Former drug addict says quitting smoking is 'the hardest thing' he's ever done

Chris Newson has quit smoking after several years fighting addiciton for drink and drugs

Chris Newson has quit smoking after several years fighting addiciton for drink and drugs - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A former drink and drug addict who has given up smoking to be a better father to his son has revealed it is "the hardest thing" he has ever done.

Chris Newson, from Leiston, began smoking as a teenager and later started taking hard drugs in his adult life.

The 60-year-old said he used cocaine and heroin as a "painkiller" for mental health issues, but has managed to remain drug-free for two decades.

However, nicotine was the one addiction he had never been able to shake off after being a smoker for the majority of his life.

Determined to be a more responsible parent to his son, who has never seen his father smoke, Mr Newson has recently gone cold turkey after realising treatments for nicotine were only making him ill.

Mr Newson runs an art gallery in Leiston and has worked with Suffolk artist Maggi Hambling

Mr Newson runs an art gallery in Leiston and has worked with Suffolk artist Maggi Hambling - Credit: Charlotte Bond

He said: "I started smoking when I was 15, like we all did in those days. I've had quite a few issues over the years.

"My drug of choice was 'what have you got?'. There hasn't been a drug I haven't touched.

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"It all started in my childhood — I was using drugs as a painkiller for what I was feeling. As soon as I hit 18 I moved to LSD and ended up using heroin. All the other drugs didn't seem to work.

"When my first son was born, I celebrated by going out drinking and taking drugs.

"But I've not used any class A drugs for 20 years. I've got a son who has never seen me drink or take drugs, and that's the most important thing for me."

Mr Newson, whose elder son is 34, said he started to feel the effects of nicotine withdrawal after day three.

The 60-year-old quit smoking to be a better father to his son

The 60-year-old quit smoking to be a better father to his son - Credit: Charlotte Bond

But he has found comfort in going to the gym or swimming, believing the biggest obstacle to overcoming the addiction was the mental barrier.

Mr Newson said: "I want to live longer and to be there for my son. I've been off nicotine for nine days and it's the hardest thing I've ever done.

"The nicotine patches made me feel physically sick — so what was the point in taking them?

"On day three, I was very depressed. But I've beaten heroin, I've beaten cocaine, I've beaten alcohol and I'll beat nicotine.

"I'm still struggling, to be honest, but I know if I go to the gym I will sweat it out.

"However, I'm now completely drug and alcohol free and I like that. It's all one day at a time — the more I tell people, the easier it gets."

One of the pieces on display at Mr Newson's gallery

One of the pieces on display at Mr Newson's gallery in east Suffolk - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Mr Newson, an artist who runs a gallery in Leiston, has worked with Maggi Hambling in the past. He wanted to share his experience and hopes his tale can help others shake off their addictions.

He has credited Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous as being instrumental in his recovery over the years and urged people in need of help to not be afraid to ask for support.

Mr Newson added: "There is support available — I'm really glad I've done this. If I can do it, anyone can.

"If I get a craving, I just go for a walk. However hard it gets, you just never pick up a drink or a drug."

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