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Quitting: Kicking a bad habit

“I had to do it for myself,” A said. “Everyone kept telling me I needed to quit smoking. That just made me smoke more.” She was smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, even working at a no-smoking workplace. “I was a chain smoker.” Smoking helped her to deal with the stress in her life. But she started to feel like something wasn’t quite right in her chest.

“I decided I had to quit.” She went to her doctor and confided her desire to quit, no easy thing for a girl who started smoking when she was a teenager, hiding it from her parents. The younger a person starts to smoke, the harder it is to quit. It’s been reported that the younger girls have the hardest time quitting smoking. Her doctor prescribed something to help her and told her, “Pick a day to quit.”

Today, July 25, 2020, is the one-year mark for A being tobacco free.

“There still are times when I think I have to go smoke and then I remember, ‘No, I don’t do that anymore.'” She feels better, healthier, and she doesn’t miss the smells of tobacco smoke on her clothes, in her hair, in her car or her home.

There is more at risk than “just” dying. There are more risks than “just” cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dedicates a portion of that website to the stories of people who have quit smoking and they are not pretty. They are not intended to be scare tactics. They are intended to be warnings to others about what can happen. Of course, young people think they are invincible and people in general think “it” will never happen to them. But sometimes, it does.

Rebecca C. smoked 26 years. She was diagnosed with Buerger’s disease, which the CDC says is almost exclusively linked to tobacco use. All five toes of her right foot were amputated because the damage was too great to restore the health of the toes. No more pretty shoes, sandals or flip-flops for her. And she wants others to know she never dreamed that such a thing could happen to her.

Christine B. had three bouts of oral cancer that then spread to her jaw. “Doctors had to remove half of her jaw.” She lost her teeth. And her long, dark hair cannot hide the changes to the contours of her face. She wants others to know she never expected this to happen to her. And it can happen to others.

The late actor Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock) quit smoking when his first grandchild was born. But it was too late. COPD claimed his life in 2015. He grew weaker, even as he was managing his COPD symptoms. He could not recover from infections and he was hospitalized several times before his death.

From a personal point of view, Dad was a personable kind of person. He smoked for many years. And when he had a hip joint replacement in 1986 his lungs were in such bad condition that a local anesthetic was used because if he had been anesthetized during the surgery, he likely would not have come out of the surgery alive. We made many trips to the emergency room with him, each time fearing that it would be the last trip. He always ended up being admitted for a week’s stay to stabilize him. Often it was very difficult for him to walk from the living room to the bathroom and still breathe comfortably. And he regretted smoking all of those years. He had to use a breathing machine several times a day. And if he traveled, he had to take the nebulizer and medications with him. He required a low dose of prednisone daily until the end of his life. We all miss him.

Congratulations on one year tobacco free, A!

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded in part by Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

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