Friday, July 25, 2014

What is a Tobacco Treatment Specialist and how can you help me quit smoking? Can't I just quit smoking on my own?

A Tobacco Treatment Specialist (TTS) is a person who has been specially trained in the treatment of nicotine addiction. I was trained at the Mayo Clinic. I also belong to a professional organization: The Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence(ATTUD). A TTS will use evidence based material (proven strategies) to help a smoker become smoke-free. One guideline that is used is the The Clinical Practice Guideline: Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence. This publication has delved into all of the research into tobacco treatment and has complied the best practices. Methods are rated A, B, C.

  • A = This method has been proven to work on a consistent basis.
  • B = These methods have conflicting information. 
  • C = No clinical controlled trials to show efficacy.


Many smokers do quit on their own, just like other addictions such as alcohol, cocaine and heroin. But many need help to kick their addiction, especially nicotine. I have had former heroin addicts tell me that heroin and/or alcohol were easier to quit than smoking.

Have you ever talked to a former smoker and asked what helped them to quit? They can tell you the long trial and error process they used and what ultimately worked for them. It doesn't mean that it will work for you. Working with a professional will shorten your learning curve in what will help you quit and stay quit.

Here is what you can expect when working with a professional Tobacco Treatment Specialist:

  • A detailed personal history. Every smoker is different. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to tobacco treatment, not even a one-size-fits-most. You will be asked about how much you smoke, for how long, your previous quit attempts, your medical and mental health history, previous or current substance use, your common triggers, assessment of your nicotine dependence and your perceived obstacles to quitting. 
  • From your detailed history, an individualized treatment plan is developed. It will include information of what medications may help and what practical counseling skills are needed for your particular situation including: emotional cues, dealing with stress, weight gain, handling withdrawals with or without medications, being around other smokers, and relapse prevention.
  • Motivation when times are tough. Some days you will feel that nothing can ever drag you back to smoking and other days you will feel that nothing will help except a cigarette. 
  • Explanations for any questions or myths related to smoking. I have had many clients whose doctors have told them that if they quit they would: breathe better, have lower cholesterol, their neuropathy will improve etc. yet they didn't believe their doctors. Why? Because their doctors didn't take the time to fully explain what smoking is doing to their body and how the body heals itself when you quit. 
  • Someone who understands how difficult it is to become smoke-free. While I am a former smoker having quit 9 separate times for at least 3 months and I personally know how hard it is, many TTS's have never smoked but with their specialized training and after working with countless smokers, they don't need to know what it is like. Just as an OB/GYN doctor doesn't need to know how it feels to be pregnant to deliver a baby. 
Signs that it is time to use a TTS instead of trying to quit on your own:
  • You have quit multiple times, only to relapse back to smoking. 
  • Have a history of other substance abuse and/or addiction, or a history of mental illness.
  • A sense of shame or guilt that you are still smoking. Shame is when you feel there is something wrong with you that you can't quit. Guilt is when you feel you should quit and want to quit, but are still smoking. These are normal emotions that a TTS can help you work through instead of letting these emotions stop you from moving forward. 
  • You've tried everything and nothing works. A TTS will help you cut through the "noise" of quitting, helping you focus on what will work. Too often a smoker relies on the latest fad or gimmick to quit instead of what will work, or will rely on just one tool instead of developing several coping strategies. A TTS will focus on the process of quitting, not just the method, since every method will work for some smokers, NO method will work for every smoker.  
Call me today at 760-333-1270 for a FREE 15 minute counseling session to see how I can help you. 

1 comment:

Robert R. Blevins said...

O my God....I can't see this any-more. Please spread message for avoiding smoking and drugs to the whole nation. People are damn dumb to get goad for smoking without thinking about their horrible death story. Thank you so much for sharing this valuable information. My younger brother was also addicted to smoking but now my parents are trying to relieve him from smoking cessation with hypnosis . May God help us