Stoptober: hear from Patrick, Martin and Richard | Our blog

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The Maudsley Blog

Stoptober: hear from Patrick, Martin and Richard

To round off the Stoptober campaign, we are sharing three more stories. This time, we hear from Patrick, Martin and Richard. Patrick sets out what it’s like to support people to give up smoking as a Tobacco Dependence Advisor with our Trust, and Martin and Richard explain how they feel about stopping smoking. Our SmokeFree Team supports people to quit smoking throughout the year, find out more here

Patrick’s story

The Stoptober campaign has always been a fantastic opportunity to highlight the work undertaken across the Trust. It’s aim to raise awareness of the harms caused through tobacco smoking, engage in conversation, and promote the provision of treatment.

Although the aim of Stoptober is to support those to quit in October, it can equally be useful to engage clients that approach you and to answer questions.

People present at various stages of motivation and with this comes differing aims and priorities for them. There may be those ready to quit with certainty and wanting to quit through abrupt cessation, stopping suddenly. There are others who may want to reduce the amounts they smoke to then go on to quit. Some may wish for a reduction without quitting.  And then there are those that may just want to try it out given the opportunity the promotion has provided and see how they manage. For those not ready to address the tobacco dependence, it has provided the opportunity to meet with you and they become aware. All are useful scenarios.

Motivation can be subject to change during treatment and may take on many twists and turns based on life events or emotions that can occur for that individual at various intervals. The treatment is based on product selection, reviewing of the treatment type, and working with a behavioural approach to facilitate change.  For some, tobacco use may predate the use of alcohol or substances, and some speak of the difficulty in overcoming this. They may be managing other addictions and trying to overcome these whilst using tobacco also. They may find that tackling the tobacco habit instils belief on addressing other addiction types or they may find it too overwhelming to make too many changes at once. Ending tobacco dependence is an individual journey.

Many talk about the physical acts that smoking has created and want to replicate this and find the e-cigarette a suitable replacement. Some may want to move away from the hand to mouth action and choose an alternative treatment type from the Nicotine Replacement Therapy range such as the wearing of a patch, the use of sprays, gum, or lozenges.

The reported benefits of stopping are many; improved circulation, breathing easier and feeling more energetic, coughing less, improved sense of taste and smell and healthier skin. These all-positive changes take place in the first twelve weeks of treatment and further health benefits continue. Highlighting the health improvements with physical aids and visual displays is integral to promoting health change.

There are many key factors within the treatment. It is useful to know your triggers and have in a place a craving management plan and develop distraction techniques.  Smoking is not just about the nicotine; it is linked with behaviours and rituals.  For those that wish to quit it can be useful to look at refusal skills and promote confidence in declining tobacco from others.

We have an in-house lung health clinic that clients can be referred for measurement of lung capacity.  It provides a wonderful opportunity to raise the topic of tobacco dependence and provide insight to the harms caused in addition to other smoked inhaled substances.

One common theme is to feel encouraged and supported. The NHS Quit Smoking app is also useful for additional support. For others having a carbon monoxide reading taken at appointment reinforces the progress they have made, and they enjoy attending for this aspect of the treatment. 

October is a valuable month for tobacco treatment but so too are the other eleven in the year. Every discussion had is an important one.  Keep making those referrals and help with bringing positive changes to people’s lives.

Martin’s story

I started smoking at the age of eight or nine years old copying my older brother and father.

Fast forward 40 years later, I find the smoking cessation clinic at Lorraine Hewitt House. The reason I joined the smoking cessation clinic was because I genuinely wanted to stop smoking as I could feel the decades of smoking had impacted my health. I chose to start with an e-cigarette as it was so simple, and straight away I had no issues as you inhale with it the same way you would when smoking a cigarette. When my time with the clinic came to an end, I had reduced my use of vapes down to one device a day which makes a massive difference.

Everyday, I notice the difference in my health as I live in a third floor flat and when smoking on reaching my front door I would stand at the door for a few minutes catching my breath. Whereas now, as somebody who vapes, I reach the third floor and just walk straight in without gasping for air. Not to mention I don’t stink of tobacco anymore and I have a much better sense of taste and smell since vaping.

Currently I am trying to reduce the amount of devices I use over the week with the eventual aim of stopping vaping, but that’s way in the future.

Richard’s story

So, how do I give up smokingWhy should I give up smokingDo I really want to give up smoking? What will the benefits of giving up smoking really be to me? Am I really doing myself that much harm by smoking? 

Just a case of weighing up the positives against the negatives.

For me that was really quite simple. By continuing smoking, I am literally burning money doing something that 90% of the time I don't actually enjoy or even particularly like that much, it's just a habit and an addiction. Only a very few cigarettes do I actually think, "I really enjoyed that" and even then, not that much. 

So, I'm burning money doing something that I don't really enjoy that much whilst playing a potentially fatal game of Russian roulette with my health.  

So, in my head there's not much in favour of continuing smoking, so far. 

As far as I can see there is only one good argument for smoking, (if you are aware of all of the facts about smoking and the health and financial consequences associated with smoking), "I just really love and enjoy smoking, it gives me such a huge amount of pleasure and I couldn't possibly replace it with anything else." 

Then the question remains, can I actually do it though? Actually give it up. 

Well it's then simple then: have a go. One thing is certain, it's not going to kill you to just have a go.

Except for one thing, I'm a recovering alcoholic and smoking is the one last little bit of rebellious pleasure that I have left. 

In truth I wouldn't have come to the decision, at this time, to give up smoking, if I hadn't, eight months ago, called time on my destructive relationship with alcohol. That's a very long story but I am currently eight months sober and am loving and enjoying every day of my liberation and the freedom that I am now blessed with.

So why not give up smoking too, another challenge and more freedom too?

Those close to me were not so convinced, "don't put that extra pressure on yourself", was the message. Not to do anything that could possibly jeopardise my recovery. 

So great, I can 'have a go' at giving up smoking with no pressure and no expectation.

What then worked for me was engaging on the 12-week supported programme. Checking in every two weeks and formulating a strategy and goal for the next two weeks. Keeping a daily smoking diary and formulating small strategies to work within and alongside my diary, setting a target to be aimed at for the next two weekly check in was a massive incentive. That thing that we all love getting, praise for doing well, in this instance was coming from my counsellor when reporting in at our two-weekly meeting, that's important. 

A great incentive and a great idea was to come up with something that would allow me to see and be able to visualise how much money this was all saving me, not smoking a packet of cigarettes a day, at about £15 a packet. So, I bought a big glass jar to put that money into, so that I could see it every day. So every day, in the same way as would go to buy a packet of cigarettes, instead I now go to the cashpoint and draw out £20 and put it into my glass jar, it soon builds up.

So far I haven't looked back, I don't miss cigarettes, it didn't kill me to 'have a go' and the jar just keeps on filling up!!! 

A compilation of photos showing money filling up in a savings jar