thinking just where to go to sleep, where to get a next fix, every day the same. And now I perceive this life as kind of joy, I can decide, I can think about what to do, I can choose. At once I have so many options!“

However, when she and the whole family started to be in danger of losing a place to live, she left home and returned to her old identity. In fact, when we consider the gender roles in our society, she took the risk of being stigmatized much more than if Filip would do it – common sense here is that she, as a mother, is supposed to stay with her kids. So the question could stay: why it was her and not Filip who started to use again, even when Filip used meth much longer than her?

One of the possible answer lies in the development of symbolic universe. Filip was raised in a Christian family and after he stopped using meth he adopted this symbolic universe (based in Christianity) again, just within another, maybe more suitable, social network. He was mentioning it several times during our interview. Lucie was raised in a family which did not function really good, the only important person she mentioned was her grandfather who died when she was 14. After she stopped using, she started to visit the Christian events with Filip, but she was not mentioning this symbolic universe in our interview as a significant for her.

In this perspective, Filip´s identity seems to be more fixed and resistant towards changes including unpleasant situations. So, even if there is an existential danger present in his life, he still has a God and the values and moral imperatives that evolves from his faith. On the contrary, Lucie´s identity is more flexible, open to many possibilities, one of which was the return to regular methamphetamine use. In fact, most of the postmodern thinkers talk about today´s situation as supporting these flexible and fluid types of identities which are more suitable for the fast changing life in today´s society. But since family is a pre-modern and modern product, it applies for identities that are more fixed.

This is just one of the possible interpretation. Maybe, if Filip would speak English and would read this blog, he could decide that he would do everything just opposite to this theory. Fortunately, unlike medical discourse, social constructionist perspective do not have ambitions to make any predictions. The social life is subject to continuous interpretation and re-interpretation. That´s why we can be witnesses of such stories as this one. Hopefully the continuation of it will be more positive for all actors.

Monday, 14 July 2008


I have not posted for so long time! Mainly it was because I was in Mexico for some time and wanted to take an internet holiday. After coming back I had quite a lot of work here and since I am still not able to write in English very quickly, it took me so much time…

The trip to Mexico was significant in relation with this blog for two reasons: 1) I had very good discussions at Kanankil Institute in Merida about the substance abuse field and 2) I started to smoke again. Both these events stimulated even more my thinking about CHANGE in general – about its forms, purpose for change, perspective from which change is perceived.

It was even in Austin airport when I had the first cigarette after six weeks of not smoking. In fact, I was considering to smoke in Mexico before – cigarettes are connected mostly with relax for me and I was expecting real relax there. What is more important, my approach to substance use is not medical one. I do not believe that addiction is an illness. I think that I can change everyday long – term behavior such as smoking by myself and that the only option for result does not involve pure abstinence until the end of my life. (I am hearing the voices of abstinence-oriented in-depth therapists or counselors shouting: YOU ARE JUST RATIONALIZING!!! and of the ex-smokers: WE ALL WANTED TO BE CONTROLLED USERS AT FIRST PLACE!!!)

What was causing troubles for me when I have been smoking everyday, was the feeling that I MUST smoke every day. I think it was not even a taste for nicotine, it was a strong commitment to regular smoking. I had to HAVE cigarettes by myself – sometimes, in the night, I found that I do not have cigarettes any more and I went out and was looking for a place where I could buy it. And, I confess, when I was younger and did not have money, I was even searching for cigarette butts in the streets. Interestingly, when I finally bought the cigarettes, the strongest taste for it was away…

When I came to U.S., it was my first attempt to stop smoking ever. But the sole term „stop smoking“ is influenced by the illness narrative and the only response for this striving is not to smoke even one cigarette. But I think, humans are able to do more choices: for me, the desired result would be if I wouldn´t feel stucked in smoking – I would like to have a freedom in decision when to smoke and when not. I would like to try it. The last time I have smoked was Cancun airport 10 days ago. But my return back to Czech Republic will be more important. So far, I made one decision: I do not want to smoke every day neither in U.S., nor in Czech Republic or Mexico. I will let you know.