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Kicking the Habit The Charitable Pharmacy has a success rate of helping people kick the habit of smoking that is nearly twice the national average. Here are some of the success stories

Quitting smoking is difficult. It is both a physical and psychological addiction, and overcoming both is an ordeal that proves to be too difficult for almost everyone who tries. Nationally, the success rate of kicking the smoking habit hovers around 20 percent, and those numbers are even lower for many of the populations that use the Charitable Pharmacy.

Still, the Charitable Pharmacy's success rates for its tobacco cessation program is approaching 40 percent for those who finish the program. The secret to success? A combination of free nicotine replacement therapy with one-on-one counseling each month and weekly accountability phone calls.

Renee

Renee started smoking cigarettes when she was 16. Now, 56, she has finally kicked the habit. “I just want to shout it out to the world: ‘Hey! I’m a non-smoker!’” she laughed. Renee says she finally won the battle thanks to God, her own willpower, and the help of the St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy.

Renee had determined it was time to quit smoking — she had tried a few times before, unsuccessfully. The average tobacco user will try to quit 6 times before achieving success. “This time, I wanted to stop.” Renee had asked the pharmacist at the Charitable Pharmacy if they had anything to help her quit. That question could not have come at a better time. It just so happened the pharmacy’s first Tobacco Cessation Program had just started.

Renee received nicotine gum and received phone call checkups from staff and volunteers at the pharmacy. “They were a great help with calling, you know, that really does help.”

Rusty Currington, Pharmacy Manager at the Charitable Pharmacy says “Our tobacco cessation program is unique because we provide free nicotine replacement therapy with face-to-face counseling once monthly. Then, our pharmacy interns call the patients pursuing nicotine-free status weekly to check-in on their successes and struggles. We offer additional counsel-ing over the phone at these weekly checkpoints.”

Currently, 90 patients are enrolled in the program between both the Charitable Pharmacy and the Good Samaritan Free Health Center.

“We have seen a 40% success rate among those who have finished the program,” says Currington, “which is higher than the average success rate for tobacco cessation programs.”

While using tobacco, Renee sometimes had trouble catching her breath. She couldn’t exercise and she had coughing fits every day. It was also expensive. Her habit cost her about $7.75 a day.

Now, 3 months after quitting, she has saved $650 in cigarette costs, can breathe easier, and is working out at least twice a week. “I can do that now,” she said. “It’s a beautiful feeling.” With cigarettes out of her life, Renee now has a whole new world before her.

“I’ve always wanted to do a little mini-marathon …. I think if I continue to work out, that’s a goal for me.”

Luevenia

As part of her residency, Jessica was trained to lead SVDP’s Tobacco Cessation Program at the Charitable Pharmacy and Good Samaritan Free Health Center.

Jessica has been instrumental in helping 74 patients navigate their tobacco cessation attempt to increase their chances for success. Through her efforts, 19% of patients enrolled have completed the tobacco cessation program as non-smokers, nearly double the national average success rate!

Luevenia is one patient who brags about her newly gained “non-smoker status” after completing this program. For 36 years, she struggled to quit smoking until she asked for help at the Charitable Pharmacy. For five months, Luevenia received nicotine replacement products at no charge along with face-to-face education and support phone calls from pharmacists, the pharmacy resident, and interns.

“My family has a history of cancer,” she said, “so I knew I had to quit!”

Now that she is a non-smoker, Luevenia says, “I can exercise more, and I feel better. With the money I’m saving from not buying cigarettes, I am working on my house. I’ve already been able to buy the sink for my new bathroom!”

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