Counselor’s Advice For People Who Don’t Feel Like Ending Their Smoking Days

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I have a proud friend named Jess who said that he would never ask for help from any of us. We would always ask why, and he would always say that it was not because he was mad at us over something. “I have always been like this, even when my parents were still alive. You know that” he would add.

Of course, it was not for our lack of effort to offer a helping hand to our friend. Even if he would never admit it, his decision to never ask for help from his friends possibly stemmed from the fact that we had been very vocal about our dislike for his smoking habits.

The Story

Jess started smoking at the age of 15. He said that he found a half-smoked cigarette somewhere and thought of taking a puff. He did not feel anything on his first try, so you tried it again – and again – and again – until Jess could no longer get it out of his system.

When I met him in high school, Jess was often hanging out under the bleachers. As you might have guessed, he loved that area because it’s where he could smoke away from the prying eyes. Jess would continue to go there despite having new friends, but it was merely for smoking.

The thing was, Jess even attempted to share his passion for smoking with us. But we would frown at him and tell him to meet us when he was done. Even back then, we knew that second-hand smoking could lead to lung cancer, and we did not want that. As for Jess, he was not worried about that at all.

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Being Adults And Having Adult Problems

Jess’s smoking habit magnified when he started working and had enough money to fund his addiction. From only three to five sticks a day, it became two to three packs of cigarettes every day. You would never see him without a cigarette between his fingers or in his mouth. Jess even learned how to use chopsticks for everything to eat with one hand and smoke with the other. The man was THAT hooked to smoking!

But then, when Jess joined one of our get-togethers, he came with sad news. The doctor found a tumor in his neck, and it had a high potential of becoming cancerous, so the doctor wanted to remove it at once. As he was talking about his woes, though, he was still smoking a cigarette. So, I was like, “Do you know that what’s in your mouth right is possibly the cause of that?”

“Yes, I know, of course,” Jess retorted, rolling his eyes. “But what can I do about it? I love cigarettes; I cannot live without them,” he uttered dramatically.

“Oh, honey, this possible cancer diagnosis should have served as a reality check for you. Smoking is awful for anybody, especially for you,” I uttered.

Jess looked down. “It’s just that whenever I see someone smoking, I feel like doing the same thing,” he reasoned.

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I looked around; I see nobody with a cigarette, even if it was an outdoor restaurant. Sighing, I said, “This is all you now. You need to take care of yourself stat before your condition aggravates.

“How?”

Facing Reality

I could not believe how helpless Jess felt and sounded that day. I mean, he was one of the most intelligent guys I knew. He was excellent at handling money; he was even better at making it. More importantly, Jess was never the type of person to ask for help, and that one-word question sounded very much like it.

When I got over my initial shock, I said, “This is what will happen tomorrow. I will take you to a mental health facility; then, you will talk to a counselor who can help you understand how to stay away from cigarettes long-term. I can tell you everything you need to hear now, but you may not listen to me. Hence, it will do us both a favor if you hear the reality straight from a mental health professional.”

As Jess nodded, I dialed my other friend, who practiced psychology and counseling in the mental health facility downtown, to set up an appointment for him. I picked Jess up from work the next day, and he seemed tense. He was about to roll down my window during a traffic jam to smoke, but I stopped him. To my surprise, he listened. Maybe my friend is not as hopeless as I used to think.

Jess spent a total of two hours in the clinic. When he came out, he was more shaken than tensed, but he still managed to shake the counselor’s hand on his way out.

“So, how did it go?” I asked as soon as we drove away from the facility.

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“Well, as a licensed psychologist and counselor, she was qualified to assess and diagnose my mental health, and it turned out that I had anxiety and dependency issues. I seemed to use smoking as a crutch for a long time, and I would need to stop doing that if I wanted to live more,” Jess uttered slowly.

“How do you feel about it?”

“Honestly, I am unsure yet, but I would like to go back for the real counseling session,” he said.

Final Thoughts

Counseling taught my friend that there were many ways to cope with anxiety and that none of them involved smoking or cigarettes. It came as a shock for him, but he got to embrace the truth eventually.

As of 2021, he has been living without a cigarette for more than five years now – a testament that it is possible to kick the habit.

Counseling For People Who Already Suffer Due To Smoking Habits

My mother had a second cousin named Mila. She was close to the entire family and was lovingly called Mommy Mila by everyone. She was the life of the party and always present on every occasion at my grandparents’ house.

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Mommy Mila was the coolest aunt you could ever find. Wherever we met, she would always give me money for snacks or whatever I wanted to buy. Since she was a home contractor, she opted for a pickup truck instead of a small sedan. If we were supposed to go on trips, my little cousins and I would bug our parents until they allowed us to ride in the back of her truck. Aside from getting away from our parents, we knew that Mommy Mila would have a big cooler at the back of her car, and it would be filled with sodas for all of us.

If there was one thing that everyone complained about, though, it was Mommy Mila’s smoking habits. She always had a stick of cigarette in her mouth whenever I saw her. The only time that she did not have one was when we were at church. However, that was only for like 30 minutes. As soon as the service was over, she would be the first one out of the door, eager to light a stick.

A Decade Later

Over a decade passed, and Mommy Mila’s smoking habits remained. Throughout that period, I could not recall how many times the entire family took turns asking her to stop smoking because it was bad for her health. Despite that, she did not experience any health issues at the time, so she was like, “You should know that I am invincible. I will never get any disease because of my cigarettes.”

I was already working when I heard through my mom that Mommy Mila got admitted to the hospital after fainting at a project site. The doctors said that hypertension was the reason behind it. Her blood pressure was always high, and the doctors linked it to her ongoing smoking habits. Unfortunately, Mommy Mila did not believe them. She would take the medicine they prescribed to her, but she did not stop smoking, insisting that she knew her body more than any shrink. Her exact words were, “My hypertension is hereditary; I got it from my mom. Let’s not bring my love for smoking into this.”

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Sooner than later, Mommy Mila got hospitalized again. This time, it was because of an insect bite that turned into a wound and took forever to heal. The doctor’s diagnosis was diabetes. Again, they said that smoking was the culprit, but Mommy Mila would not have any of it. She was like, “It may be because I drink soda all the time or don’t get enough exercise. Hence, I will cut back my soda intake and walk more. But don’t tell me to stop smoking.”

No matter how many pills Mommy Mila would take, I did not need a weighing scale to know that her weight kept dropping. The shrinks said it was technically good for her, but she looked sickly – as if the weight loss was due to an illness.

I turned out to be right when Mommy Mila complained of feeling a lump on her throat. When the doctor checked her out, it turned out to be a tumor. Since they found dried blood in that region, the doctor said it could develop into cancer, so they ordered an emergency operation.

Mommy Mila agreed to it, and 24 hours later, she was already recuperating in her hospital bed. I visited her at once.

“How are you feeling?” I asked.

“Like I could use a puff right now,” she joked weakly.

“Uh, no, you don’t need that ever,” I countered.

“But I’m healed now.”

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Counseling Someone Who Already Suffers Due To Their Smoking Habits 

Based on how Mommy Mila answered me, it felt like there was nothing that we – her family – could do to make her stop smoking. Thus, I brought her to a counselor.

It took three consecutive counseling sessions before Mommy Mila realized that she had been addicted to smoking for decades. Addiction was a sensitive subject for her because one of her brothers died because of heroin addiction. That pushed her to take her counselor seriously and ensure that her fate would not be similar to her brother’s.

Final Thoughts

Mommy Mila stayed in counseling for an entire year. I would guess that some people would get better after a few sessions, but she needed help longer due to the number of years she depended on cigarettes to feel better. She went from two packs a day to ten sticks, five sticks, one stick, and finally none at all.

Everyone was so proud of Mommy Mila’s journey, but no one could possibly be prouder than her. The better she did at counseling, the better her physical health became.

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“I used to think that I would be dead at 50, but now I feel like I could reach 100 if I keep this up,” Mommy Mila said.