In Texarkana, a healthcare clinic is bringing smokers together in an effort to help them quit their habits. And, the group has a pretty good success rate so far.
75 year old Gary Nolte has been smoking for fifty seven years. He suffers from COPD. “It finally got to the point I just couldn’t breathe without having medication or stopping and catching my breath” he said.
Nolte has tried to quit smoking a few times and failed. But this time, he has some extra support. He said, “You don’t get the feeling you’re by yourself.”
Collom & Carney Family Nurse Practitioner George Burgess and Respiratory Therapist Karen Diles lead the group. Diles said, “Most people that smoke want to stop smoking. They just don’t know how to do it.” This is their second smoking cessation group so far. Burgess added, “For our first group, we had a seventy two percent quit rate.”
The group gathers for eight sessions, usually about once a week. They discuss coping with withdrawal and triggers. Burgess said, “We talk about situations socially to avoid to keep from smoking. There’s a very high relapse rate around alcohol for instance, since alcohol lowers the inhibition.”
Usually, members are prescribed medication to help them quit. Burgess said, “It’s a very addictive process, just as addictive as cocaine or heroin.”
In this group people can speak freely. “One person may have an idea of how to deal with triggers that another person hasn’t thought of yet,” Diles added.
As for Nolte, he hasn’t smoked for two weeks now. And, he has some advice for others who want to quit. “Get help. Talk to somebody that’s been there … and make up your mind that you want to do it. It won’t work unless you want to do it.”
Officials at Collom & Carney said the smoking cessation sessions are covered by most insurance plans and Medicare. For more information on how to sign up, call Karen Diles at (903) 614-3326.