O's Smoking Challenge Update
Manager of an orthodontics office in Toledo
Age at first puff: 12
Past quit attempts: Wellbutrin, cold turkey
Lisa says: "I've tried to quit with meds before, but I don't like taking that route. For me, smoking is more of a social addiction than anything. The initial craving passes if you wait. On a girls' night out with my smoking co-workers, however, I'll light up. And I bum one to five cigarettes a day. I take only a few puffs. But I feel as though I have no self control."
Dr. Schroeder's suggestion: NRT gum or lozenges for when Lisa is out with the girls. (As in Sharon's case, this is probably enough.) Staying active on the message board is a good way to address Lisa's "social addiction"; rather than lighting up with her friends, she can identify with the ex-smoker group. "Her risk of weight gain, which she's concerned about, is low because she's a relatively light smoker," he says. Still, she should try to start an exercise program before she quits.
Linda Jourdan, 47
Machine operator in a stainless steel cutting factory in Hillsdale, Michigan
Age at first puff: 22
Past quit attempts: the patch
Linda says: "After finding the O board and quitting for five weeks, I started smoking again, right after my husband, Dale, began. Truthfully, I go through about two and a half packs daily. I don't think I'm strong enough to quit without my husband stopping—and my daughter, who lives with me, smokes as well. My husband has been sick lately and in the hospital with pneumonia—the cigarettes act as my calming nerve pill. It's a physical craving, too. I do wish I could make over my life and myself. But sometimes I just feel like a lost cause."
Dr. Schroeder's suggestion: Linda is another smoker who would benefit most from combination therapy—the patch, NRT gum or lozenges, and Zyban. Chantix alone is also an option. Linda has a tough challenge with her husband smoking, but perhaps his health problems will shake up the motivation.
One month later: Everyone but Ann is smoke-free (she plans to try again), with Sharon having gone the longest—four weeks. Okay, Lisa slipped once. "But smoking didn't make me feel better," she says. "As a matter of fact, it gave me a headache and nausea." And both Linda and her husband have stopped—double good news, says Dr. Schroeder. Even with all the quitting treatments available, he says, "changing your environmen—beginning to live like a nonsmoker—is one of the most powerful ways to kick the habit."
Note: Dr. Schroeder's suggestions should not be considered medical advice. If you need medical help to quit smoking, consult your physician.