State psychiatric hospitals go tobacco free - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

State psychiatric hospitals go tobacco free

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

THOMASVILLE,  GA (WALB) – On January 5th, 2010 seven psychiatric hospitals in Georgia will go tobacco-free. Officials at Southwestern State Hospital in Thomasville are already preparing for the change.

Starting today, staff and patients are being offered tobacco cessation classes. They're also making it easier for patients to quit smoking by providing nicorette gum, anti-smoking patches, and other products for free.

Nearly 75% of people with substance abuse disorders or mental illness smoke. And that works against their medication.

"Smoking affects the ability of the body to react to absorbing anti-psychotic medications. And when that happens it takes more medicines to be able to reach the same therapeutic level. So it creates a problem," said Hilary Hoo-you, C.E.O, Southwestern State Hospital.

Some patients will sign behavior contracts and receive rewards as they go through the process of quitting smoking. The hospital is also teaming up with the YMCA to offer exercise classes on campus so staff members can relieve stress. One of their big concerns with quitting smoking is gaining weight.

Officials at the hospital are currently going through the campus removing ash trays and other things that will remind patients of tobacco.

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