Supporting people recovering from alcohol and drugs to quit smoking

Cancer Council NSW
Lives Lived Well team leader Harley Stedman
Lives Lived Well team leader Harley Stedman

Lives Lived Well is a not-for-profit organisation working to help people impacted by drugs or alcohol as well as mental health concerns.

Wyla is one of the many Drug and Alcohol programs under the Lives Lived Well banner. Wyla specialises in drug and alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation support to clients in Orange, NSW.

The Wyla program offers a 7-10 day medically supervised detox service and a 6-12 week residential rehabilitation program to those requiring longer therapeutic interventions.

Challenges faced

Many conversations staff were having with their clients was the feeling that they couldn’t give up smoking at the same time as their other drug use. Although quitting smoking is unlikely to undermine other drug treatment, but rather improves it.

Another significant barrier that clients continued to come up against was affordable access to NRT, in order for them to have a good attempt at quitting smoking. This was largely due to some NRT products, such as the inhalators, not being accessible under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which added to the financial stress some of the clients at Wyla were already experiencing.

“Having NRT accessible and affordable not only supports our clients in refraining from smoking it also supports their [rehabilitation] journey at Wyla,” Lives Lived Well team leader and Tackling Tobacco champion Harley Stedman said.

The benefits of quitting smoking at the same time as other drugs

There is strong evidence to suggest those who give up all substances at once have a far greater chance of remaining abstinent in the community. For this reason, Wyla adopted a smoke-free environment in 2018, and continue to do so. During such time, clinicians have been trained to support clients in their journey to give up alcohol, drugs as well as tobacco products.

Wyla have been continuously passionate about their commitment to support individuals to achieve positive health outcomes by quitting smoking. However, Wyla felt there was more that they could do to address smoking, even though they already were 100% smoke-free.

“Cancer Council supports you along the way and are only too willing to provide information, resources and guidance should you need it,” Harley said.

“[Tackling Tobacco] is highly effective and provides a great source of information for clinicians on the front line to have brief intervention conversations confidently, compassionately and sensitively.”

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