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Winthrop University Hospital

Yes, You Can Kick the Habit!

“I thought the cigarette was stronger than me,” recalled Westbury resident Eleanor Boyd, who, after a 39-yearlong battle with cigarettes, overcame her nicotine addiction, thanks to her strong will and the help of Winthrop-University Hospital’s Tobacco Cessation Program.

A smoker since her high school years, Ms. Boyd attempted to quit multiple times throughout her life with no success.

“I went through the motions of quitting, but when the cravings came back, I didn’t have the tools or the knowledge to deal with those urges, so I just gave into them again,” Ms. Boyd said. “This became a consistent pattern over the course of my life.”

But after watching a close family member undergo difficult treatments for pancreatic cancer, and feeling the damage that cigarettes had already done to her own body, Ms. Boyd desperately wanted a healthier lifestyle.

A flyer with information about Winthrop’s Tobacco Cessation Program – a free, four week program that utilizes various techniques including behavior modification, nicotine replacement therapy and oral medications to help participants quit – arrived at Ms. Boyd’s home at just the right time.

“Our multidisciplinary staff, comprised of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and physical therapists, is sensitive to the many difficulties people face when they decide to stop smoking,” said Peter Spiegler, MD, Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit and Medical Director of the Tobacco Cessation Program. “Knowing that no single approach works for everyone, our staff works hard to ensure that each participant receives personalized, professional support.”

Upon meeting Mara Bernstein, LRT, Administrative Director of Pulmonary Outpatient Services at Winthrop, who moderates the program, Ms. Boyd immediately knew she found the help she had been searching for.

“This program was the right fit for me because I knew that if I could feel just a little freedom from nicotine, I was going to hold on to it,” she said.

13 Mara Bernstein, LRT, Administrative Director of Pulmonary Outpatient Services at Winthrop (left) and Peter Spiegler, MD, Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit and Medical Director of the Tobacco Cessation Program at Winthrop (right) join Eleanor Boyd (center) who quit smoking cigarettes with the help of Winthrop’s Tobacco Cessation Program.

“The goal of the first week is to help participants take an active role in understanding why and how much they smoke, as well as their reasons for wanting to quit. I also discuss the financial and health costs of smoking,” explained Ms. Bernstein. She asks participants to fill out a survey indicating their smoking habits to determine what kind of smoker they are, and encourages them to keep a “Pack Track” – a log of when, why, who they are with and how they feel while smoking, to better understand what triggers them to smoke.

Ms. Bernstein analyzes the information from the survey and the “Pack Track” during the second session and works with participants to develop behavior modification plans to help them gradually quit smoking. Participants are asked to abstain from smoking for a certain number of hours per day in order to slowly start weaning themselves off cigarettes.

The third week is the target quit week. Ms. Bernstein emphasizes techniques to fight urges to smoke, and participants are encouraged to use nicotine replacement therapy or prescribed oral medications, if needed.

Ms. Bernstein also sets up a buddy system so that participants can help each other stay smokefree, which encouraged Ms. Boyd to stay focused on her goal. “I was really proud of the people around me who quit, and I wanted to be a part of that,” she said.

The final meeting offers continued support and education. “We discuss how to maintain a smoke-free lifestyle, and I encourage participants to share any difficulties they are having,” said Ms. Bernstein.

Ms. Boyd gradually cut down on cigarettes until the fourth week. After that, a combination of prescribed medication and behavior modification techniques enabled her to finally quit.

“Quitting wasn’t an easy task, but I was ready to face it using what I learned in the program. Although I had tried medication before, it didn’t work for me until I had an understanding of how to break my addiction. This time, when the desire to smoke came back, I was able to fight it,” she said.

Ms. Boyd has been smoke-free since February 14, 2010.

For more information about Winthrop-University Hospital’s Tobacco Cessation Program, call 1-866-WINTHROP.
Vol. 20, No. 2
Summer/Fall 2010

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