Addiction is a horrible thing, but for smokers, there may be a local solution that could change lives. I’m Ethan Hammerman and today, for the first Pulse of the New Year, here’s a new program that is taking Providence by storm and hoping to help those who need it to kick their cigarette habits.
For anyone, the battle to quit smoking is one of the most difficult to fight. Temptations lie around every corner and sometimes chewing nicotine gum or wearing a patch just are not enough to completely kill an addiction. Luckily for Providence residents, the Providence Community Health Centers have initiated a new program that both empowers people to make correct personal decisions and creates a group environment through which members of the group can hold each other accountable for their actions.
Sally Mendzella, a tobacco treatment specialist with the Providence Community Health Centers, explained why the program is so effective.
“There is a curriculum that we follow, but we want people to not only have input but to have buy in,” she said. “And in order to do that, we sort of follow their lead on a week-to-week basis in terms of what we’re talking about and in terms of what we want them to get out of it. So if someone starts coming in and talking about ‘Well I’ve had a pretty good week but I noticed that I’ve been eating more,’ well then we’re going to talk about weight gain and we’re going to talk about that for that session.”
The program is specifically geared toward Providence residents who are uninsured or have minimal coverage from their providers. This grants them an equal opportunity to overcome their smoking habits and also helps them network with other people in the community.
Nicole Anderson is a participant in the stop smoking group. She originally heard about the program through a community email sent out by Mayor Angel Taveras which mentioned Tobacco Free Providence, the organization that is a driving force behind this program. Months later, she is now a fixture in the group, both as a participant and as a role model for other wannabe quitters.
“I think that hearing everybody else’s story as to how many times they’ve tried to quit and what worked and what didn’t, and having everyone come together at that same time every week and talk about what their struggles are, it’s sort of like you’re accountable to the group. That’s helped me a lot,” Anderson said. “I quit smoking four and a half months ago but I keep going to the group every Thursday because not only do I feel accountable to them to maintain my non-smoker status, some of them have told me that I’m their inspiration. So I want to keep going because I’m committed to their quitting too.”
The program will remain open for all Providence residents until at least September. If anyone wants to hear more about it, they can call 780-2520 for more information. Many smokers simply feel alone when they try to quit, as if they have no support in the world. Now, through the PCHC, that support system may finally be there, ready and willing to accept a new member into its family.
For WBRU News, I’m Ethan Hammerman.