When Dave Lewers picked up his first cigarette at the age of 13, he never imagined that it would lead to an almost 40-year-long addiction.
The VOCEC affirmative business support worker says he quit a total of 7 times since he started smoking in his adolescence – abstaining for up to two years at a time – but says he often turned back to the habit when life threw him an unexpected curve.
“For me a cigarette was a calming thing. Even though it physically raised my blood pressure and my heart rate, the nicotine was helpful in calming me down. But I’m on to it now,” he said with a laugh. “Before I quit this time, I was spending about $300 a month (on cigarettes). The money was a big motivator to quit. That and the issues I was having with my breathing.”
Last fall, while scrolling through his Facebook newsfeed, Dave learned about a 10-week smoking cessation program called STOP being offered to Providence Care staff and clients through the KFL&A Public Health Unit. Dave knew he wanted to quit smoking for good but wasn’t having any long-term success quitting on his own. He decided to reach out for help.
After attending a day-time information session at the health unit, Dave was accepted into the 10-week STOP program. He was given five weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy and access to a smoker’s hotline that he could call anytime he needed encouragement. The health unit also called Dave once a week, at his convenience, to check in on his progress. To him, the talk therapy seemed to be the most critical aspect to his success. He also found comfort in chewing on whole sunflower seeds, which mitigated the hand-to-mouth cravings he was having.
“My official quit date was Oct. 7, 2016,” he said proudly. “I have never tried a program like this before and I highly recommend it. I really looked forward to the calls from the program because it was helpful to have someone checking in on me that was knowledgeable and supportive.”
When asked if he had any advice for long-term smokers also looking to quit, Dave stressed the importance of having a plan and setting a date to quit.
“It’s such a gripping habit but at a certain point after you quit, you really do feel free,” he said. “I say, better late than never.”
Providence Care is providing a variety of resources to its staff and clients to assist in their goal to quit smoking. Confidential consultations with Occupational Health Services are available for all staff by contacting 613-548-7222, ext. 2260. Employees can also access support through the Employee and Family Assistance Program at 1-800-663-1142 or the KFL&A Public Health unit at 613-549-1232 ext. 1333.
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Server 2016 Hyper-V Experts