Smoking has historically been a coping and social addiction. Soldiers are one of the most prevalent groups, as the latest tallies put veteran smoking dependency at about 60 percent compared with approximately 25 percent of U.S. citizens.
With artery, pulmonary and vascular diseases as well as cancer killing off smokers, more varied measures of treatment are needed. The dependency for many veterans is still hard to break.
Twenty-three middle-aged veterans participated in a residential smoking cessation treatment study at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Although the four-day treatment was shorter than similar pilots of its kind, success rates were almost equitable, if not entirely promising.
According to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, “Smoking abstinence on the quit date increases the chance of long-term abstinence 10-fold.”
The study authors believe residential therapy provides a controlled environment presumably free of smoking triggers on the quit date. They theorized corporate motivation in a remote environment, coupled with frequent intervention methods, would enhance success.
The participating group had a median age of 57, with 61 percent white and 39 percent black. The veterans in the study began cigarettes at 15 on average, and most were up to around 25 smokes a day. Three participants had a history of alcohol addiction, three had post-traumatic stress disorder, and three had depression.
The program, “Camp Kick Butts” had one attendant on duty. Capitalizing on the former soldiers’ comrade mentality, participants were admitted in groups of eight and paired with a “buddy” for accountability. The residence lodge also featured a central common room with a camp-like ambience.
Schedules were tightly structured to redirect attention from cigarette cravings. Group and individual behavior modification counseling; rationed nicotine replacement and nutrition, exercise and coping strategies were given daily.
Nicotine patches and nicotine inhalers were used to manage cigarette withdrawal symptoms and adjusted daily based on the patients’ self-report of cravings. Daily baseline carbon monoxide levels were measured.
The study’s findings
Participants were asked during follow-up intervals at discharge, one, three and six months after the study whether they smoked since their four-day stay, and carbon monoxide levels were measured.
The veterans demonstrated nearly 50-70 percent increase in knowledge after info sessions; about 90 percent rated group sessions as excellent, and the group unanimously agreed four days was long enough to achieve the goal. All agreed he would not be able to quit without residential treatment, with other “campers.”
Nevertheless, the six-month abstinence rate was 26 percent. By the authors’ standards, considering these were chain smokers with smoking-related diseases, the study was successful.
The study authors surmise cessation rates were lower than other known programs because the veterans were not financially vested in treatment; allotted nicotine doses were higher in this program, and this pilot did not utilize antidepressant/smoking cessation prescription Bupropion.
The authors were concerned the program length might hinder patient’s success. However, participants reported relapse due to common stressors at home, which authors note would be faced after any duration of treatment.
There is strength in numbers indeed, especially when it comes to recovery, but treatment tailored to the individual looks to be the only guarantee of success.
The Sovereign Health Group is a nationwide treatment provider spearheaded here in California. We specialize in mental disorders and co-occurring issues like substance abuse and eating disorders. Sovereign offers residential, partial hospitalization and outpatient treatment alike to meet the individual’s unique recovery necessities.
About the Author
Sovereign Health Group staff writer Kristin Currin is a mindful spirit swimming in metaphysical pools with faith as her compass. Her cover: a 30s-something Cinderella breadwinner of an all-sport blended family. Her repertoire includes writing poetry, lifestyle articles and TV news; editing, radio production and on-camera reporting. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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