By: Tammi Meissner, SEARHC Health Educator
WRANGELL, Alaska – Don tried his first cigarette at 17 and experimented with cigarettes because he didn’t want to be an “outcast” from his older friend who smoked. Eventually, Don was smoking 8-10 cigarettes a day and at the age of 29 he decided to quit. He was a successful non-smoker for 8 years. Don became a smoker again when he was 37 and continued until last year when he asked himself, “Why am I doing this? I have a wife and two adult children that need and love me. I want to be here for them longer.”
Don didn’t want to be powerless to tobacco. he knew nicotine was an addiction. Don reached out to a SEARHC co-worker who referred him to Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line. Don received calls from Quit Line coaches who shared ideas and helped him develop a quit plan. He also received nicotine patches to help reduce his urges to smoke.
After using patches for a few months, Don switched to using toothpicks and chewing gum to keep the remaining urges at bay. Don felt supported as Quit Line coaches called him twice weekly. “We discussed possible challenges I could face, they called when they said they would, and gave me pointers on ways to manage urges.” Don also received support from his family and friends.
Now, Don is a non-smoker, and will be tobacco free for one year on November 27th. he is happy his senses of taste and smell have improved and he is no longer powerless to tobacco. Don shared his story to empower other smokers and to praise Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line for their support in his journey.
Don encourages other tobacco users to use the Quit Line. Don says, “First you have to admit nicotine is an addiction and don’t be afraid to ask for help. you don’t have to quit alone.”
Alaskans can call Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or enroll online at http://alaskaquitline.com/. Talking with your doctor about quitting smoking and using FDA-approved cessation medication can increase your chances of success.
American Indians may also call the American Indian Commercial Tobacco Program (AICTP) at 1-855-372-0037 for culturally-tailored help. For more information visit http://www.keepitsacred.itcmi.org/quitline.
Don is Tlingit from Klawock, Alaska.