Giving up smoking


Age at interview: 64

Brief outline: Neil, 64, gave up smoking when he was 63. Neil is White British, married and lives with his wife. He has now stopped smoking after many years of trying and having several health problems. Neil started smoking when he was 7. He developed into a heavy smoker and smoked 60 a day at his peak. Neil had a series of health problems, including blocked arteries in his legs and neck, quadruple by-pass surgery and a stroke. He gave up with the help of hypnosis.

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Neil started smoking when he was 7 and by the time he was 12 he smoked 5 a day. He used to pinch his Dad’s cigarettes, and he remembers being able to buy a cigarette and a match for about a penny at the local shop. At school he says they used to smoke behind the bike shed, and he can remember being caned at school when he was caught. He talks about starting as an apprentice in a job where he would clean cars and unload lorries, and remembers he would be ‘dying for a fag’ afterwards. His mother didn’t smoke and now, looking back, he can’t remember a lot of women who did.

Neil smoked for 44 years in total and has suffered numerous health problems associated with smoking. At the peak he was smoking around 60 cigarettes a day. Neil remembers ‘doing himself a favour’ by smoking the low-tar cigarettes. He had blocked arteries in his legs, and was told he might need surgery; then he had a quadruple heart by-pass. He says that after this operation as soon as he could walk he went to have a cigarette. He claims that the first cigarette was like ‘heaven’ until his system was ‘back used to them’. Neil says that the health service staff ‘knew’ about his smoking so ‘didn’t ask’. Then, about six months later, he had a stroke. Neil says that it was the stroke that affected him the most as his Dad had died of a stroke. After numerous times trying to quit smoking, he decided to ‘blitz it’ by having varenicline tablets (Champix) from the doctor and having hypnotism. Since then he has never touched a cigarette.

Neil tried many different ways to give up. He used silver nitrate mouthwash which made cigarettes taste ‘foul’ and so never used it again as he wanted to smoke. Stress was a major factor in making him start smoking again. Neil tried to use nicotine replacement patches but he found that his skin reacted badly to them. He talks about how he ended up in bed for two days as he had continued to smoke whilst taking the high dose nicotine patches and was suffering from ‘nicotine poisoning’. He tried to quit using some tablets and says he was ‘totally out of the game’ - i.e. felt disorientated - and had to come off them straightaway. Neil says that after two hypnotism sessions he was ‘cured’ and was ‘no longer an addict’. He was so convinced that he threw all the Varenicline tablets away. Neil thinks that what did it was being reminded of when he was young and fit and noticing the difference. He went to rehab and was supported by his cardiac nurse, and found that everyone in the group had been a smoker.

Since then he has joined a gym, started working out, and found that his blood pressure and his cholesterol have come down. He has also had chelation treatment to try to rectify the problems that smoking has given him. He couldn’t walk at one stage but this is improving – all of which he attributes to the chelation treatment. He also thinks this is why he hasn’t needed the bypass operation for his groin. He is now looking after his health more, he is taking vitamins, and eating healthily, although cutting down on sugar and salt is hard. Neil finds it hard going away on holiday now, because the insurance is so high. Other than being ‘chuffed’, he doesn’t feel any different in himself, but notices that he isn’t as wrinkly as he was when he was smoking. He has put on a little bit of weight. Neil now wonders why it took him so long to stop and is proud of himself for stopping. Neil loathes cigarettes and is now an ‘anti-smoker’.


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