During the fall of 2012, an actor friend of mine told me about a smoking cessation study she was participating in and told me I should look into it. I knew I needed to quit smoking for my health and if I could get paid for my time and cut my cigarette expenses then that was just an added incentive. I figured I had nothing to lose.
I contacted the research company responsible for administering the medical clinical trial and they pre-screened me by asking me some basic questions about my medical history. Since I had no medical problems and I was not on any prescription medications, they said I was a prime candidate for the study. We scheduled a time for me to go to the office so they could give me a physical examination to verify that I was indeed healthy enough to participate in the study.
I went through the standard physical examination that any general practitioner would administer and then they added two new steps to the process. I was asked to breathe into a machine that measured my lung capacity and I also had to spit into a vile so they could measure the amount of nicotine in my system. The lung capacity test was eye-opening. I was at a third of the capacity of a non-smoker. That alarmed me.
A few days later, the office got back to me and told me I qualified to participate in the study and I accepted the offer. For each office visit, I would receive $75 for my time. With each visit, I would receive cigarettes that were designed to help smokers quit except I nor the people administering the trial knew if I was receiving the actual cigarettes that were pending FDA approval or placebo cigarettes. I would come in every week and they would take my vitals, check my lung capacity, and give me the spit test to monitor nicotine levels. With each passing week, they would cut the amount of cigarettes that they would dispense in half, but I could come by and pick up more if I needed them.
It was go time for this smoker. I tried my first experimental cigarette in the parking lot after my first visit and it tasted awful. It had a menthol-like taste but it satisfied me….mostly. During the first few weeks of the study, I was dying; I was not actually dying, but I felt awful due to nicotine withdrawals. I clearly was not getting my usual nicotine and it was altering my mood. I was sweaty, irritable, and on edge. But I did not go back to my usual brand during the entire duration of that 18-week study. By the ninth week of the study, I was entirely weaned off of smoking the experimental cigarettes and I was doing great. I had energy and hundreds of dollars in my pocket that I would not have had if I had not done the study. By the end of the 18-week medical clinical trial, my lung capacity was near that of a non-smoker. This medical clinical trial helped me quit smoking by letting me go through the motions of smoking as a crutch to get me through the rough patch until I realized that I did not actually need nicotine anymore.
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