Addiction Resolutions

Addiction Resolutions
Dr. Phil talks to a woman who can't stop smoking, even though her mom has lung cancer.
"I started smoking in college. I just picked it up and have not been able to put it down since," admits Melanie, who has two kids. "My mom smoked for 25 years and is dying of lung cancer and I still can't quit smoking."

Her mom cries, "It just breaks my heart because my life's going to be cut short. I won't see my grandchildren grow up."

Melanie says that being there for her mother through chemo and radiation has been hard. "I had no way to deal with the stress. A cigarette is my only stress reliever," she confesses.

Kyrsten, her 11-year-old daughter, fears for Melanie's life. "It makes me really sad and nervous thinking about if my mom gets sick," she says.

Melanie has used the patch and nicotine gum, but was unable to kick the habit. "I usually start back within three weeks to two months," she reveals. "Stress comes on, being a single mom. Having to work hard. Most of the time, I have two and three jobs. I think I use my cigarettes as a crutch."

She turns to Dr. Phil for help.
Dr. Phil wants to understand why even though Melanie intellectually understands the harm she's doing, she continues, behaviorally, to self-destruct.

Melanie replies, "My theory is I don't handle stress very well, and it's the only way that it relaxes me through all of this."

"A small immediate reward is more powerful than a long-term penalty that's huge," Dr. Phil explains. He tells her to focus on step three of the seven steps for breaking an addiction: Use alternate coping skills. "What you want is not the cigarette. What you want is the effect. If you found a way to get the effect differently and it didn't have a downside, would you embrace that?"


"You tried to break the smoking habit and you didn't put anything in its place. Nothing will make you successful unless and until you find something is just as good, just as effective and just as powerful as smoking has been for you."Dr. Phil tells Melanie that the American Lung Association has an excellent seven-module plan to stop smoking. "You need stress management tools. You have the ability to quiet yourself. You have the ability to reduce stress levels in your body in a way that smoking does for you now," he points out. "You can learn the breathing skills and techniques that you need. Instead of reaching for a cigarette, you can do these exercises."

In addition to referring Melanie to the American Lung Association's seven module plan to quit smoking, he suggests that she clean out her environment. "If you have no cigarettes around you, then you can't reach for one and smoke it. That is a time that you go sit down and do your relaxation exercises, do your breathing exercises instead. If you get through that two or three moments of impulse, I promise you it will go away."

Dr. Phil stresses that it's not about willpower; it's about programming. "What you've done before is white knuckle this. What I want you to do now is truly, truly program yourself to change it."

Click here for the American Lung Association's free online quit smoking program, Freedom From Smoking.
Dr. Phil surprises Melanie with a phone call from her mother: "I just wanted to let my daughter know how proud I am of her to try to take these steps because I know it means a lot to her. I love you, Melanie."

Dr. Phil responds, "I want you to know, Mom, we are leaning on her really hard to be an example to the millions of people that are watching to embrace the steps that I've outlined, to truly program herself for success here."

"God bless you, Dr. Phil."

"I want you know that you're in our prayers and we wish you the best."