FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Since the age of 13, Yevette Lash had been a smoker.
But a couple of weeks ago, she finally kicked the habit thanks to the smoking cessation class at the Northside Hospital Forsyth campus.
Lash, now 50, said she heard about the class last year while her mother was at the hospital from surgery.
She didn’t like the smell or cost of the habit, so she decided to start the class after she moved to Georgia from Texas.
“I figured since I was changing so much anyway, I might as well try to stop smoking,” Lash said. “We used to hear about the warnings from the Surgeon General. But this was something where they actually teach you what makes you go and smoke a cigarette.”
The seven-week program, offered for a small fee, educates the participants on their triggers and how to cope with stress while developing a deeper understanding of their own self.
During the fourth week, dubbed “Quit Week,” the class gathers at Northside to toss their last packs and lighters into the trash, learn from a respiratory therapist about benefits of quitting smoking and take a carbon monoxide test.
“The biggest thing that gave me hope was that after so many years of not smoking, your lung tissue goes back to being normal,” Lash said. “That was the key for me. In a short amount of time, I could turn things around. I had the support from the other teammates in the class.”
Kyeda L. King, an oncology clinical social worker at the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute,
tailors the program for each participant based on their personal needs.
“Usually when people have an addiction, it’s because of something else going on in their lives or something they’ve experienced,” King said. “My role is to uncover and address that and give alternatives to the situation.”
The class doesn’t sugar coat quitting, but it is still professional and to the point, Lash said.
“It’s different for every person,” Lash said. “What I take away from it, someone else may take something else away. If you fall off the wagon, it’s OK. You just get back up. There is no shaming, just support.”
And for Lash, she said it’s been successful for her. This is the second time she’s gone through the class because the first time she missed Quit Week while in Florida.
She said she smoked because she was anxious. She was able to get off her anxiety medication, but the smoking was the only thing left.
“I went back because I needed that extra support and go through the quitting part,” Lash said. “You’re saying goodbye. For me, that was my key because I’ve tried to get rid of everything unhealthy and this was one of my last steps.”
Over the three years King has led the program, she said it’s grown from sporadic classes to now six sessions a year. Part of the success is due to follow up calls to ensure the participants have the tools they need to continue being smoke free.
“Usually when you’re doing something by yourself, it can be a little bit more challenging,” King said. “But when you have the support of a group and people who are experiencing the same thing at the same time, it builds a bond and it helps everyone share what they’re going through which helps people be more successful.”
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