Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I wrote this paper for my Substance Abuse Counseling Class. Basically, we have to abstain from something we like all semester. I chose...peanut butter.

Yes, I am actually handing this paper in tonight. Hope you enjoy my "academic" side.

To begin this experiential reflection assignment, I will share that I am not ready or willing to give up the only two “vices” I have. I am a highly caffeinated smoker and although I am not proud of this, I’m also not in a place where I am able to stop either “addiction.” With my current work, school and internship obligations, these two substances keep me going, when the going is getting rough.
I know eventually, I can end these habits. I can go a day here and there without consuming caffeine. Sometimes, I get a nasty headache towards the middle to end of the day if I have not had any. After successfully quitting (again) I have recently began smoking cigarettes, despite my better judgement. Cigarettes have a calming response for me; they are an old friend that doesn’t talk back or cause me trouble. They sometimes suppress my appetite. They enhance the effects of alcohol when I go out for a drink with my friends. I do not drink very often anymore. In fact, the thought of giving up alcohol briefly crossed my mind but I wanted to abstain from something meaningful in my life and really get an understanding of addiction from this assignment.
I just can not give up the two most unhealthy and detrimental substances in my life right now. I lack the willpower and the desire. Consequently, I am abstaining from peanut butter for the entire semester. Peanut butter is another substance that brings me joy, so I will test my ability to cut it out of my life for the next three months or so.
Why Peanut Butter?
I consume peanut butter on a regular basis. I choose to do it by the tablespoon. I eat it for breakfast, on whole wheat wraps or in my oatmeal. I add to soy sauce to make a protein filled flavorful sauce for my vegetables during dinner. I like candy and chocolate with peanut butter as an ingredient. I put peanut butter on celery and apples for snack. If I have extra Weight Watchers POINTSTM left over for the day or just feel like it, sometimes I will dip my spoon into the jar. Just for fun.
My peanut butter of choice is Smucker’s Brand All Natural Reduced Fat Peanut Butter. It has a saltier flavor, with the natural oils still floating in the jar and it has little lumps of the peanuts still in it. The smell and taste of peanut butter make me happy. I think about peanut butter when I wake up in the morning, before I prepare my breakfast. I feel cravings for it sometimes. I can imagine the taste and the texture without having any in front of me. Peanut butter, while a relatively healthy food item, is a foreign substance that I consume even though I don’t necessarily need it.
To be honest, I am not looking forward to giving up my peanut butter. I rely on peanut butter for a quick meal or snack in between one of the many places I go during the week. A jar of it can last for several weeks, providing nutrition and a source of comfort and protein for me. It’s relatively inexpensive to obtain and very easy to find it in supermarkets and convenience stores.
I am nervous about when I need something quick to eat or I am craving it. Nothing will compare to peanut butter for me. I have a feeling I will substitute it for another spreadable food, much like an addict may use another substance to deter them from using the one the typically pick up. I am thinking humus will suffice for lunch and maybe Nutella spread can cover breakfast.
I have even gone as far as to throw out the jar of it that I had in my refrigerator. I plan on taking this assignment very seriously. Especially, because I believe it will help me to better understand the population I am working with at my internship with inpatient addicts at Conifer Park.
I think it will be quite funny to talk about it in class, as well as to participate in “check-ins” about how we are progressing with our abstinence goal. This will also be a weird source of humor, when I have to attend AA/NA meetings in the community. While I will be thinking about my peanut butter, they are discussing serious addictions like cocaine, meth and heroin.
After re-reading this paper, I can say that I’m either really crazy or very creative. Maybe both? I was able to compare and describe my love of peanut butter to an addict’s need for drugs or alcohol. I plan to take this assignment very seriously. I know that relapse is part of recovery and I fully expect to dabble in my peanut butter “problem.” Hopefully someday I will be able to successfully quit smoking. I’m thinking that day will be AFTER May of 2009 when I walk across the stage and grab that master’s degree out of someone’s hand.


tokaiangel said...

I think this is a cool idea - like you say, it will lighten the mood when you're tackling very heavy issues with IP addicts.

As for the smoking - there will come a time when you feel ready for it! I'm 90% non-smoker now, I never thought I'd even get this far - I needed a stress free period of my life to do it in though!

TA x

Charlie Hills said...

Oh man, that's a big, brave step. I share this peanut butter addiction. The Butter's always been one of my bigger weaknesses. It's not unusual to find a big jar of it on my desk at work. In fact, "on my desk" is where it spends the least amount of time as I typically keep the jar strapped on my muzzle like a feedbag, much to the alarm of my co-workers.

Rockin Austin said...

I'm with you and charlie hills, I'm a peanut butter addict. I love it. Good luck and we'll be here to support you when you fall.

I found you through MizFit and have really enjoyed my morning jaunts over here!

The Mandapants said...

Interesting post! Proud of you for not giving up things that would endanger your sanity.

My vice? Diet Coke. No way would I give it up. *hoards DC in corner*

Tricia said...

Nice post. I'm currently trying to give up Diet Coke, and I'm 80% Diet Coke free.

Mark Salinas said...

Peanut butter is da goods! :)

MizFit said...

I vote for creative.
and am assuming that PB2 counts there as well, yes?

I could give up the butter in a heartbeat---popcorn? movie style? no way.