Betty's Story

Each of these stories is based on common experiences of people who smoke and try to quit. The names and particulars of the situations are fictional.
Betty's Story
wife, husband and two children with realtor in front of a for sale sign with sold on it

I’ve smoked since I was 13 years old. At least a pack a day for over 30 years. I’ve tried to quit a bunch of times. I’d usually just quit cold turkey for a day or two, and then I’d have to start up again because I would be too cranky with my kids or to do my realtor job.

I have to be able to be pleasant to sell houses. I got more serious about quitting when my kids were teenagers and they started messing around with smoking. What could I say to them, when I kept smoking? I was also getting more and more tired, and the smell of smoke and my coughing was making it harder to sell houses, too.

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So I gave it a couple of more serious tries, and even managed to quit once for a month. That time I used some nicotine gum I bought at the store. It helped a little bit. But I was still struggling with strong urges. I only used it a couple times a day when I was getting desperate, because I was worried that the nicotine could be bad for me.

Just one month after quitting, I was having a drink with a friend on a Friday night, and when she offered me a cigarette, that was it. I smoked it. Since I’d smoked a cigarette, I figured I should stop using the gum. I had failed. I was back to smoking again.

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So I really wanted to quit and stay quit. I was seeing my doctor for a bad cough. She told me she thought it was related to my smoking. She was worried I might be in the early stages of getting COPD, where breathing would get harder and harder. That really woke me up.

She asked if I was interested in quitting, and I got tears in my eyes. I told her how many times I’d tried to quit but started up again and about my kids who were starting to mess around with cigarettes. I told her that I really wanted to quit, but just couldn’t do it no matter how hard I tried. Well, she didn’t start scolding me like I expected. She said quitting can be hard. But she was sure I could do it if I just did a couple things differently.

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After talking with her doctor, Betty decided to try quitting again. She got a prescription for varenicline and took it for 12 weeks. She also called 1-800-QUIT-NOW and got some coaching over the phone. Her doctor saw her once a month to check in on her progress. She did smoke one cigarette at 3 weeks, but she kept using her medicine, called her quit coach, and then stayed quit after that. She has been smoke-free for 6 months!