How many times have you thought “I need to quit smoking!”? Did you quit, only to begin again? Have friends and families encouraged you to quit, but you haven’t listened?

Quitting tobacco use is a difficult thing.

Just ask Janice Schroeder. An OBX resident since 1994, Schroeder began smoking when she was 19 years old. Back then, a pack might last three weeks. Over time, Schroeder smoked a pack a day. Through the years, she has tried to quit either cold turkey or with smoking cessation aids like Zyban, Wellbutrin and patches. Nothing worked.

In October 2017, The Outer Banks Hospital (TOBH) advertised a Lunch and Learn featuring Maher Karam-Hage, MD, an addiction specialist from the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Ironically, Schroeder knew of Dr. Karam-Hage and the Tobacco Treatment Program because she had family members who had been patients at the clinic.

Her familiarity with the program and her desire to quit smoking drove her to attend the Lunch and Learn. Little did she know that this presentation would change her life. Following the event, she immediately made an appointment with TOBH’s Tobacco Treatment Program.

The program is co-led by Marielle Silk, a family nurse practitioner at TOBH Occupational Health and Wellness, and Stephanie Ryder, a social worker at TOBH. Both are nationally certified tobacco treatment specialists who utilize a combination of education, counseling and non-nicotine prescription medications that, along with support, can help you quit smoking. As Schroeder notes, “The educational component is really important. It makes you think about your life goals and the reasons you want to quit. The homework was extremely helpful.”

Originally, Schroeder attended the program once a week, but she is now down to once every three weeks. She knows that if she needs one of the specialists, they are just a phone call away.

Schroeder is doing well. She has no desire to smoke anymore. She feels better and can breathe easier. Her vascular physician, who has continuously tried to get her to quit smoking, notices a positive change in her lab work and blood pressure readings.

“I wish I had done this years ago. This program has helped me tremendously!” says Schroeder. No longer controlled by smoking, Schroeder is amazed by how much more free time she has to enjoy other activities.

What does Schroeder advise others who are thinking about quitting? “Get mentally ready. I was—and look at me now.” If you would like more information about our Tobacco Treatment Program or to make an appointment to get started, please call 252-449-5978.