Treating nicotine dependence as seriously as other forms of addiction

Packard is a certified tobacco treatment specialist working in treatment and education at the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center in Rochester, Minnesota, and serves as the program director for the Mayo Clinic Wellness Coach Training Program.

“I stand outside the entrance of the building… I’m focused on cigarettes — or, more precisely, smoking as many of them as possible in the time left before 4:30 p.m., when nine other people and I will hand over our packs and lighters, and put our faith in the Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center.”                                            —    Lynn Cunningham

I met Lynn Cunningham last January, 2014, when she checked in as my patient at the Residential Treatment Program for tobacco dependence at the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center in Rochester, MN. She shared with me that she knew herself well enough to realize that she needed a period of supervised abstinence for what she expected would be her last stop-smoking run.

She went looking for a residential smoking cessation program, first in Canada, and then in the U.S., making the point to me that these programs are “shockingly rare.” She says that the Mayo brand is what sold her, despite the prospect of a January week in Rochester, MN.

Ms. Cunningham is an associate professor emerita, having taught journalism at Ryerson University, Toronto, until September 2014. Before joining the university, she spent two decades as a magazine editor. Her writing career is more recent, dating from 2009; she favors memoir-style articles, of which her piece, “Giving up the Ghost,” published in the November issue of the Canadian publication The Walrus is an example.

Listen to an interview with Lynn Cunningham on the CBC “Q” program.