After several attempts, Luke found a quitting method that worked for him.
Luke has struggled with his mental health most of his life, but worked hard to take back control. However, he used smoking as a way of managing his stress. The imminent arrival of his youngest son gave him the motivation to take control of his smoking too.
“I properly started smoking when I was about 12. I was hanging around with older kids and had a part-time job, so I could afford to buy cigarettes. It felt rebellious, and we didn’t think of the dangers and health implications back then. It got to a point that I was smoking up to 20 cigarettes a day.”
Luke’s first quit attempt was at 19. He decided that he wanted to stop and opted for the cold turkey approach, which worked initially, But he then found himself in a social situation where other people were smoking and temptation was just too much. Since then there have been other quit attempts, using vapes, patches and gum, but he was always drawn back in.
It can take several attempts before you successfully quit. The trick is to keep trying.
“When I found out my partner was pregnant, I was really motivated to have another go at stopping smoking. I went to my GP who referred me to Smokefree Sheffield. I gave them a call, and we discussed all the different methods to help with my quit attempt.
“Because I’d tried most methods on my own and always went back to smoking, I wanted something different. My advisor told me about stop smoking medication. I’d never even heard of this, so I was willing to listen.”
Luke has lived with ADHD since a young age and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder while at university. He has always been very creative, enjoying drawing, design and performance, as well as having an interest in film and the creative industries.
While, these interests provided an outlet for his feelings, the medication prescribed for his bipolar disorder muted his creativity leaving Luke feeling frustrated. He demonstrated inner strength to wean himself off the medication, and adopted a cognitive behaviour therapy approach to manage his condition. However, he used smoking as a way of managing his stress.
“I gave up smoking just before my youngest son was born. I didn’t want him growing up around a smoker, and I didn’t want to miss any time with him because I’d nipped out for a smoke.”
Even if you smoke outside or away from your kids, the harmful chemicals linger on your clothes and in your hair, so when you pick your child up, they breathe in the chemicals as if you were smoking right next to them.
“I also wanted to make sure that the baby had nice things, but realised how expensive everything was. I was spending about £10 a day on cigarettes, and a quick bit of mental maths showed that by saving this, I could quickly have enough to buy what I wanted for the baby. It all made sense.”
“If it wasn’t for the Sheffield Smokefree Service, I wouldn’t have found out about the medication that was available. It gave me new hope having lost faith in the methods that didn’t work for me. And while it was the GP that actually prescribed the medication for me, my stop smoking advisor still followed up with me to make sure I was getting on OK. They made me feel supported, and that somebody cared about my progress.”
Luke has been able to rediscover his creative side and is designing again. This has the added benefit of acting as a distraction when he gets cravings for a cigarette. The CBT he has learnt has given him coping strategies that help manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder and the nicotine cravings.
“I tell myself that when I’m feeling low, it is just a symptom, and I can remind myself of all the good things in my life – it reframes my outlook on life. And when I think about smoking, I remind myself about the motivations why I gave up in the first place.
“I can’t say it was easy. I find many situations stressful, but my family has been really supportive. I’ve now been smokefree for nearly five years, and they’re really proud of me. I’ve even helped to inspire my mum to give up smoking too.
“I try to act as a role model for my kids. I tell them not to even start smoking as it’s really difficult to stop and can easily get out of hand.
“On top of this. I can now use the money I save from not smoking to treat the family whenever I like. We love to travel, and can now afford to visit places we really want to go to.”
If you think that coping with stress could affect a successful quit smoking attempt, the Sheffield Smokefree Service now offers support on stress management to help you get through the difficult times.