Kicking the habit

Hospital program helps those who smoke, chew to quit

Danie Harrelson

— A program offered by the Yampa Valley Medical Center aims to assist people who want to quit smoking.

Whether it is their first or their fifth attempt to quit, people looking for a new approach to giving up tobacco for good are encouraged to enroll in the six-session seminar.

The “Stop Smoking/Stop Chewing Tobacco” program begins Tuesday and runs from noon to 12:45 p.m.

Five additional sessions follow on Jan. 17, Jan. 22, Jan. 24, Jan. 31 and Feb. 7 at the same time.

Each session builds on the previous session, said psychologist Barb Dickson-Parnell, who teaches the program.

Because people smoke for different reasons, she said, different strategies must be used to counter their addiction.

People might try seven or eight times before they actually quit smoking or chewing tobacco, she said.

It’s important that people keep that statistic in mind and not be discouraged by earlier attempts to quit, Dickson-Parnell said.

Participants will be asked to avoid all tobacco products on the Monday before their third Tuesday session, and they will share their experience with their instructor at the Jan. 22 meeting.

“They quit that day so they know what it is like,” she said.

Dickson-Parnell said she presents a psychological perspective to overcoming tobacco addiction because the hardest part of quitting is the psychological withdrawal that follows a tobacco-free lifestyle.

Although nicotine completely leaves the body within seven to 14 days of ingestion, people must still deal with the withdrawal symptoms, urges and relapse.

The tobacco cessation program began two years ago to give Yampa Valley Health Plan members who wanted to stop smoking the resources to quit, said Lisa Bankard, wellness coordinator at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

The program provides a group setting for people to learn ways to develop a plan to quit using tobacco, Bankard said.

A support group of former participants formed as a result of the program, she said.

Medical prescriptions to help curb nicotine cravings will be discussed but the program will primarily focus on the development of tobacco cessation plans.

“We encourage people to look at it differently,” Bankard said.

The six-session program, which is held at the hospital’s conference room 3, costs $36 for Yampa Valley Health Plan members and $54 for nonmembers.

To reach Danie Harrelson call 871-4208

or e-mail

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