Patti (left) with her daughter in 2019.

A Breath of Fresh Air: Breaking a Nicotine Habit

With a grim prognosis from her doctor, Patti knew she needed to make a major life change. Having smoked cigarettes for the past 28 years, she was faced with a dire health crisis.

Patti moved to Denver from Louisiana two years ago to be close to her daughter. While putting down roots in a new city is never easy, Patti quickly settled into Mercy Housing’s Aromor Apartments and made a comfortable home for herself there. It became a haven for her that not only provided housing stability but a personal support network she so desperately needed.

The Aromor is a low-income community nestled in the heart of downtown Denver. The 66 private studio apartments are home to a diverse community of adult residents who have histories of chronic homelessness or have special needs.

Patti and Mya, her 15-year-old Chihuahua.

Shortly after moving in, a Resident Services Coordinator encouraged Patti to join the onsite Tobacco Cessation program. Although she had already quit smoking, she was still addicted to nicotine and was consuming large quantities of nicotine replacement lozenges. She wanted to be nicotine-free, and this program was just what Patti needed.

“Moving to Denver has been such a big change for me and I get frustrated quite a bit. I really appreciate that this class was offered here [at the Aromor] and I’ve learned ways to deal with the urge to smoke,” said Patti.

The program has helped Patti to gain helpful tips and tricks to curb nicotine cravings, develop relationships with other group members, and be a positive source of encouragement.

Chris, Tobacco Cessation Coordinator, has worked with Patti over the last several months and is thrilled to see her self-esteem and determination continue to flourish each week.

“Patti is wonderful! I have a group call with her and another resident every week and I truly do not know who gains more from it, myself or them. They hold each other to such high standards and continue to remain tobacco-free day after day, week after week. They bring a tremendous amount of wisdom each week and have so much to offer anyone willing to listen,” said Chris.

Patti has remained resolute in her efforts to stay nicotine free and looks for the positive in everything she does. With help from Mercy Housing’s Tobacco Cessation program, Patti was able to set and achieve goals to improve her health and has now been nicotine free for the last two years.

She has taken up regular exercise and tries to walk two miles every day. Often, Patti recruits a friend and fellow resident to join her on outings. She can always count on her trusted companion, Mya, to tag along as well. Mya is her 15-year-old Chihuahua who has been a good distraction as Patti continues her journey of nicotine independence.

Although Patti has been tobacco-free for a couple of years, she knows it is important for her to stay connected with her peers, which helps when she feels the urge to smoke or use nicotine. She leans on that support group and the coping mechanisms she has learned to stay strong. She continues to radiate positivity and wants to inspire others who use tobacco to join the program.

“I appreciate everything Mercy Housing does for the Aromor residents because many of us are on a very fixed income. It [Tobacco Cessation program] did something for me when I needed help. Someone just caring makes the difference of you not picking up another cigarette,” said Patti.