Quitting smoking

On-site patient educators at the centers will work with individuals in developing a quit plan and review the recommendations made by the clinician, said Miller. “It is at this point that patients are reminded that NYS Medicaid covers some stop-smoking pharmacotherapy.”

One of these is the nicotine patch, which steadily releases this highly addictive drug into the bloodstream and eases withdrawal symptoms like irritability, drowsiness and concentration issues. Nicotine gum and lozenges are also available over the counter, while inhalers and nasal sprays are prescription only, as are medications like Zyban — also sold as an antidepressant under the name Wellbutrin — which begins a week prior to quitting and continues for seven to twelve weeks, as does Chantix, the newest drug approved by the FDA.

Other help for smokers who are motivated to quit — always a key factor for success — is to practice the Five Ds: Delay the urge to smoke and it will pass. Drink water, chew gum or have a healthy snack to fight cravings. Do something distracting, like take a walk, call a friend, squeeze a rubber ball. Deep breathing relaxes one. Discuss your feelings with someone close to you.

In the beginning, it’s helpful to avoid personal triggers as much as possible. Such triggers can include being around other smokers, coffee, alcohol and stressful situations.

“Being aware and sensitive to those that are most vulnerable is important,” said Miller. “Such sensitivity is necessary when a person is dealing with issues of lower education and lower socio-economic challenges, as well as a mental-health issue, substance abuse or pregnancy…More time is dedicated to helping the patient understand why they smoke, and motivational, gentle steps are offered in hopes of guiding a person into considering or making a quit attempt.”

Interventions can help smokers quit. The stakes are enormous. “Tobacco-use disorders devastate lives and financial well-being, and constitute one of the largest public health problems the world faces today,” wrote Little and Robert Hoffmann in an abstract called “Trans-disciplinary Care: A New Approach to Improving the Effectiveness of Tobacco Use Interventions” in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. “Evidence suggests interventions which have been proven effective with the general population will work with underserved populations, if those interventions are made available…[and] information on tobacco use is tied into all areas of primary care, mental health, nutrition and oral health.”

For information about quitting call the state Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS or visit www.nysmokefree.com. The health centers, which accept most private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, do not turn anyone away regardless of insurance status. Locally, contact the Kingston Family Health Center at 338-6400, the New Paltz Family Health Center at 255-2930, the Family Practice Center of Port Ewen at 331-2355, the Ellenville Family Health Center at 647-4500, and the Family Practice Center of Hyde Park at 229-1020.

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