Like many smokers, Sam Lemm knows how hard it can be to quit.
In fifteen years of smoking, he has attempted to quit twice before, going ‘cold turkey’ both times with each quit attempt lasting approximately six months – until recently, when his case manager advised him of the Metro North Mental Health’s Kick Butts group at the Prince Charles Hospital and suggested he attend.
Kick Butts was developed for people who struggle with both mental illness and nicotine dependence, with the program aiming to provide flexibility to accommodate individual variation in peoples’ circumstances, mental state, level of dependency, literacy and motivation.
So far, the program has seen 93 people like Sam across Metro North Hospital and Health Service catchment since it was launched in 2018.
Kick Butts Social Worker Renelle Hardy said the program comprises six interactive group sessions, providing participants with psychoeducation regarding nicotine addition, withdrawal and cravings management, and support from professionals and peers alike.
“We know that people with mental illness want to quit smoking but struggle to do so without appropriate support. So, the Kick Butts program was designed by Metro North Mental Health’s experienced specialist clinicians to provide the knowledge, skills and resources needed by these clients,” Ms Hardy said.
“In addition to the session content and support, we offer weekly monitoring of carbon monoxide levels, individually tailored doses of free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), and two post group support sessions with an optional referral to Quitline.”
Proud Kick Butts Alumni Sam Lemm attended the program, admittedly reluctantly, following encouragement from his case manager.
“After the first session, I found it helpful and I wanted to go back – I had learned what nicotine addiction was and how it works as well as strategies to manage my cravings,” Mr Lemm said.
“I’ve been taught to acknowledge all the progress I make and celebrate my wins, no matter how small the victory. It all helped me to try quitting again, but this time I knew it would be different because I had a better understanding and was using NRT.”
Queensland Health data shows more than 1 in 10 Queenslanders smoke, with additional data revealing it could take on average between 7 to 10 attempts for people with mental health issues to kick the habit.
As for Sam, he’s feeling more prepared than ever before to quit smoking with the help of the Kick Butts program.
Kick Butts groups are being planned to kick off in three locations across MNMH in early 2021.