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New Digital Solutions Address the Nicotine Addiction Epidemic

Dr. Julia Hoffman

10.07.19

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Nicotine addiction, vaping, and the effects of smoking continue to make headlines. As a parent and a clinician, the prevalence of smoking is incredibly concerning, as are the unknown long-term side effects of new delivery methods of nicotine. What we do know is smoking is the number one preventable cause of death for Americans[1] and it affects every organ in the body[2]. Yet, according to the CDC, more people in the U.S. are addicted to nicotine than any other drug[3].

Today, Livongo for Behavioral Health by myStrength is proud to announce the addition of Nicotine Recovery to our digital behavioral health solutions. This new program covers combustibles, smokeless tobacco products, and vaping. The Nicotine Recovery program uniquely offers a proven approach to current Members who are nicotine-dependent and a platform for new Members who may be interested in starting their nicotine recovery. The program is specifically designed to be non-judgmental, inclusive, and to provide a positive approach to nicotine recovery.

Studies show that physical health and behavioral health are two sides of the same coin and in fact, they cannot be treated separately. At Livongo, our mission is to empower people with chronic conditions to live better and healthier lives and our integrated platform is proactively addressing the needs of the whole person. We started with diabetes management and have since expanded to hypertension, prediabetes, weight management, and most recently, behavioral health.

With our acquisition of the myStrength digital behavioral health platform, we’ve been able to bring behavioral health conditions including depression, anxiety, stress, substance use, chronic pain, and insomnia to Livongo’s Applied Health Signals solution. We know that people living with chronic conditions are more likely to also have behavioral health conditions and by offering a clinically validated solution that addresses both, we can empower our Members to better manage all aspects of their health.

Learn more about the Nicotine Recovery program here.

WHY NICOTINE RECOVERY?

According to the CDC, the cost of nicotine use is estimated at $300 billion a year. This includes almost $170 billion in direct medical care for adults and an estimated $156 billion in lost productivity due to premature death and exposure to secondhand smoke[4]. Vaping and e-cigarette use is contributing to rising rates of nicotine addiction among youth and research has linked vaping in youth and young adults to future use of combustibles (cigars/cigarettes/pipes)[5]. As a result, the number of adult nicotine users is on the rise and the subsequent economic impact is immense. Unfortunately, the number of people who vape increased from 7 million in 2011 to 35 million in 2016. The market research group Euromonitor estimates that nearly 55 million adults will vape by 2021[6].

EVIDENCE-BASED PROGRAM SUPPORTS COMORBID BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CONDITIONS

For those addicted to nicotine, recovery can be incredibly difficult, and this is further exacerbated by the presence of a co-occurring behavioral health condition. People with depression, anxiety, and similar disorders consume almost 40% of the cigarettes sold in the United States and comprise nearly 200,000 of the 435,000 nicotine-related deaths in the U.S. annually[7].

Many smoking cessation solutions in the market today are not evidence-based. Those that are – like Quit Lines, which offer comprehensive treatment for cessation at low or no cost – are under-utilized with only ~1.2% of smokers using the service[8].

Our Nicotine Recovery program delivers gold-standard evidence-based tools for nicotine addiction and the various conditions and life stressors that can make quitting even harder. The program was designed by renowned nicotine recovery expert Dr. Amy Lukowski, licensed psychologist, Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist (CTTS), and a Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) trainer. Dr Lukowski has over 12 years of experience working clinically with individuals and populations and built the nicotine recovery program based on proven approaches that truly get to the heart of behavior change.

We know nicotine addiction is physically and emotionally taxing, and we’re here to help with a comprehensive set of tools that address nicotine recovery and co-occurring behavioral health conditions, no matter what stage of quit readiness our Members are in.

To learn more about our new Nicotine Recovery focus area, please join our expert, Dr. Amy Lukowski for a live webinar, Digital Tools for Nicotine Recovery: Combustibles, Smokeless or Vaping at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, October 16th. This webinar provides a glimpse into the impact and prevalence of nicotine use in the U.S. healthcare system and the economic significance of current and long-term trends, as well as a demonstration of the new Nicotine Recovery program. Register for the webinar here.


[1] Gfroerer J, Dube S, King B, Garrett B, Babb S, McAfee T. Vital Signs: Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years with Mental Illness — United States, 2009–2011. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2013:81-87. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6205a2.htm?s_cid=mm6205a2_w. Accessed August 18, 2019.

[2] CDC. Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Atlanta: CDC; 2018. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm. Accessed August 19, 2019.

[3] CDC. Quitting Smoking. Atlanta: CDC; 2017. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/cessation/quitting/index.htm. Accessed August 18, 2019.

[4] CDC. Fast Facts. Atlanta: CDC; 2019. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm. Accessed August 19, 2019.

[5] Truth Initiative. E-cigarettes: Facts, stats and regulations. Washington, DC: Truth Initiative; 2018. Available at: https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/emerging-tobacco-products/e-cigarettes-facts-stats-and-regulations. Accessed August 18, 2019.

[6] Jones, L. Vaping – the rise in five charts. BBC. 2018. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-44295336. Accessed August 18, 2019.

[7] Schroeder S. Moving Forward in Smoking Cessation: Issues for Psychiatric Nurses. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. 2009;15(1):68-72. doi:10.1177/1078390308330843.

[8] Asvat Y, Cao D, Africk J, Matthews A, King A. Feasibility and Effectiveness of a Community-Based Smoking Cessation Intervention in a Racially Diverse, Urban Smoker Cohort. American Journal of Public Health. 2014;104(S4):S620-S627. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302097.

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