By Lillian Ling

Tobacco treatment specialist Christine Coscia.

These patches are essential to physically help overcome the body’s addiction to cigarettes.Christine Coscia

The IIIC invites you to a six-week smoking cessation support group lead by tobacco treatment specialist Christine Coscia and funded by the Boston Public Health Commission.

We all know that it’s tough to quit cold turkey – and tougher to quit alone. Stopping smoking is possible and we want to help you be successful! Research indicates that a smoker’s chances of success are increased greatly both by using a nicotine replacement tool (like patches) as well as a strong support network, like a group.

Why do it alone when we can offer a place where there are people around to help you along the way? The choice to stop smoking can be a team effort, and in this case, quitting is winning. The prize? A stronger physique, money saved, and the self-satisfaction of a personal victory.

Coscia is a skilled veteran in the war against smoking, having worked in the field for over ten years, as well as being a close friend to the IIIC’s Wellness and Education Services staff. Even though Christine was born in the US, she grew up with strong ties to Ireland, as her parents were both born there.

The Smoking Cessation Group is a six-week program designed to ease smokers away from the habit via goal-setting, the patch, and lots of friendly support. The first two weeks get participants ready for a designated “quit day”, usually within the third week. Free nicotine patches will also be provided.

“These patches are essential to physically help overcome the body’s addiction to cigarettes,” says Coscia. However, the patch is only a small part of big success. Support and motivation, as well as the promise and likelihood of developing friendships, are essential.

Of those who participated in past groups, more than 75 percent are still smoke-free.

“My main concern is that people feel comfortable enough to come back. I never want anyone to feel as though they’ve failed,” says Christine. “I want everyone to know that I’m available to offer suggestions, and help whenever it’s needed”.

Within the last two weeks of the program, much time is spent allowing members to speak freely about their progress and experiences, and to hear from others feeling the same things as themselves.

“The high rate of success is due to the open-door policy that allows for a safe and confidential environment,” says Danielle Owen of the IIIC.

Because of the comfort level generated by the small, intimate group settings, members of the Smoking Cessation Groups realize “that they have each other to rely on even after the group is over,” says Coscia.

Members of previous groups “still support and encourage each other to stay smoke-free for years afterwards,” she adds, and this sort of kinship usually translates into success stories for smokers who have joined and benefited from such groups.

For those ready to toss those cigarettes and flush that last pack, please register program by calling 617-542-7654.