[Survivor Series] I started consuming tobacco at 16, without realising the side effects

By A U
This week, we bring you the story of a 32-year-old former tobacco addict who was able to overcome the addiction with timely intervention, counselling and guidance.

I, AU (name changed), 32-years-old, had visited a tertiary care hospital in Mumbai with the complaint of chest pain. 

I have been a tobacco addict and whenever I tried to quit tobacco, my hand used to shiver continuously. I started tobacco consumption at the age of 16, when I used to have it with lime mixture, approximately 20 times a day and also Mawa (a type of smokeless tobacco product) twice a day. I was also addicted to tea and my tea consumption was also 20 times in a day. 

I was referred to the LifeFirst tobacco cessation programme (an initiative by Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation). I enrolled in the programme and availed counselling services for six months.

Millions of Indians use tobacco in some form or the other.

Image credit: Shutterstock

During the sessions with LifeFirst counsellor Harshali Gaikwad, I understood that I was suffering from a health issue of chest pain, and had hand shivering because of my tobacco addiction.

After gathering information on reasons, patterns, and triggers for tobacco and tea addiction, Harshali provided information on various strategies and techniques, to help me during the quitting process.  She told me about the side effects of tea addiction, so I decided to quit that too. First, I decided to reduce the intake of tobacco and tea, and then quit completely. 

For my  hand shivering, which was withdrawal symptoms, she told me to exercise with the smiley ball, ( i.e. to press the ball every time I felt like shivering). Breathing exercises also benefited me. Every two-three days, I discussed my experience on a phone call with Harshali. 

With Harshali’s ongoing support and suggestive measures, I was able to cope with these effects. During the one-month period of counselling, I gradually reduced tobacco and tea intake. Exercise also greatly benefitted me and by the sixth follow-up session (at six months) of the programme, I was able to completely quit and progress in my life. 

Now my family and I are happy. I left my job as a peon, and recently started my own business as a property dealer. 

Edited by Anju Narayanan