NEWS | Aug. 21, 2018

Breaking the habit: 628th MDG offers program to quit smoking

By Airman 1st Class Joshua R. Maund Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Are you a user of tobacco products and want to quit? The 628th Medical Group Behavioral Health Optimization Program may have a solution.

According to the American Lung Association, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S., killing close to half a million people each year.

The BHOP Smoking Cessation Program is available to all Joint Base Charleston community members regularly treated at the 628th Medical Clinic.  The program combines nicotine replacement therapy and behavioral analysis to help combat cravings, providing members with the optimal conditions to kick the habit.

“It’s important that users want to quit,” said Anne Edens 628th MDG psychologist. “You can’t quit if you don’t try.”

New patients are required to call and register with the ALA in order to receive their nicotine replacement, whether that be patches, gum or medication. Each patient is matched with an ALA coach who acts as an advocate for the patient when urges arise.

Technology can also help kick the habit. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has developed a free smartphone application called Stay Quit Coach. The app offers interactive tools to help users cope with urges to smoke and support contacts to help stay tobacco free.

“Smokers that are serious about quitting should arm themselves with as many resources as possible,” said Edens. “The Stay Quit app can be a useful aid in a patient’s arsenal.”

The program emphasizes that medication alone will rarely work. Through conditioning, users of tobacco products learn behaviors over a period of time, making the addiction both a mental and physical battle.

“Tobacco users must identify the triggers within their environment and everyday lives in order to alter learned patterns,” said Edens. “Removing lighters, ash trays and letting friends and family know that you are quitting are major steps in the right direction.”

Although use of tobacco products have decreased steadily and America’s attitude has changed, the latest figures from the Center for Disease Control estimate the 15 percent of American adults still smoke. In certain demographics, such as enlisted military personnel, that number is even higher.

 “Negative consequences from smoking can impact more than a person’s physical health,” said Michelle McMeekin Joint Base Charleston community support coordinator. “It can create a domino effect on the service member's mental, social and spiritual fitness areas as well. The opportunity to participate in a program with so many tools to quit could be life changing!”

For more information or to set up an appointment, consult your primary care physician or the BHOP by contacting the 628th MDG appointment line at (843)-963-6880.