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Margaret R., a person served by Pittsburgh Mercy Family Health Center, has been smoke free for six months and counting! She had smoked for 45 years and decided it was time to make this healthy lifestyle change in January 2020.
The timing couldn’t have been better. People who use tobacco products, including those who vape, may be at increased risk if they contract COVID-19. Researchers from University of California, San Francisco found that smoking nearly doubles the rate of COVID-19 progression.
In the past, Margaret has used the nicotine patch and lozenge to assist her with her nicotine cravings. But, for her final quit attempt in January, she decided to quit cold turkey. Margaret expressed that the most challenging hurdle to overcome during her journey was being able to break the habit, since smoking became a part of her daily routine. Keeping busy and applying the 12-step program to her smoking habit led her to great success.
Margaret offers some advice to give to individuals who are in the early stages of quitting their tobacco use.
“Do it now, because smoking can cause several health concerns in the future,” she said. “Nicotine was the hardest substance to quit, but if I can do it, anyone can do it.”
Since Margaret overcame her habit of smoking, she was able to attend her son’s wedding and is now anxiously awaiting the arrival of her first grandchild who is due in October! Margaret’s quit journey displays dedication, hard work, and much earned success.
Since COVID-19 changed things in March, the Tobacco Cessation team at Pittsburgh Mercy has been teaming up with programs, both within and outside of the organization, to continue to offer valuable support to those that use tobacco products. From Service Coordination to Outpatient Therapists to Residential Programs, and even school districts and other groups, the numbers of referrals continue to increase and we are ready to help support individuals in any possible way that we can.
Whether it is via phone sessions, coordinating delivery of vouchers for free nicotine replacement therapy – the patch, gum, or lozenge, education on available supports for when the person is ready to quit, we are here! The level of teamwork and coordination of care and referrals is higher now than ever and speaks volumes to the work we do here at Pittsburgh Mercy.
To everyone who is starting or in the process of overcoming a challenge, there will always be some bumps along the road, but a journey isn’t meant to be easy. Never feel discouraged, keep your head up, and never give up. Those three things will get you closer to achieving your goals.
Need help quitting? To access tobacco cessation resources or arrange a free consult, please contact these cessation specialists: Taylor Elrick, 412-224-3742; Erin Rectenwald, 412-999-8692; or Mike Luxemburger, 412-298-1521.