Smoking Cessation Enhances Treatment

By Leslie Davis

To help the nearly 60 percent of patients entering Sierra Tucson who are nicotine-dependent, the residential treatment center is re-creating its smoking cessation group beginning Sept. 14, 2009.

Patients entering the center as smokers will be automatically assigned to the group, which will be held once a week. The group, previously very helpful to smokers wanting to quit, began to lose attendance about two years ago, according to Sierra Tucson Clinical Director Nancy Jarrell.

“Our medical providers still treat nicotine addiction, and we want this formal group to strongly motivate, educate, and encourage our patients in gaining freedom from this powerful addiction,” Jarrell said.

Treatment of Nicotine Addiction

In addition to a weekly group, patients working to break their nicotine addiction have access to a weekly lecture to educate them on the consequences of smoking. “Medications Used for Addiction,” presented by addiction specialist Jerry Fitz, M.D., focuses on nicotine dependence and promotes attendance at the smoking cessation group.

Patients attending the group will also be part of a motivational awards program at Sierra Tucson that honors them for quitting. The names of people who quit smoking will be announced at the center’s all-community meeting, and they will receive a special sticker to put on their name badge recognizing their achievement, Jarrell said.

Treatment for nicotine addiction at Sierra Tucson also includes the use of a nicotine patch and/or other medications to slowly reduce and eliminate cravings. Auricular and full-body acupuncture are also used to decrease withdrawal symptoms, and traditional psychotherapy provides emotional support.

Though Sierra Tucson is not yet a non-smoking facility, designated smoking areas for patients are made undesirable and inconvenient, according to Jarrell. The two designated outdoor locations, equipped with cement benches and little shade, are separated into male and female smoking areas.

Combining smoking cessation groups with other treatments has proven effective in helping smokers successfully break their habit and in achieving long-term abstinence from nicotine. With freedom from nicotine addiction, individuals gain significantly better health and improved odds of remaining abstinent from drugs or alcohol.