In January 2012 Minister of Health and Long-term Care Deb Matthews announced funding for CAMH’s TEACH program to help nearly 23,000 smokers undergoing addictions treatment across Ontario. Raymond Corless, a client of CAMH’s Nicotine Dependence Clinic was not only present at this announcement but he gave a great speech as well.
Here is his speech, in his own words.
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen
I used to be a cigarette addict.
I smoked for 49 years and for the last 25 to 30 years I was smoking in excess of 50 cigarettes a day.
In the past 2 years I have been diagnosed with a myriad of physical disorders - all having a direct correlation with cigarette smoking.
Finally I decided I must do something about this demon that was controlling my life. With the guidance of a friend, a nurse at Toronto Western Hospital, I was introduced to CAMH’s Nicotine Dependence Clinic who showed me the Nicotine Replacement Therapy.
The people at CAMH’s Nicotine Dependence Clinic showed me the partnership of mental behaviour and medical assistance, a plan called Nicotine Replacement Therapy.
The doctors evaluated my situation and arrived at a plan to assist me in attaining my goal of zero cigarettes. This consisted of a combination of patches and inhalers to help in controlling the physical demands of cigarettes.
The therapists provided guidance with mental attitude. Along with the various support groups I was able to develop and follow a plan to first reduce, then quit cigarettes.
While attending weekly sessions sharing my problems with other smokers, I began a step-by-step reduction program.
Every two weeks I would reduce my daily cigarette count. At each level we would evaluate my progress and evaluate the next step.
It was during the second group session that I was able to get my cigarette count down to 4 to 7 cigarettes daily.
Then one day - August 31, 2011 - I got out of bed and decided that I did not want to smoke cigarettes anymore. Actually that morning I bought a package of cigarettes, looked at them when I got home, then put them in the refrigerator unopened. There they sit to this day.
Now 4½ months later and still cigarette free, I still occasionally have the urge to reach for a cigarette. Fortunately I still have the patch and inhaler to assist me in combating these occasional cravings.
My goal now is to eliminate the patches and inhalers by reducing gradually but steadily - one day at a time.