Smokers kick butts, with a bit of tech help

Adam Burke, a health instructor at IntelliTec, has the auricu

Skye Flick had her last cigarette at 11 a.m. Thursday. At the time, she didn’t realize it was her last — she was having auriculotherapy at 1 p.m. and wasn’t allowed to have cigarettes in those two hours — “so I would have had one more if I’d known,” she said, laughing.

But it was time, and she was ready. A while back, her 5-year-old son put a lollipop stick between his lips and told her, “Look, Mommy, I’m smoking like you!” She’s been trying to quit since then.

Flick, 25, got some help with her goal Thursday, which was the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. IntelliTec, where she is studying medical coding transcription, paid the $120 per person fee for her and more than 60 other IntelliTec students and staff to receive auriculotherapy from DC Stop Smoking Center.

In auriculotherapy, small electrical stimuli are applied to nerve points on the exterior of the ear, helping curb the body’s desire for nicotine, according to Dan McGhee of DC Stop Smoking Center.

He said that with 85 percent of people, only one treatment is needed, but, if they remain nicotine-free and need another treatment, it’s free of charge.

“We just think this is a great thing to do for our students and staff,” said Mike Grove, IntelliTec director. “Many are going to have trouble coming up with this $100. And being an ex-smoker myself, I think it’s a wonderful habit to quit.”

Flick, her fellow students, and IntelliTec staff members shared stories with familiar elements: starting young; trying to quit many times before; and relapsing.

Flick said she started sneaking cigarettes from her mom when she was 12. Adam Burke, 27, a medical instructor, said he also began using tobacco at age 12.

“I’ve quit several times,” Burke said. “It just never worked. I’d quit for a week or two, and I had every intention of doing whatever I could, but ...”

Janet Fenn, also a medical-coding-transcription student and a smoker for more than 40 years, said she finally just got fed up with how cigarettes were controlling her, and she was tired of spending $50 per week on a carton of cigarettes. She had planned to quit for a while, slowly cutting back on the number she smoked every day and stopping smoking inside her home. By Thursday, she was ready to leave the pack of Marlboro Golds and two lighters on a classroom table at IntelliTec.

“There are 10 puffs in a cigarette and 20 cigarettes in a pack,” said Cherlyn McGhee of DC Stop Smoking Center. “That’s 200 times a day at least that you’re doing something with a cigarette in your hand. We have to recognize you’re changing a habit.”

Cherlyn McGhee said the physical nicotine cravings pass after 96 hours, and the auriculotherapy helps get past that hurdle. However, quitting also is about changing habits, counteracting thoughts of smoking with positive actions and affirmations emphasizing that life is better without tobacco, she said.

Thursday, many crossed that first hurdle.

“I’m happy to introduce myself as a nonsmoker,” Fenn said.


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