As the new year approached, many people began thinking about New Year's resolutions. To increase one's ability to make lifestyle changes, it's helpful to gain support, celebrate successes and not give up.

Sherri Fitzpatrick of Pendleton participated in a tobacco-cessation program in January 2005. She had smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes each day. Fitzpatrick tried numerous times to quit smoking.

"I had tried the patches and Wellbutrin (a prescription medication used to assist with withdrawal)," Fitzpatrick said. "I even went with my friends to be hypnotized."

She had high hopes hypnotism would work when friends told her they didn't even have the desire to smoke afterwards.

"I felt hopeless," Fitzpatrick said after trying hypnotism. "I couldn't wait to go outside and smoke another cigarette."

Although she felt hopeless, Fitzpatrick didn't give up on her quest to become a non-smoker.

Bob Clark, a Pendleton licensed clinical social worker, encourages people to remember lifestyle changes don't happen overnight.

"With quitting smoking, they say you have to really try four times to really succeed - that means try and fail and try and fail before you succeed," Clark said.

Former Hermiston resident Teri Briley had been encouraged by her physician numerous times to quit smoking. Like Fitzpatrick, she had several unsuccessful attempts and utilized different methods, including a nicotine patch and prescription medication.

Both women increased the likelihood their resolve to quit would be successful by gaining support and motivation from others.

Fitzpatrick enrolled in a tobacco-cessation program and began competing with a friend to see who could go the longest without smoking. Briley's husband, Mark, agreed to quit smoking too.

"The dream to become tobacco-free is possible when individuals take advantage of new ideas, techniques and enhanced support systems," Fitzpatrick said.

Previously, when Briley's stress levels increased, cigarettes were readily available because her husband still smoked.

"It was a lot easier when he decided to quit too," she said. "We quit on the fourth of July - it was our independence day from cigarettes."

That was a year and a half ago and they're still smoke-free. Fitzpatrick hasn't smoked for two years.

Both Fitzpatrick and Briley cite multiple benefits from giving up smoking, including clearer lungs, less illnesses and more money.

Fitzpatrick estimates she saves an average of $170 each week. The Brileys saved enough money that they rewarded themselves by taking a trip to England and the Netherlands.

"That's how we were able to go to London - we just put that money away," Briley said.

Dr. Doug Smith, a Hermiston therapist with more than 20 years experience, said a reward or consequence can be beneficial in the change process.

"The trick is to have a reward or loss that is greater than the strength of the addiction," he said.

Smith also thinks declaring one's goal to change is helpful.

"You almost actually make it happen by declaring it because you make a resolve or commitment by telling someone," he said. "Now you have two or three people you have to explain it to if you don't do it."


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