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Practicing Spirituality may Help Smokers to Quit

Unlike many traditional alcohol and drug dependence treatment programs, mainstream smoking cessation programs generally exclude spiritual practice and beliefs from the treatment process. But a study by Oregon Health & Science University Smoking Cessation Center researchers reveals many smokers are receptive to and may benefit from their own spiritual resources, when attempting to quit.

The study, believed to be the first to look at the potential use of spiritual resources for quitting in adult smokers, recently was published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

For decades, the OHSU research team encountered some patients in clinical practice who reported that in addition to the treatments provided by the team, they used personal spiritual beliefs and practices in their quit attempts. This led the team to question why spiritual resources were not part of mainstream tobacco dependence treatment programs.

"We theorized the absence of spiritual resources in smoking cessation programs may be due to perceived resistance from smokers or, until recently, the social acceptance of smoking, which may have prevented patients and providers from considering the health effects of tobacco dependence as life-threatening," said David Gonzales, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study, and co-director, OHSU Smoking Cessation Center, OHSU School of Medicine.

"We know that smoking cessation medications coupled with behavioral interventions increase quit rates, but quitting is still difficult and some smokers need more support in order to quit successfully. We may be missing opportunities to assist these smokers."

Gonzales and colleagues discovered that women were more likely to report a spiritual practice or belief compared with men, but smokers of both sexes who smoked more than 15 cigarettes per day were more likely to be open to having their health care provider encourage them to use their own (the patient's) spirit
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