BETTER AND EASIER WITH HELP: The importance of feeling accompanied to quit smoking

© Shutterstock
© Shutterstock

Spain is one of the countries of the EU with a highest rate of smoking. It has 34.4% of smokers over the age of 16, according to the national survey of health of the Ministry of health, social services and equality. Between 80,000 and 100,000 teenagers become addicted every day around the world, with an average of 13.3 years old and a daily consumption of 16.8 cigarettes. About 56,000 people die every year because of its direct cause. Lung cancer could become the leading cause of death among Spanish women facing breast cancer.

To face up this problem the AECC, Spanish Cancer Association, launches smoking cessation program. Gema Peñalber, psychologist oncologist of the ASCC of Alicante with a long experience in workshops to quit smoking describes us the details about these programs.

• What is the smoking cessation workshop?
It is a program to quit smoking thanks to AECC. It constitutes a protocol that develops a combination of pharmacological and psychological techniques for smoking cessation. The objectives are facilitating smoking cessation and promoting the maintenance of abstinent behavior, decreasing the likelihood of relapse.

• How long is the workshop? Could you detail us the stages?
First of all, an evaluation of the patient, which consists in a psychological interview, followed by 12 sessions. During these sessions there are 4 medical consultations; usually in the 2nd, 5th, 7th and 10th session, there is a co-Oximeter.

• What is the psychological treatment?
 Preparation phase and increase of motivation.
 Phase of abandonment, the patient begins to quit smoking.
 Relapse prevention, where we analyze the situations of risk.
 Follow-up stage.

• Do all of them initiate a drug treatment?
No they don’t, only 15%. The test Fagerström allows you to diagnose and quantify the level of tobacco dependence through smoking. Moreover, if consumption is high, we recommend the prescription of drug treatment. A doctor comes to prescribe the most suitable treatment to each patient; gum or nicotine, Bupropion patches / varenicline.

• What was the outcome of the workshop?
Around 70% of the patients stopped smoking. In my opinion it was a high percentage of effectiveness. As against alcoholism therapies have been made in group for many years, relatively recently, the same technique is being introduced to quit smoking. It has seen group therapy in able to increase the success of smoking cessation. I would like to quote some of the reasons:
1. The Group offers a space for emotional support, where each person could express freely himself or herself.
2. They make the decision in front of the rest of the group; it implies a higher level of responsibility.
3. Commitment and active attitude with the group, which would result in shame if they fail to quit smoking.
4. They learn to develop skills to deal with difficult situations.
5. Tracking of peers, ties of friendship.

Products derived from tobacco and cigarettes frequently, have come including more and more additives in recent decades. Substances are added to preserve moisture and preservatives, as well as a wide range of flavorings and other chemicals that alter the properties of tobacco and smoking experience. For this reason it is harder today to quit, and is important to support and to offer the widest range of services to quit. Both associations and pharmaceutical companies perceive the magnitude of this fact and offer plans to quit smoking, combined programs that include psychological and pharmacological therapies.
Bibliographic references:
1. http://www.msssi.gob.es/
2. http://www.aecc.es
3. Stead LF, Lancaster T Programas de terapia conductual grupal para el abandono del hábito de fumar (Revisión Cochrane traducida). En: La Biblioteca Cochrane Plus, 2007 Número 3. Oxford: Update Software Ltd. Available on: http://www.update-software.com. (Traducida de The Cochrane Library, 2007 Issue 3. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.).
4. Páez, M., Gutiérrez, O., Valdivia S. y Luciano C. (2006). Terapia de Aceptación y Compromiso (ACT) y la importancia de los valores personales en el contexto de la terapia psicológica. Internacional Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy. Vol. 6, 1, 1-20.
5. Brown, R. (2003). Intensive Behavioral Treatment. En Abrams, D., Niaura, R, Brown, R., Emmons, K., Goldstein, M. y Monti, P. (Eds), The tobacco dependence treatment handbook. Aguide to best practices.The Guilford Press. New York .