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Tony takes another shot at quitting smoking

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BERLIN
– Although it’s true that people can and do quit smoking successfully cold turkey and without any help, the more common case is people try and fail to quit smoking several times before they succeed.

While it’s almost common knowledge by this point that the physical nicotine addiction is relatively easy to break, the psychological addiction cannot be overstated. It’s as much about a lifestyle change as it is about an attitudinal one and everyone had different tactics to cope with making that attitudinal change.

This is why the Worcester County Smoking Cessation Support Group can be such an important part of a person’s success in quitting. Meeting weekly with people who are having similar experiences and difficulties and hearing how they’re coping with this difficult task is a good way of understanding ones own struggle. As an active member of the group a person is able to give advice as much as they get it.

There’s also a measure of accountability without judgment. If you quit smoking among non-smokers and backslide there can be an amount of shame involved because it can be seen as a mere failure of the will rather than a bump in what anyone who has successfully quit will admit is already a pretty difficult road.

In a support group setting, the struggles are both particular and universal so problems are met with reinforced encouragement rather than with chiding. And no one is better at that then group leader Linda E. Green, R.N., M. Ed., C.D.E.

While Green admits to smoking while in nursing school, she quit successfully but exudes nothing but patience and understanding as she leads the group discussions and explains the course materials.

The smoking cessation classes tend to highlight the difference between knowledge and belief. Everyone knows the statistics and that smoking related deaths still edge out obesity as the most preventable, but everyone seems to have the belief that they are the anomalies; the margin dwellers that occupy the small percentage of people who appear to exhibit no ill affects from smoking.

Participation in the class aligns better aligns one’s knowledge with their beliefs. It chips away at the notion that there’s any good reason to continue smoking by demonstrating that quitting, while somewhat difficult can be made easier by increased understanding and alignment with others in the same situation.

At least that’s the conclusion at which I arrived when I decided to attempt quitting for the second time.

After losing nearly 50 pounds through diet and exercise, and a year shy of my 40th birthday, I quit cold turkey in early 2009 and bathed in the accolades in having the strength to do so.

For the first few months it was really difficult. Although my exercise regimen improved briefly as I was able to breathe better than I had in years, I pretty quickly fell away from it and replaced the 50 pounds I lost with a gain of 60 over the course of six months.

I started smoking again last October and, while I staved off any additional weight gain haven’t had the courage to try again.

This summer I profiled Bill Eash, a successful graduate from the smoking cessation course Green hosts and he was a true believer. He quit using Chantix and assured me that, aside from what he believed were manageable side effects, he experienced no increased eating or serious withdrawal.

I expect to begin my regimen of Chantix Nov. 19 with a firm quit date of Nov. 28. My classmates and I will report weekly on our progress here.

The Eash story generally got a pretty positive response and, in talking with my classmates and Green, we’ve decided to produce kind of a chronicle of the class, profiling each of the members with their different struggles, stories, solutions and, with any luck, eventual success.

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