Raymond Morgan, a 30-year veteran respiratory therapist at Mission Hospital McDowell, understands his patients’ struggle to give up smoking.
“At work I see about a dozen critically ill patients per day with conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and lung or airway cancers. I know what smoking and other environmental factors do to patients every day,” said Morgan.
Women smokers are 13 times and men smokers are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers. Smokers are also 13 times more likely to develop lifelimiting COPD.
“You have to want this out of your life.”
Morgan knows the stats, but ignored them personally. Before he quit smoking nearly two years ago, he had smoked for 42 years. He relied on medicine to help control urges. “It wasn’t the first time I’ve quit, but it was my last time,” he said.
Morgan was able to quit smoking within three weeks with help from Mission Health’s Nicotine Dependence Program. With the right motivation, the program helped him kick the nicotine habit.
Now Morgan uses his experiences to help others. By knowing nicotine addiction personally, he’s more familiar with his patients’ struggles and shares how he’s managed quitting to help them.
Morgan suggests having a good strong reason for quitting. “I wanted to be an example for my teenage son and to be around for my family a while longer,” he said. “You have to want this out of your life,” said Morgan, who repeats the catchphrase “I just don’t do that anymore” when the urge to smoke strikes.
Morgan also recommends avoiding situations where smoking is a norm and changing old routines to no longer include smoking. He stopped taking long car rides for a while, for example, because his habit was to chain smoke in the car.
Now that he’s feeling better physically, Morgan is getting back to nature. He and his family are getting back into kayaking together. “I enjoy seeing everything nature has to throw out at me,” said Morgan. “I just love being outside.”
3 Things that Lead to Quitting Success
“We think a person has the skills in them already to quit nicotine addiction, and we help them find those skills and lead them through, based on their own motivation,” said Gretchen Heacock, wellness solutions specialist with Mission Health’s Nicotine Dependence Program.
1. One-on-one Cessation Counseling. This is one of the area’s only programs offering intensive cessation counseling with a certified tobacco treatment specialist. “More intensive counseling is shown to lead to better outcomes,” said Heacock.
2. Evidence-based Best Practices. “We stay up to date on the latest research and practices in nicotine research recovery, and that helps us guide patients to greater success,” said Heacock.
3. Judgment-free Zone. Most people relapse 6 to 8 times before finally quitting for life. “We meet our patients where they are and understand the journey of what it looks like to quit,” said Heacock. “We don’t look at any patient as a smoker, but as a person who smokes. We know this addiction can be overcome.”
Gretchen Heacock is a wellness solutions specialist with Mission Health’s Nicotine Dependence Program.