18 Jun 2014
The prevailing view in addiction treatment and recovery is that abstinence is the best approach. This means that once drugs or alcohol are removed from the body following detox, the addict resolves to totally abstain from using them. The reasoning behind this idea is that an addict is incapable of moderation. Many addicts in recovery believe that they have learned how to partake responsibly and that they can have a drink or two at a party. Is it really possible? Or do you need to abstain for the rest of your life?
Abstinence as a philosophy for addiction treatment has been around for decades. Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the oldest support programs and is one that firmly believes in the importance of abstinence. Another model, similarly based on the 12 steps, is called the Minnesota Model and also calls for total abstinence from drugs and alcohol. For both programs, and any 12-step based program for addiction treatment, the primary goal is lifelong abstinence.
These addiction treatment programs advocate for abstinence because they believe it is the only way that an addict can return to a normal way of life. They claim that an addict in recovery cannot handle having just one drink, or using narcotic prescription painkillers. One small slip-up may lead to a downward spiral and a return to full-blown addiction.
Are There Any Non-Abstinence Treatment Options?
As addiction treatment advances and evolves, experts have developed models and programs that do not necessarily require abstinence. For example, harm reduction is a philosophy of treatment that is gaining ground. Long used for heroin addicts, harm reduction means taking steps to reduce risks and harm caused to addicts. It allows for addicts to reach sobriety on their own terms and in their own time. Heroin addicts being treated in this way are given maintenance drugs like methadone, or clean needles to reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, or hepatitis B and C.
Heroin addicts are not the only ones who are experimenting with non-abstinence. Other types of addicts are embracing the idea of moderation. Using alcohol moderately and responsibly is becoming more popular as a way for addicts to re-enter society as a contributing member. One such group advocating this approach, Moderation Management, believes in the possibility of changing behaviors without requiring total abstinence. In particular, they advocate for problem drinkers to learn how to become moderate drinkers.
Is Abstinence Best For Me?
Whether you need to embrace complete abstinence is a personal choice. Some people respond well to a non-abstinence-based approach. They can be successful at learning how to moderate drinking, how to drink socially and how to be responsible about drinking without taking a headfirst dive back into addiction. For others, however, this approach simply doesn’t work and complete abstinence is the only safe way to remain healthy and well.
Making the choice to embrace moderation is not a decision to make alone. If you are already in recovery, talk to your therapist, counselor, mentor, and your closest friends and family members. Getting treatment was not something you could do alone and making this choice isn’t either. If you decide to try drinking in moderation, make sure that the people who support you know about your choice and respect their opinions. If everyone says it’s a bad idea, listen. If you do try to drink and it causes a bad relapse, don’t feel bad. Just get back into your recovery routine, resume therapy sessions, if possible, and recommit to sobriety.
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Medication commonly plays an important role in the effective treatment of alcoholism (one of the two overlapping conditions that constitute alcohol use disorder). Some of the medication options in use were specifically designed to help people affected by problematic alcohol use, while others were originally designed for the treatment of non-alcohol-related health concerns.
In a study published in April 2014 in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine explored the potential usefulness of an anti-seizure medication called ezogabine or retigabine as a treatment for people diagnosed with alcoholism.
Medications For Alcoholism Treatment
Doctors have four main medication options for helping people affected by alcoholism. Two of these options, disulfiram (Antabuse) and acamprosate (Campral), were developed primarily for alcohol-related treatment. Pharmaceutical researchers initially developed the third option, naltrexone (ReVia, Vivitrol), as a treatment for people diagnosed with opioid addiction. The fourth option, topiramate (Topamax), was originally intended to help individuals affected by certain types of seizure disorders.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has officially approved disulfiram, acamprosate and naltrexone as alcoholism treatments. The FDA has not approved topiramate for alcoholism treatment; however, doctors can still prescribe this medication as an unofficial or “off-label” option.
Each of the current medication options for alcoholism produces results in its own distinct way. For example, disulfiram deters drinking by slowing down the body’s ability to process alcohol and sharply exaggerating the unpleasant symptoms associated with excessive alcohol consumption. Acamprosate helps ease some of the worst symptoms of alcohol withdrawal by making certain changes in the brain’s chemical balance.
Naltrexone helps block the nerve receptors that normally give opioid narcotic substances access to the brain; for reasons that are not entirely clear, this action also interferes with the pleasure derived from alcohol consumption and reduces the strength of cravings for more alcohol intake. Topiramate helps reduce any overactivity in the brain’s nerve cells; although no one really knows why, this reduction also diminishes the strength of alcohol cravings and helps lower the risks for participation in excessive drinking.
Outside of the U.S., ezogabine is also commonly known as retigabine. Its brand name within the U.S. is Protiga. Like topiramate, ezogabine belongs to a group of medications called anti-seizure medications or anticonvulsants. Doctors typically use the medication as part of a larger course of treatment for adults affected by seizures called partial onset seizures, which remain localized in one part of the brain rather than branching out and producing more widespread effects. Ezogabine comes in tablet form.
Ezogabine In Alcoholism Treatment
In the study published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine used laboratory experiments on rats to investigate the usefulness of ezogabine (retigabine) as a treatment for alcoholism. These researchers had previously explored the potential usefulness of other types of anti-seizure medications and chose to focus on ezogabine because the medication works in a fairly unique way inside the brain.
During the study, the researchers gave ezogabine to two groups of rats for three days. One of these groups had access to a 10 percent solution of pure drinking alcohol, while the other group had access to a 5 percent alcohol solution. A comparison group of rats received a placebo instead of ezogabine. After comparing the outcomes in the three groups, the researchers concluded that the rats given ezogabine significantly reduced their alcohol intake over the course of the study.
The authors note that the therapeutic dose of ezogabine given to the rats in the project was quite close to the dose capable of producing an unwanted loss of muscle control. This means that, in human beings, the amount of the medication needed to help recovering alcoholics curb their drinking may not differ much from the amount capable of causing harm. Citing this finding, the study’s authors call for more research to investigate the specific effects that ezogabine has inside the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). In addition, they feel that their ezogabine-related work can play an important role in the search for other medications that work in a similar way and may ultimately provide unique benefits in alcoholism treatment.
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13 Jun 2014
Drug addiction is a disease that takes over every aspect of life, from relationships and home life to job performance and career. Struggling with addiction, while also trying to maintain a position at work is a big challenge. You probably have many concerns and questions: Do my coworkers and my boss know? If I take time off for treatment will I lose my job? What about drug testing at work? Getting care for your addiction and getting well should be your top priority. However, you should also consider how it may impact your job.
Does Everyone At Work Know About My Addiction?
It is not unusual to feel ashamed or embarrassed about having a substance abuse problem. You probably want to keep your addiction a secret from your coworkers and your boss, but the signs might be obvious. While many addicts are good at hiding their problem, there is a real possibility that everyone does know, or at least suspects.
If you have been actively trying to hide your addiction, this should be a red flag that you really do have a problem and need to seek treatment. It may be embarrassing to admit to your struggle, but your health and well-being are more important. If you haven’t yet sought help, consider inquiring with your company’s human resources department about an employee assistance program (EAP). If there is an EAP available, you can use it to get confidential help and resources for addiction treatment.
How Can I Face Going Back To Work After Rehab?
Getting help is your first step toward the rest of your life in sobriety. Making use of your company’s EAP you can find addiction treatment that works for you. You may even be able to attend outpatient treatment in the evenings and on weekends and not miss work. It is important that you understand your limits, though. If you are unable to resist the urge to keep using, you may need to go to a residential rehab facility.
If you are worried about being discriminated against because of your addiction, know your rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not protect you if you are still abusing illegal substances. However, if you are no longer using and are seeking treatment, you cannot be discriminated against in the workplace. Addiction is a disease and as long as you are getting treated for it, you cannot be punished at work.
While you may not be discriminated against officially, you may still feel that you are being subtly mistreated when you return to work after completing addiction treatment. You may feel stigmatized by your coworkers or feel that they no longer trust you or that they are excluding you. Sometimes these behaviors result from a genuine ignorance, as your coworkers may not have any experience with addiction. If you feel comfortable doing so, offer to discuss the situation with a curious coworker. This may help your reintegration into the workplace.
Another issue with going back to work is the possibility of relapsing. Going back to the job can be stressful and turning to drugs is your natural response to stress. Before returning to the workplace, be sure you are ready and have a plan in place for resisting the urge to use again. This may mean having loved ones ready to support you when you feel like using or having a support group to attend. The most important thing is your health. Work is important too, but you won’t be able to do your job fully until you have taken care of yourself and your recovery.
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11 Jun 2014
Addiction is a complex disease of the brain that ties people to chemical substances and destroys lives if left untreated. Unlike many physical illnesses, healing from addiction has never been straightforward. Researchers have worked hard to understand this disease, and, as our understanding has evolved, we have come to learn that memory plays an important role in how addiction takes over the brain.
Addiction And The Brain
Your brain contains a reward system, which gives you a pleasurable feeling when you do or experience something positive. For instance, when you get a hug from someone you love, this reward system causes a chemical called dopamine to be released in your brain. Dopamine makes you feel good. Drugs act like a big switch that turns on a flood of dopamine—far more than is released during normal, pleasurable activities.
The powerful high experienced with drug use often leads to more drug use. Over time, your brain will respond by decreasing the number of receptors for dopamine. This means you need more of the drug to get any kind of pleasurable feeling and when you don’t get it, you feel terrible. This cycle of withdrawal, cravings and relief are centered in the brain and lead to addiction.
Addiction And Memory
As modern research is beginning to discover, the changes to the reward system are not enough to fully explain addiction. Addiction also involves memories. Every time a person takes a drug and gets a flood of dopamine, the brain makes a strong memory associated with that high. Often connected to this memory is what led the person to use the drug in the first place: an emotion, a stressful situation or another memory.
It turns out that these memories are the key to why drug addiction is so hard to overcome. Addicts quit over and over again, but relapse and come back to drug use because of memories. Even after years sober, an addict may have a memory of drug use triggered by an external factor. This could be a place where he used drugs in the past, or a person with whom he used, or even just the feeling of stress or fear that he long ago associated with drug use.
Memories are tied to learning, and addicts have learned when and in which situations to use drugs. This makes it very difficult not to relapse in the presence of these learned triggers.
Blocking Memories To Help Treat Addiction
With the knowledge of the role that memories play in addiction and relapse, experts are trying to develop treatments that block the memories that trigger drug or alcohol use. Researchers at UC San Francisco have discovered a molecule that could be manipulated to do just that. The molecule is part of a pathway in the brain that signals memories related to addiction.
Work on blocking this pathway in rats is showing great promise for treating humans with addiction. The technique targets specific memories as opposed to blocking out memories without discretion.
The potential for being able to help recovering addicts avoid relapse by blocking memories is promising and hopeful. For addicts who have been clean for years, a relapse is still possible thanks to these powerful memories. It can be incredibly frustrating to be unable to resist a craving, but with more research and understanding of addiction and the brain, we may be able to break the hold drugs have on addicts.
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Contingency management is a form of behavioral psychotherapy known to help people recover from an addiction to the stimulant drug cocaine. This therapy uses vouchers or cash prizes to encourage recovering addicts to stay active in the treatment process and meet their program goals.
In a study published in June 2014 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, a team of researchers from Wayne State University investigated the question of whether the value of the reward offered during contingency management has an impact on the therapy’s chances of producing beneficial outcomes.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
People addicted to cocaine have a chemical dependence stemming from the lasting changes that the drug makes inside their brains, as well as symptoms that indicate a loss of control over use of the drug and/or a clearly damaging pattern of behavior centered on drug use. When doctors treat certain forms of substance addiction, they can rely on medications proven to increase the odds that a client/patient will halt substance use and establish long-term abstinence.
However, although a number of medications show promise as potential treatments for cocaine addiction, doctors addressing this type of addiction do not currently have a reliable medication available for their use. This means that treatment programs for people addicted to the drug must use some form of counseling or psychotherapy to provide the needed assistance.
The form of psychotherapy most commonly employed for this purpose is behavioral therapy, a term that describes any therapeutic approach designed to modify and/or replace harmful behaviors that support continued involvement in substance use.
Contingency management (CM) is one of the most frequently used forms of behavioral therapy. One approach to the therapy, called voucher-based reinforcement, provides clients/patients with valuable vouchers as rewards for doing such things as producing drug-free urine tests, regularly attending treatment program activities and otherwise taking the steps required to establish drug abstinence and maintain that abstinence.
Within limits, people enrolled in voucher-based programs can choose how to redeem their vouchers.
Another approach to CM, called prize incentives contingency management, substitutes cash prizes for vouchers. When a client or patient participating in this type of contingency management reaches a program objective, he or she earns the chance to enter a drawing and win varying amounts of cash.
As a rule, the rewards in both types of contingency management go up when a program participant consistently meets his or her treatment goals.
Does The Value Of The CM Reward Matter To Addicts?
The Wayne University researchers assessed the impact of the value of the reward offered on the odds that a recovering cocaine addict will comply with his or her program objectives and avoid cocaine use.
During the study, 15 cocaine addicts participated in 10 sessions that required them to choose between drug use and taking the steps required to receive a financial reward for program compliance. During some of these sessions, the reward offered was $1; other sessions offered a reward of $3 for avoidance of cocaine use. In addition, during some of the sessions, the participants had a chance of winning $6, $12 or $24.
The conditions of the first two types of sessions mimicked the terms of voucher-based contingency management, while the conditions of the third type of session mimicked the terms of prize incentives CM. Prior to the main phase of the study, the researchers made sure that the enrolled participants still viewed cocaine use as an attractive and tempting option.
After completing their testing, the researchers concluded that, during the contingency management sessions that offered a fixed $3 reward for not using cocaine, the study participants were substantially more likely to avoid taking the drug than they were during the contingency management sessions that offered a $1 reward.
They also found that the same results held true when the study participants had to choose between using cocaine and taking a chance at winning $6, $12 or $24.
Are Both Alternative Addiction Treatment Programs Effective?
The results of the study generally confirmed the effectiveness of both voucher-based CM and prize incentives CM as methods for helping recovering cocaine addicts remain drug-abstinent.
The study’s authors also concluded that the chances that both of these approaches to contingency management will produce the desired benefits go up when the amount of the reward for avoiding drug use is relatively high.
Methadone maintenance treatment and abstinence-based treatment are two approaches used in recovery programs for people affected by opioid addiction. When successful, each of these treatment options helps opioid addicts reduce their level of craving for continued drug/medication use.
In a study published March/April 2014 in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, a multinational team of researchers compared the brain effects of successful methadone maintenance treatment to the brain effects of successful abstinence-based treatment. These researchers concluded that each of the two approaches to opioid addiction treatment has its own unique impact on brain function.
Methadone maintenance treatment is one form of a harm reduction-based approach to substance addiction. In harm reduction, doctors don’t set complete abstinence from substance intake as a necessary goal of treatment.
Instead, they attempt to limit the damage caused by uncontrolled substance use, even if this means that their patients still engage in substance use to a lesser degree or in more strictly limited circumstances.
An opioid addict participating in methadone maintenance receives a specific amount of methadone (an opioid medication) every day instead of consuming an unknown or unpredictable amount of heroin or some other powerful opioid drug of abuse. This dose of methadone provides enough of an opioid effect to avoid triggering symptoms of withdrawal i
Abstinence-Based Treatment For Opioid Addiction
An abstinence-based approach to opioid addiction treatment may also involve the use of methadone or another opioid medication called buprenorphine as a temporary treatment to help recovering addicts avoid the worst symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
However, the ultimate aim of this approach is to help recovering addicts completely avoid opioid use on an ongoing basis. This means that the use of opioid medications is strictly limited, if it occurs at all. Abstinence-based programs may also use non-opioid-based medications such as naloxone or naltrexone, which actively block the drug effects of opioid substances in patients/clients who have completely detoxified from active opioid use.
Counseling And Psychotherapy Treatment Sessions
Both methadone maintenance and abstinence-based programs also typically use some form of counseling, psychotherapy or mutual support to augment the effects of medication and improve the odds that treatment will have a beneficial outcome.
Forms of counseling and psychotherapy used in opioid addiction treatment include a behavioral retraining approach called cognitive behavioral therapy and a modern-day form of psychoanalysis called psychodynamic therapy. Many mutual support groups for recovering opioid addicts follow a basic 12-step approach that emphasizes ongoing drug abstinence.
Differing Brain Effects For Methadone vs. Abstinence-Based Treatment
In the study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, researchers from Australia and Iran used an imaging technology called fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to compare the brain functions of a group of people who successfully participated in methadone maintenance treatment for heroin addiction to the brain functions of a group of people who successfully participated in abstinence-based treatment for heroin addiction.
For comparison’s sake, they also examined the brain functions of a third group of people unaffected by opioid addiction. The fMRI scans were taken while the members of all three groups viewed a mixture of stimulating cues, including cues designed to trigger any residual cravings for heroin. In addition to analyzing the data from these scans, the researchers asked each individual to report his or her level of drug craving prior to and after exposure to the heroin-related cues.
The researchers found that the members of the methadone maintenance group and the members of the abstinence-based treatment group displayed an equal ability to resist the heroin cues used during the fMRI scans. However, they concluded that different brain areas were activated in each group as a result of exposure to the cues.
Compared to people unaffected by opioid addiction, the people who participated in methadone maintenance showed an unusually high level of activity in parts of the brain responsible for visual processing, logical analysis, the control of both pleasure- and fear-based emotional responses, and basic muscle coordination.
On the other hand, the people who participated in abstinence-based treatment showed an unusually high level of activity in parts of the brain responsible for regulating decision-making, controlling impulsive behavior, anticipating rewards and controlling certain key involuntary functions in the cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) system.
The authors of the study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine note that, when successful, both methadone maintenance treatment and abstinence-based treatment are linked to increased activity in brain areas that help recovering opioid addicts significantly reduce their drug cravings. They also note the clearly differing brain pathways that are typically activated in participants in each type of treatment.
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Naltrexone is a medication that directly counteracts the intoxicating effects of legal and illegal opioid narcotic substances. Doctors sometimes use the medication to treat people recovering from opioid addiction, but the success of this treatment depends largely on each individual taking his or her naltrexone dose on a regular basis.
In a study published in March/April 2014 in the American Journal on Addictions, a team of Chinese researchers explored the safety of a long-lasting, injectable form of naltrexone that could eliminate some of the concerns about maintaining regular dosing of the medication.
Naltrexone For Opioid Addiction Treatment
Scientists classify naltrexone with a group of substances known as opioid antagonists. When they enter the bloodstream, all of these substances travel to the sites that normally give opioid drugs and medications access to the brain. Once they reach these sites, opioid antagonists physically block opioids and prevent them from producing their narcotic effects.
Naltrexone, in particular, can play a role in opioid addiction treatment because it blocks the effects of opioid substances, lowers the level of opioid craving in recovering addicts and helps diminish the chances that recovering opioid addicts will relapse.
Unlike two opioid-based medications—called methadone and buprenorphine—commonly used in opioid addiction treatment, naltrexone is not a controlled substance. This means that doctors and other qualified health professionals require no special licensing to prescribe it. Many health professionals prescribe an oral form of the medication that patients must take every day.
Extended-release, injectable naltrexone is also known as depot naltrexone. Doctors or other qualified professionals administer this medication directly into muscle tissue (typically the gluteus muscles). Instead of dissipating in the bloodstream relatively rapidly like oral naltrexone, extended-release, injectable naltrexone gradually enters the bloodstream for roughly one month and blocks access to the effects of opioid drugs and medications throughout that time.
The main potential benefit of this form of naltrexone is improved compliance with the abstinence goals established in opioid addiction recovery programs. Like the short-acting oral version of the medication, depot naltrexone can trigger severe withdrawal symptoms if given to a recovering addict who still has opioids in his or her system.
For this reason, standard treatment guidelines stipulate that doctors wait at least a week after the verified end of opioid intake to administer the medication. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of an extended-release, injectable naltrexone product called Vivitrol in 2010.
Safety Of Injectable Naltrexone
In the study published in the American Journal on Addictions, researchers from three Chinese institutions used a small-scale trial to assess the safety of injectable depot naltrexone and examine patients’ ability to tolerate the medication.
All told, this trial included 36 people. Twenty-four of these individuals participated in a separate panel. Six people in this panel received a relatively high 400 mg dose of injectable naltrexone, while another six received a relatively low 200 mg dose of the medication. Twelve people in the panel received placebo injections that mimicked either the 400 mg naltrexone dose or the 200 mg naltrexone dose. The remaining 12 study participants were enrolled in a second panel and randomly received either six monthly 400 mg naltrexone injections or placebo injections that mimicked the naltrexone injections.
The researchers found that both the recipients of the 200 mg injections and the 400 mg injections still had medically significant amounts of naltrexone in their bloodstreams one month after dosing. Eleven of the people who received injectable naltrexone had some sort of adverse reaction while using the medication.
The researchers concluded that seven of these reactions were potentially the result of naltrexone exposure; however, they also concluded that none of the observed reactions produced moderate or severe effects.
The authors of the study published in the American Journal on Addictions found that extended-release naltrexone injections deliver steady amounts of the medication for a minimum of one month. They also found that the medication does not accumulate dangerously after multiple monthly injections occur.
Overall, they concluded that extended-release, injectable naltrexone is tolerated well by patients and does not pose any undue safety risks.
On a related note, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration points out that fatal or non-fatal opioid overdoses sometimes occur in people who receive monthly naltrexone injections but still continue taking opioid substances; however, the same overdose risks also apply to users of oral naltrexone or opioid-based treatment options.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. This is why helping people quit smoking is such a priority. Unfortunately, most smokers find it very hard to give up the habit. The Smoking Treatment for Ontario Patients (STOP) program—funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care—is one approach that manages to increase quit-rates by providing nicotine patches and psychological treatment to smokers, and could serve as an example for U.S.-based organizations. The initiative started in 2005 and now runs numerous times per year, offering smokers the opportunity to break free of their addictions and get healthy.
Why Is It So Hard To Quit Smoking?
Although tobacco is a widespread and legal substance, quitting it is hard for many of the same reasons that it’s difficult to stop using illegal drugs. Nicotine—the addictive component of cigarettes—releases dopamine in the brain, the neurochemical responsible for the majority of addictions. When the body gets accustomed to it, the external “boost” that smoking provides stops, and this leads to an imbalance in brain chemicals followed by unpleasant symptoms. The problem is compounded by the fact that research indicates “cold turkey” (unsupported) quitting is the most popular method, but is a considerably less successful strategy than counseling, medications and nicotine replacement therapy (like gums or patches). In short, smokers—with an already difficult task ahead of them—often try to quit by themselves, which is statistically the least successful method.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms Of Nicotine Withdrawal
Like with other drugs, when you stop consuming nicotine you may feel a wide range of physical symptoms. The most common smoking withdrawal symptoms are agitation, irritability, weight gain, depression and anxiety. The negative symptoms come on because the individual is no longer getting the nicotine he’s become dependent on, and the brain knows it, creating cravings in an attempt to make the individual succumb to temptation and give it another hit of nicotine.
Psychological Challenges Of Quitting Smoking
Although the physical withdrawal symptoms add to the discomfort of quitting smoking, the psychological effects are what drive many ex-smokers to relapse. Smoking, like other drug addictions, is a poor coping strategy for dealing with everyday problems, and when these problems return, the individual is at particular risk for relapse. Both internal and external “triggers” to smoke can make the process more difficult, with internal factors including things like stress and depression and external ones including things like being around a friend who smokes or taking a work break that you previously used for smoking. These things push the individual back to smoking, and in combination with the physical withdrawal symptoms, they make the process of quitting extremely challenging.
Benefits Of Initiatives Like STOP
These issues are what make initiatives like STOP so worthwhile. The core selling point of STOP is that attendees receive five weeks’ worth of free nicotine patches, which ordinarily cost around $30 per week, meaning they save around $150. This removes what some see as a financial barrier to getting the support they need, but the support also takes the psychological elements into account. Each qualifying smoker is also eligible to attend workshops and receive ongoing support to help manage triggers and cravings.
This broad range of support contributes to the impressive success rates enjoyed by the initiative. Oxford County’s tobacco control coordinator Dominique Bruce points out that those in the program have a quit rate that’s 50 percent higher than those not in the program. She also points to the cost savings and psychological support offered by the program. “If you slip up, you need to remember it’s just a slip up, not a fail,” Bruce said.
The Right Way To Help People Quit Smoking
There are many lessons that can be learned from programs like STOP, and although this initiative is in Canada, U.S.-based stop smoking initiatives can take a cue from the approach and work to reduce the preventable diseases and deaths caused by smoking. The smokers themselves face the biggest challenges, but with the right support and the guidance to help them push through the difficult periods, they have the ability to kick their tobacco addiction for good. As long as we understand the challenges inherent in quitting smoking—or kicking any addiction—we can find the compassion to help those in need and the wisdom to do so in the most effective way possible.