The aim of Bow Valley Primary Care Network's QuitCore program is to deliver the tools and skills that lead to successful curbing of tobacco addiction. However, an added bonus is not only putting an end to or reducing participants' tobacco use, but building a mentally and physically healthier, more active lifestyle helps prevent relapse and leads to better overall wellbeing.
Run as a course of six one-and-a-half-hour weekly sessions, QuitCore is delivered by PCN health professionals. The course teaches strategies for understanding tobacco addiction, behaviour modification, dealing with physical and mental recovery symptoms, and preventing relapse. The PCN team of facilitators includes a nurse, dietitian, pharmacist, active living consultant and a behavioural change facilitator.
A local QuitCore graduate, Gwenda Farrell, who participated in a PCN course in Canmore five years ago, has been tobacco free for two years. She plans to contribute insight from her personal story when the PCN runs its next QuitCore program, starting January 31, 2017. She says, "Initially I signed up just to please my daughter and I really didn't think I would be successful. It took some time to give up smoking completely, but what I discovered really helped. The course covered understanding why people smoke, triggers, tips for being successful and, very important, choosing to hang out with people who are supportive."
The PCN's Joan Kuziak, a Registered Nurse, is a trained QuitCore facilitator. She explains, "We begin by building awareness of how much a part of each person's daily life smoking plays, where to start making changes and techniques for doing so. This is followed by goal-setting, tailored to the individual, which might start with just giving up one cigarette a day."
Avoiding or redirecting urges
"In combination with counselling and support, the plans include behaviour modification, stress management, and nicotine replacement as well as ways of dealing with the effects of withdrawal," says Joan Kuziak. "Approaches include participants tracking times and situations when they are tempted to smoke and helping them find ways of avoiding or redirecting the desire, along with incorporating delay tactics."
Improved diet and nutrition advice, together with recommendations about including physical activity in daily routines are provided by the PCN's Registered Dietitians and Active Living Consultants. "Regular physical exercise can be a secret weapon to help people stop smoking as it helps deal with both the physical and psychological aspects of nicotine addiction. It can help limit weight gain as well as re-directing the cravings for a cigarette," says Kiley Torti, a PCN Active Living Consultant. "Moderate physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, reduces the urge to smoke. Withdrawal symptoms and cravings for cigarettes decrease during exercise and for up to an hour post-exercise. It also helps with stress management, improving quality of sleep and boosts energy and mood."
Eliciting support from friends and family members is important to personal success, while the encouragement from other QuitCore participants is a significant benefit of the program. Participants share concerns, roadblocks, ways of dealing with temptation and possible relapses. Gwenda Farrell continues, "As someone who took part in the program, I'm looking forward to sharing my own experience at the upcoming series in a non-judgemental, empathetic way. After all, I know what it feels like. I do understand the effort quitting involves and how encouragement helps."
The next QuitCore series runs from January 31 to March 7 2017, 6:00 to 7:30pm at Bow Valley Primary Care Network's central office in Canmore.
The course is FREE, but registration is required. To register sign up online (click on Sign up for a Workshop for listings) or call 403 675 3000.
Alberta Quits Helpline - 1-866-710-7848 The AlbertaQuits helpline is a free smoking cessation service for all residents of Alberta, open 8AM to 8PM seven days a week. Call 1-866-710-QUIT (7848) toll-free to receive confidential, non-judgmental support.