Tobacco and Substance Abuse
El Centro can help clients access resources to address tobacco and substance abuse. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has helpful information regarding quitting tobacco use. They also manage a helpline: 1-800-QUIT- NOW.
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One of our Tobacco Success Stories - Mr. Leoncio O.
Mr. Leoncio O. was born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua Mexico in 1962. He came from a home of both parents along with brothers and sisters. When he was 16 years old he began to follow suit with all his friends and started smoking, drinking alcohol, and going to parties. Several years later, at the age of 18, he would get married. His smoking and drinking continued and caused unwanted problems within his marriage, family, and friends. He also noticed that he was being irresponsible with his marriage and financial responsibilities and obligations. He stated that his drinking problem also brought about problems with his employer. Two of Mr. Leoncios’ brothers were also alcoholics but had recently quit drinking and began to change their lives. The changes were very noticeable to Mr. Leoncio. He noticed they had better relationships with their families and were being more responsible with their commitments. Mr. Leoncios’ brothers started to show interest in Mr. Leoncio and his drinking problem. The biggest thing Mr. Leoncio noticed about his brothers were that they didn’t preach to him about his drinking and/or smoking. They were very respectful, thoughtful, encouraging, and caring in their approach. His brothers changed lives and personal character traits made Mr. Leoncio take on a feeling of shame in himself. It was this reason that he decided that he would no longer let alcohol control is life. His brothers invited Mr. Leoncio to attend a local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) chapter in their city. He accepted, and with the help of AA he stopped drinking in December of 1985. Mr. Leoncio remained sober for 4 years while living in Mexico.
Mr. Leoncio then moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, and founded a local chapter of AA in December of 1990. With his victory over alcohol behind him, and his daily walk in sobriety, he continued to struggle with smoking and his addiction to nicotine. He stated that he would normally smoke about a half a pack of cigarettes a day. He noted that he was aware that his clothes and breath constantly smelled of smoke, his skin started to resemble a “smokers complexion”, and he knew it was detrimental to his health, but he was addicted to smoking and couldn’t see himself kicking the habit.
It would take something that Mr. Leoncio was passionate about, singing, to finally get his attention. One year at Christmas while singing with a group of family and friends he noticed that his singing voice was starting to leave him. He also noticed that he was short of breath after singing. Mr. Leoncio immediately became alarmed. The effects of his smoking addiction just reared their ugly head, but in dramatic fashion. It was apparent that his years of smoking were starting to take their toll on his physical health.
Frustrated, angry, and scared, Mr. Leoncio began thinking about cancer and health complications as a result of his tobacco use. Right on the spot he decided that he wouldn’t allow smoking cigarettes to take away his health and his passion for singing. He made a decision and he stopped smoking.
Mr. Leoncio states that it wasn’t uncommon for him for Mr. Leoncio to crave a cigarette after he quit smoking. When this craving would appear, he would typically drink some water or have some candy to fight off the craving. In his own words, “to stop smoking was harder than to stop drinking alcohol”. After he stopped smoking he noticed that his breathing became easier, his sense of smell returned along with the ability to taste food again, his skin began to look younger/healthier, the smell of smoke was no longer in his clothes, and he would be reunited with his love for singing.
Mr. Leoncio’s message; “Stop smoking – for health reasons. Nicotine and smoking is an addiction and I was addicted”. He notes that a person will almost immediately feel healthier after kicking the habit.