Study Aims to Lessen Teens’ Dependence on Tobacco

With around 3.1 million adolescents smoking, there remains significant reason for parents to seek intervention for addiction from a reputable program like Family Recovery Specialists. Now, the program has joined forces with a Drexel University professor in efforts to assist teens in lessening or stopping their dependence on tobacco at an early age.

The statistics make it clear just how critical well-timed intervention for addiction can be for teen and young adult smokers. Not only did 90 per cent of adult smokers take up the habit in their teen years, but tobacco use can cause particular harm to adolescents, given the brain’s continuing development into a person’s mid-’20s. Those are the warnings of Suzan Blacher, an assistant professor in the online RN-BSN Program at the College of Nursing and Health Professions, who also wants to encourage greater awareness and research relating to tobacco use among this age group.

It is to this end that Ms. Blacher has initiated a new, hands-on program at Family Recovery Specialists, aimed at intervention for addiction among teen smokers. However, she is also a member of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA), to which she submitted a proposal describing her accompanying pilot study as having “significant potential to reduce and/or eliminate tobacco use among those living with addictive disorders.” The APNA subsequently selected the pilot program, entitled An Adolescent Tobacco Dependence Intervention and Cessation Program, among 13 others across the United States.

Teens participating in the intervention for addiction program will be able to access a range of resources, from peer support and educational seminars to yoga stress management and even medical support. Ms. Blacher has also signaled an intention to test the CO2 levels of participants at the start of the program, given that an individual ceasing to use tobacco also usually coincides with their CO2 levels returning to normal. As an educationally based program, the aim is to teach participants the consequences of tobacco use for their health and development, alongside mobile and online resources.

The pilot program will run for around eight weeks through September 2014, with Ms. Blacher set to collect results and observations once the program finishes, in readiness for the annual national conference of the APNA at which she will present her findings. Ms. Blacher has previously run a tobacco dependence group, in addition to working as a certified addictions nurse and being a Smoke Free member of the American Lung Association. She therefore hopes that such a background will serve her well in setting up a successful intervention for addiction program that makes a real difference for teenagers with tobacco dependence issues.

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