Stoptober – “Don’t give up on trying to quit smoking”

Posted: 11/10/23

Quitting smoking remains one of the best things someone can do for their health. When you stop smoking, good things start to happen. Quitting will allow you to start moving better, breathe more easily and give you more money to spend. Stoptober offers a range of free quitting tools. Just search ‘Stoptober’ for more information or visit the Better Health Quit Smoking website.

This Stoptober, we’re sharing the journey of a former patient who has stopped smoking:

I am local to Carlisle, but the first signs of my illness formed when I was away from home at university. I returned from university and have been a patient within the community and, for periods, cared for at The Carleton Clinic. I have been a service user for approximately 20 years. In this period, I successfully returned to university and completed a degree studying closer to home.

After withdrawing from my first university course, my cigarette addiction grew from four or five a day to a whole 20-pack. My mental health was poor, and I was back home with my parents looking after me. When I did return to work, I enjoyed the onsite smoking room. The conversation and company at breaktimes made the day fun. When the smoking ban was introduced, I was regularly smoking over fifty a day, which progressed me onto rolling tobacco due to the costs involved. Over the years, at its peak, I could smoke around 100 rollups a day if I went to bed late. I am a proud homeowner who lives alone, so I could enjoy cigarettes indoors as it was my house. When inside the clinic, I didn’t particularly appreciate having to smoke outside. Still, I enjoyed having cigarettes with others as it brought back the smoking room feeling and social interaction within the ward. Again, the fun times on the ward involved socialising with a cigarette.

There are three reasons why I decided to quit: money, appearance, and professionalism. When I was ready to quit, I picked a day that meant something special to me. This was a day after the anniversary of my dad’s death. I still have not smoked since that day, and I am now smoke-free for 295 days. I know this figure as I use the Stoptober app to track my progress. I look at it if I am tempted to smoke, and it is a reminder of how far I have come. The method that has worked for me is e-cigarettes. I have been on and off them for years, but this time, it seems to have clicked, and all is going well. I may decide to come off them in the new year. Over the years, I have tried patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, spray, cold turkey and visiting the smoking nurse. Everyone is different but vapes seem to be the best method for me.

As I felt I had overcome my cigarette addiction, I decided to sit some distance learning qualifications in Understanding Substance Misuse, which I have completed, and the Principles of Addictive Behaviour, which I am still studying. I thought I would like to learn more in this area and would like to hear other people’s case studies. The course also asked me to gather research from friends and family by collecting information in a questionnaire and summarising their responses. Overall, I have enjoyed both courses, and the tuition is based around the user’s perspective and health care setting rather than punishment. Previously, I had only studied drug addiction from the viewpoint of criminal law and criminology.

My mental health is robust, and yes, I do feel better not smoking. My advice to other potential quitters is don’t give up trying to quit. I have gone the longest period without a cigarette since I first tried them at 17. I am still on my quitting journey. Here’s to the next 20 years without them