Smoking can be a tough habit to break, but with the right help it may be easier.
The Clay County Health Department is offering another Smoking Cessation Class, starting on Monday, Oct. 15, to help those interested in kicking the habit.
"What we try to do is use behavior modification to help people become non-smokers," Part-Time Staff nurse Linda Messmer said. "The psychological need to smoke can be just as great, if not more, than the addiction to nicotine itself. Many people try to quit at least five times before they are finally successful."
The Smoking Cessation has gone through some changes in recent months in order to increase the chances of quitting successfully.
"We used to hold one group meeting, then meet on a one-on-one basis at the Health Department," Messmer said. "We have now switched to the style approved by the American Lung Association where we meet in a group once a week."
Messmer said the new group approach appears to have an increased effect as they have additional support who understand what they are experiencing.
"In meeting individually, more than half the class seemed to fade out over time and only about 17 percent did not go back to smoking only three months after the conclusion of the class," she said. "Two-thirds of those who are in the current class continue to attend meetings with a couple weeks left, and appear to be on the right path to quitting for good."
Some of the symptoms of quitting are irritability, minor flu symptoms, fatigue, hunger and increased cravings for a cigarette, but there are simple ways in order to overcome them.
"The average craving only lasts 3-15 minutes, and by occupying yourself through walking or cleaning, the urge will pass," Messmer said. "The risk of going back is great as those who start smoking again usually end up smoking more than they did before trying to quit."
A recent study has shown that by simply walking only five minutes a day will reduce the urge to smoke greatly, but Messmer recognizes that everyone has their own way of coping with their urges.
"What works for one person may not work for someone else," she said. "However, by changing your daily patterns, even as simple as switching up when you drink your coffee or take a shower, can reduce the urge by redirecting your mind to focus on your new routine."
One main reason individuals have difficulty quitting is the fear of gaining weight.
"A person would have to gain 90-100 pounds for the health concerns to equal that of those who smoke," Messmer said. "This does not happen just from quitting smoking and should not be a major concern for those who do want to quit."
Those participating in the class have the option of using nicotine gum or the nicotine patch to assist them in their quest.
"We do provide the patch and gum, free of charge, for those in the class, but a note from your doctor or physician is needed before we give them out in order to ensure you are healthy enough to use them," Messmer said. "This is not a fail-safe option to quitting though. With any prescribed medication, there are side effects and this path may be the right one for each person in the class."
Messmer also said once a person quits, it does not mean they have quit for good.
"Even if you have quit for 22 years like I have, the cravings never completely go away, but by utilizing the behavior modification techniques we teach in the class, the chances of smoking again are reduced greatly," she said. "Many people try to quit at least five times before they are finally successful, so it is a long process, but I believe everyone can be successful in quitting smoking."
The first class will be Oct. 15, from 4-6 p.m., at Bethel United Methodist Church at 924 E. Pinckley, Brazil. There will also be a weekly class in the morning from 9-11 a.m., starting Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Clay County Health Department Office at 1214 E. National Ave., Brazil. Classes are once a week and last an average of an hour to an hour-and-a-half.
Those interested in the class must register by Friday, Oct. 12. Class size is limited to seven for the morning class and 12 for the evening class. If greater interest is shown, another class may be added on Tuesday nights.
For more information about the class or quitting smoking in general, contact the Clay County Health Department at 448-9019.