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The Key to Quitting Smoking or Vaping

RWJBarnabas health offers Free and Proven support for People Who Struggle With Tobacco or Nicotine Dependence.

Nicotine addiction is a powerful foe. The drug triggers a brief surge of endorphins—the feelgood hormones—each time it’s inhaled through a cigarette or an electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS), such as an e-cigarette or vaping device.

That pleasure dissipates quickly, leading to the urge for another inhalation. A pack-a-day smoker, for example, goes through this cycle about 250 times daily, creating an addictive reward system in both brain and body that causes dependence on nicotine. When the person tries to stop, withdrawal symptoms—irritability, attention difficulties, sleep disturbances and more—lead him or her to light up again, and the cycle continues.

Most people who are still smoking today have already tried and failed to quit five to seven times, according to Connie Greene, Vice President, RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) Institute for Prevention and Recovery.

“They may even feel a lot of shame and guilt because of that,” she says. “But the truth is, if people who are dependent on nicotine could quit on their own, they would have done so already.”Greene and her colleagues want these people to know that it’s not their fault. “They’re in the grip of a very insidious addiction, which may have a genetic component,” she says.

“But there is hope, and there is recovery. “The more times you’ve tried and the more you’ve been unsuccessful, the greater chance you have for success with our Nicotine and Tobacco Dependence Treatment Program.”

A NEW APPROACH
“We look at quitting as a process,” says Michael Litterer, Director of Prevention and Recovery at RWJBH. “It’s not as simple as making a decision and going cold turkey. In our program, we develop an individualized plan for each person who comes to us.” When a smoker contacts the Nicotine and Tobacco Dependence Treatment Program by phone or email, a certified tobacco treatment specialist will be there to help. “You don’t have to quit right away,” Litterer says. Instead, next steps can include:


• Individualized nicotine dependence assessment, focusing on triggers and stressors


• Ongoing support in both individual or group settings


• Access to a medical director on staff to assist with primary care coordination and prescription medications


• Free nicotine replacement therapy (nicotine patches, gum and lozenges)


• Recommendations and navigation for appropriate prescription nicotine dependence medications


• Assistance in understanding the real impact of ENDS devices and cigarettes


• Behavioral modification and assistance in managing or eliminating nicotine withdrawal symptoms “Most importantly, we will support people through the entire process of ending their nicotine or tobacco addiction. Relapsing and using nicotine during the quit attempt is sometimes part of the journey. We understand this,” Litterer says.

The program, which is funded by the New Jersey Department of Health Office of Tobacco Free, Nutrition and Fitness, does not charge participants. The most important thing for people to know, Greene says, is that they don’t have to try to quit alone. “Call the QuitCenter number, or send us an email,” she says. “We’ll take it from there.”

To learn more about reaching recovery from nicotine or tobacco dependence, call the QuitCenter line at 732.837.9416, or email quitcenter@rwjbh.org for a free confidential assessment. For more information visit here