Sam's Story

Kicking Cigarettes Was Just Next on the Hit-list

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Read how a recovering alcoholic and cannabis user tackled his smoking addiction with vape and addiction counselling support, proving that it is possible to give up if you are willing and ready!

Kicking Cigarettes Was Just Next on the Hit-list

To maintain anonymity, Sam is an alias.

Sam is aged 42, an ex-alcoholic and marijuana addict. He has smoked for 30 years, since the age of 12. Sam has now been sober for 18 months, he quit drinking the day before he started a recovery program for addictions in High Wycombe and has now achieved 6 months free from smoking marijuana.

Asked why Sam wanted to quit smoking, he stated “Smoking is just another thing on the ‘hit-list’”. He knew he had to be ready before making a quit attempt, as he failed to give up alcohol before he was ‘ready’. “You have to be in a certain frame of mind to be able to summon the will-power and commitment to tackling addictions”. Sam identified cigarettes as a gateway drug into other bad substances: “It all starts with smoking. Most people who have addictions, normally will tell you they smoke and that it can lead one thing onto the next”.

Sam has been to prison for a short-term sentence, it made him think that he needed to tackle his addictions, which got him there in the first place. Sam’s biggest fears were returning to prison and having COPD. “Regarding prison, it was a very rough place and I just don’t want to end up being unable to move around and having to have tubes in me for the rest of my life. That terrifies me”.

After deciding that he was going to make a quit attempt, Sam opted for vaping as his aide. Initially, he was cautious about vaping, but went ahead with it as his form of nicotine replacement. Rather than a substitute for smoking, Sam was clear that the vape was only ever going to be a quitting tool and nothing more. Adamant that he doesn’t want to vape forever, Sam has set a plan for reducing his dosage: 12mg, to 11, 9, 6, 3 and then eventually 0mg.

Sam has tackled smoking, by replacing certain cigarettes with the ‘vape’, before eventually removing cigarettes all together. The cigarettes he regarded as ‘important’, such as the first in the morning and around meals times were the some of the first ones to go. He acknowledged that these were heavily cue-based and that they were more of a ritual than the actual craving.  By taking these out of his routine, Sam has removed the ‘importance’ of cigarettes and reduced it to a nicotine dependence.

Sam had a short lapse, smoking a few cigarettes, when the vaping coil broke and declared them as tasting disgusting! Sam hated the horrible taste in his mouth and could instantly smell how horrible it was. This was when he knew, it wasn’t about the cigarettes – it was simply about craving nicotine. So he concluded that vaping was a good tool for tackling cigarettes, as you can avoid 95% of the harm and as long as you are prepared in the event of running out of liquid/broken coils (thus avoiding lapses!), it can be an effective tool.

At the time of this interview, Sam had only had 4 cigarettes in 3 weeks as a result of the one lapse.

Here are some of the beneficial effects Sam talked about:

  • He can breathe easier;
  • Notably increased stamina;
  • No chest pains;
  • His teeth look better already;
  • There’s no ash on his clothes or around the house;
  • His sense of smell is coming back in an incredible way;
  • But most importantly of them all – he doesn’t stink!

Sam has nearly managed to kick 3 addictions in less than 2 years. A massive achievement, on any scale.

Asked about the effect on his finances, his face lit up! “I used to by a 25g pouch of tobacco every 3 days and I am already seeing the savings! You think buying roll-ups is saving you money, but it’s nothing compared to actually quitting! Everything else seems more affordable now like haircuts and other day-to-day things. It’s not just about what you can treat yourself with!”

Overall, Sam feels the most important factor to quitting smoking is to first make sure that you are ready. “The first time I tried to give up alcohol, I wasn’t ready and the attempt was a complete failure and I knew that smoking would not be any different. Once you are ready, just make sure you are well prepared for any ‘hiccups’ and that you keep reminding yourself why you want to quit”

What are your motivating factors? Family? Health? Money? Whatever they are, just remember that the benefits of quitting are well worth the effort!