Stoptober: Karen celebrates a smoke-free year

Posted: September 22, 2022

Karen is urging other Derby smokers to join the Council’s Livewell service for help.

When Karen Newsham lost her job just over a year ago, she realized she needed to quit so she could put food on the table for herself and her 19-year-old son.

Smoking 40 cigarettes a day for 41 years, Karen had tried countless times to quit over the years but always relapsed.

The 51-year-old from Alvaston celebrates a year smoke-free with free support and treatment from Livewell and urges people in Derby to join the free service to increase their chances of quitting successfully during stoptober.

The 28-Day Stoptober Challenge takes place in October and is based on research that shows that if you can quit smoking for 28 days, you’re five times more likely to be quit smoking for good. And people who receive expert support from local quit smoking services like Livewell are up to three times more likely to succeed.

Karen explains why she decided to quit and talks about the support she received:

With a dependent son still in college and rising bills, quitting smoking was really important to our family’s income.

I have fibromyalgia, chronic kidney disease (CKD) and climbing stairs left me out of breath. Even without the financial pressures, it was a good time to quit.

I had previously used a quit smoking drug called Champix with support from Livewell, so I was concerned that the treatment was no longer available. I had never used nicotine patches before so was reluctant to try.

My advisor, Andy, encouraged me to try them and explained how they could be used in conjunction with other treatments such as a vape that I bought myself.

Andy supported me every step of the way, contacting me regularly at first and then monthly once I was done with the patch course. Just knowing he was there if I needed him kept me going. His texts made me proud and although I didn’t need any support after a few months, it was reassuring to receive a message.

I found ways to beat the cravings and surprised myself at how quickly I felt free from the addiction.

Life is different for me now. I save hundreds of pounds a month which helps pay the bills, I feel better about myself and know my body is repairing itself – I’ve halved my risk of having a heart attack for example.

My family can’t believe I quit smoking but they are so proud. I’m sharing my story to let smokers know that if I can quit after all these years of heavy smoking, so can you. If I inspire just one person to quit a cigarette for good during Stoptober, it will be worth it. There is no turning back for me now!

Livewell Advisor, Andy Varney added:

Karen did incredibly well last year. At first she was nervous about using the patches and her family doubted her, but she showed real determination to quit and not smoke even when her stress levels increased. I’m so happy for Karen and I hope she’s proud of what she’s accomplished.

Inspired to quit?

Livewell is offering free support and up to 10 weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy products (patches, gum, lozenges and mouth spray) to Derby residents. To learn more and make a phone appointment to get started, visit Livestock website.

Karen’s top tips

  • Adopt a hobby to keep your hands busy – I started making bath bombs!
  • Replace your tobacco rewards with something different – I used to light up every time I finished a bit of cleaning, now I enjoy a cup of tea instead.
  • Try relaxation techniques to beat cravings – I do deep breathing exercises for 3-4 minutes.
  • Don’t smoke “just a cigarette”, not even a puff – it will probably make you want to smoke more.
  • Get help – use a service like Livewell and share your stop with family and friends so they can cheer you on. Smokefree also has a Facebook support group.
  • Track your progress – use the NHS quit smoking app to see how much you save and download Livewell Discontinuation Schedule to keep track of your smoke-free days.

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