The Great American Smokeout and the Chrysalis Wellness Initiative: Tobacco Tackle

By Hilleary Reinhardt

Today we celebrate “The Great American Smokeout” put on by the American Cancer Society. Chrysalis takes a holistic approach towards mental health recovery, focusing on individual’s entire lives, including mind, body, spirit, and community and understands the impact that tobacco use and smoking has on the whole person. We at Chrysalis want you to know that we are here to support you in your journey to quit smoking or using tobacco. Support plays a HUGE role in every aspect of our lives and this is no different for those who are on their quit journeys. Andrew and Kurt, two Chrysalis Certified Peer Support Specialists, share how important support was and continues to be in their quit stories: 

“I had tried to quit many times over the span of 10 years that I spent smoking. When I moved to Wisconsin I was given a great opportunity to quit for good. The chief motivating factor was not having much of any money to go out and spend on cigarettes. I made a plan to smoke less and less each day and gradually step down. As I was doing this I was employing some strategies to deal with the anxiety and habits that kept me smoking over the years. Instead of going out for smoke every few hours I would go out and go for a short walk around the block. I also reduced my engagement with anyone or anything that would remind me of smoking and keeping smoking off of my mind was a great aid. The biggest asset I had in following through on quitting was feeling connected to friends and a long distance relationship through contacts over the phone and online. In order to stay off tobacco use for good I continue to use tools and supports to reduce my anxiety such as medication and therapy. I spent a lot of time focusing more on my singing to aid in dealing with anxiety symptoms. After quitting smoking my singing range had mostly recovered which was a very positive side effect of quitting.” –Andrew

“I started smoking when I was teenager, hanging out with kids at school. Trying to fit in. I continued to smoke for most of my teen years and in my twenties. I had tried to quit the first time by throwing my cigarettes out of the car window and not buying anymore. That worked for 2 years. After a lot of stressful life events took place I turned back to smoking. The second time I quit smoking I was sent to prison for 3 years. During this time my wife and mother in law were still smoking and when I was released I just picked it up again out of boredom. My wife and I continued to smoke for a few years together even though I was diagnosed with asthma. It didn’t deter me at all. The last time I decided to quit smoking was when my wife became pregnant. We both made the decision to quit smoking once and for all. And the day our son was born, we both gave it up cold turkey. It was very difficult and I found myself “relapsing” occasionally, until one day I said “ENOUGH”! That was it. I was finally done with smoking. We supported each other throughout the process. It was tough at times but we got through it. I’ve been smoke free for 5-1/2 years now.” –Kurt

In May 2020, with the support of University of Wisconsin Madison Center for Tobacco Research and Interventions (UW-CTRI), Chrysalis began working on a project called the “Chrysalis Wellness Initiative: Tobacco Tackle”. Through this project, we aim to support the Chrysalis community as we increase the number of conversations surrounding tobacco use and create a tobacco free campus with the goal of reducing tobacco use in the Chrysalis community. Chrysalis is here to support you!