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Project CONNECT®

A Teen Nicotine Cessation Program

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1 Your Role
I want to learn about treatment options for:


2 Basic Information
The Person is:
years old


graduated high school

3 Condition Information
Caron Treatment Centers accepts patients aged 13 years or older. For more information on services available to those 12 and under, please learn more about Caron's Student Assistance Program.

Project CONNECT® is a nicotine cessation and reduction program developed specifically for teens.  Project CONNECT® was developed through the review of numerous teen tobacco cessation programs, research on behavior change theory and positive youth development approaches and by utilizing prevention and intervention models intended to address other risk behaviors. The development of this program was also guided by feedback from teen cessation group facilitators and cessation program participants. It was designed to motivate participants not only to participate in the program but also to ultimately make more positive choices, including changing their nicotine use, attitudes and behaviors.

Background

Caron Treatment Centers began Project CONNECT® in response to feedback from facilitators, students and school personnel regarding the need for adaptive nicotine cessation programs. Since 2001, Caron has provided adolescent nicotine cessation services to schools and youth-serving agencies. Even though these programs were successful in their overall reach, implementation fidelity could not be adapted to meet unique needs. Program developers began with a quantitative and qualitative review of the literature on current effective adolescent smoking cessation programs. They discovered that successful programs deal with the processes of change for individuals in all stages, yet they need to be broad enough to be directed by different facilitators in diverse settings. The vision driving development of Project CONNECT® was the creation of a program that included an array of helpful options from which a skilled facilitator can draw to build on and adapt to the cognitive processes of each participant in the program.

About the Program

The main goal of Project CONNECT® is to help participants plan, prepare and develop skills that will help them find their own success through the quitting process. The program utilizes Prochaska and DiClemente’s stages-of-change model and identifies the stage each participant is in upon entering the program, assesses the participant’s readiness to change and helps the participant move along the continuum with support and encouragement. Participants meet for approximately 45 minutes, once a week for eight weeks, and discuss and work on topics such as the health effects of nicotine use, goal setting, decision making, healthy lifestyle choices, resilience, stress management and social skills. The program increases the participant’s knowledge and awareness of the cycle of addiction and the benefits of quitting. The program is a supportive service designed to empower students to make better choices regarding their nicotine use. 

The following are the goals of Project CONNECT®:

  • Strengthen participants’ motivation to quit nicotine use and remain nicotine-free
  • Reinforce skills to help participants quit nicotine use and/or remain nicotine-free
  • Identify barriers to quitting nicotine use and remain nicotine-free
  • Bolster self-efficacy for dealing with obstacles
  • Develop personalized plans for success
  • Encourage evaluation of participants’ current behaviors
  • Introduce the decisional balancing process
  • Identify and promote positive, healthy lifestyle choices
  • Assist with identifying and utilizing support systems
  • Identify and assist with problem solving
  • Identify and promote resiliency factors

Program Format

For a curriculum to be effective, it is important that participants be engaged and actively involved in the learning process. To facilitate maximum participant involvement, an array of teaching techniques is utilized, including open discussion; demonstrations; role plays; short lectures; audiovisual presentations; and hands-on skill-building activities. These techniques were developed to be adaptable to diverse populations, and group facilitators are given the opportunity to choose those activities that will best suit the needs of their respective groups. Creativity and diversity in implementation can also be achieved by integrating real-life or group-specific experiences, questions or concerns into the established lesson plans. As the program is intended to be sensitive to each participant’s readiness to change, Personal Plans for Success will be distributed, and participants are encouraged to develop their own personalized plans that define their specific goals, challenges and achievements throughout the course of the program. This personalization allows each participant to define success in his/her own unique way and take ownership of individual progress. In this way, participants will CONNECT with SUCCESS.

Click here to download the Project Connect postcard.
Session Overview

SESSION 1: Making the Connection
Session 1 introduces participants to the Project CONNECT® program. Activities and assessments in this session will increase participants’ awareness of their personal nicotine use, assist with information gathering and provide a baseline for measuring learning outcomes, attitude and behavior changes throughout the program.

SESSION 2: The Health Connection
Session 2 of Project CONNECT® will focus on the health consequences related to nicotine use and the benefits associated with quitting.

SESSION 3: The Addiction Connection
Session 3 of Project CONNECT® will help participants develop a deeper awareness of their own nicotine use attitudes and behaviors. The session will delve into the concept of addiction and where participants fit along this continuum.

SESSION 4: Connection with Change
Session 4 of Project CONNECT® focuses on making a change. It will help participants identify the changes they have already made while in the program and introduce them to a variety of quitting methods. This session will help participants to identify those triggers that may hinder their progress, including boredom.

SESSION 5: Connect with Healthy Choices
Session 5 of Project CONNECT® focuses on making healthy choices. The connection between stress and nicotine use will be explored, and participants will examine the concept of stress management. It will also expose participants to the recovery symptoms that they may experience when they make changes to their use of nicotine, and help them to recognize those assets that make them more stress resistant, including healthy eating and physical activity.

SESSION 6: The Preparation Connection
Session 6 of Project CONNECT® emphasizes the importance of planning and preparation in making a change. It examines the role that effective communication plays in the decision to change one’s nicotine habits. The session assists participants in identifying difficult situations and effective problem-solving techniques. Finally, Session 6 explores the importance of identifying and utilizing a support network throughout the quitting process.

SESSION 7: The Reflection Connection
Session 7 will review participants’ experiences throughout the program and how their attitudes, beliefs and goals regarding their nicotine use may have changed since the beginning of the group. This session will introduce the concept of resilience and help participants plan ahead and ultimately overcome any challenges or roadblocks that may be in their future.

SESSION 8: Keeping the Connection
Session 8 is the final session of the Project CONNECT® program core curriculum. In this session, participants will review the topics discussed throughout the program and look back at where they were when they began the program, where they are now and where they would like to be in the future. Session 8 is intended to identify changes that participants have made throughout the course of the program, to celebrate individual and group successes and to prepare for the challenges that may lie ahead.

Frequently Asked Questions

Project CONNECT® is a wonderful opportunity to enhance current health and safety efforts for students at your school. The following are some frequently asked questions that can help you understand how Project CONNECT® could be implemented in your school.

Essential information: 

Who can participate? Project CONNECT® is for any student who uses nicotine products and would like to learn some skills and strategies to help her or him change. It can also be used as a mandatory program for students who have violated nicotine policy.

Number of participants: Minimum of 5, maximum of 12; ideal size, 8

Number of sessions: Eight sessions recommended

Time required: Recommended 45-minute to 1-hour sessions

Resources required: Audiovisual equipment needed for one session only. Facilitator will request in advance.

Program location: Room that will comfortably accommodate participants

When is the group offered? Depending on your needs, group sessions could be held during lunches, after school, or on a rotating basis during school/site hours so students do not miss the same class more than once.

How are the students recruited? Recruitment methods may include setting up an information table in a common area or speaking about the program in a classroom or group setting. Staff and administrative referrals is also an ideal way to get students involved in the program.

Who will run the sessions? A Project CONNECT® facilitator trained to implement the program curriculum will lead the sessions.

Who will provide materials? The program facilitator will supply all program materials.

Follow-up: Booster sessions are recommended 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 1 year after completion of the program.

What topics does the group cover? Topics addressed in this program include the cycle of addiction, the effects of nicotine, quitting methods, recovery symptoms, identification of nicotine use triggers, stress management techniques, refusal skills, decision-making and problem-solving skills and healthy lifestyle choices.

Results

We understand the importance of sharing best practices with key stakeholders that will contribute to the planning, design, and implementation of more sustainable services and an understanding of how to improve future programs.  We consistently monitor and evaluate Project CONNECT® which includes assessing participant behavior change, knowledge gained and overall satisfaction.

We have included the evaluation results from the 2016-2017 school year.

Get the Facts
  • 16.0 percent of all high school students are current cigarette or cigar smokers (combustible tobacco users), including 19.0 percent of high school boys and 12.7 percent of high school girls.

    Source: CDC, 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

  • 31.4 percent of high school students report current use of tobacco (cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, cigars or e- cigarettes), including 34.9 percent of high school boys and 27.7 percent of high school girls.

    Source: CDC, 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

  • The addiction rate for smoking is higher than the addiction rates for marijuana, alcohol, or cocaine; and symptoms of serious nicotine addiction often occur only weeks or even just days after youth “experimentation” with smoking first begins. Because adolescence is a critical period of growth and development, exposure to nicotine may have lasting, adverse consequences on brain development.

    Source: 2 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Symptoms of Substance Dependence Associated with Use of Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Illicit Drugs—United States 1991-1992,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 44(44):830-831,837-839, November 10, 1995, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00039501.htm. DiFranza, JR, et al., “Initial Symptoms of Nicotine Dependence in Adolescents,” Tobacco Control 9:313-19, September 2000. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (TFK) factsheet, The Path to Smoking Addiction Starts at Very Young Ages, http://tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0127.pdf.
    Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2014, http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/. See also, HHS, Prevention Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, A Report of the Surgeon General, 2012, http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/preventing-youth-tobacco-use/index.html.

  • Smoking can seriously harm kids while they are still young. Aside from the immediate bad breath, irritated eyes and throat and increased heartbeat and blood pressure, short-term harms from youth smoking include respiratory problems, reduced immune function, increased illness, tooth decay, gum disease and pre-cancerous gene mutations.

    Source: HHH, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People: A Report of the Surgeon General, 1994, http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/NN/B/C/F/T/_/nnbcft.pdf. See also, HHS, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, A Report of the Surgeon General, 2012, http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/preventing-youth-tobacco-use/index.html. TFK factsheet, Smoking’s Immediate Effects on the Body, http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0264.pdf.

  • About 5.6 million children under age 18 alive today will eventually die from smoking-related disease unless current rates are reversed. That’s about 1 of every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger alive today.

    Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress, A Report of the Surgeon General, 2014. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/.

Sample Program Activities and Workbook Page

The Project CONNECT® program curriculum is intended to be implemented once per week over the course of eight weeks. Eight individual lesson plans have been developed that will provide objectives, activities and discussion questions. We have included a sample of part of a lesson plan for review.

Project CONNECT® also includes a participant guide or Personal Plan for Success. Because the program is intended to be sensitive to each participant’s readiness to change, the Personal Plan for Success is distributed, and participants are encouraged to develop their own personalized plan that defines their specific goals, challenges and achievements throughout the course of the program.  A  sample page from the Personal Plan for Success is included.


Testimonials

Feedback from Staff Regarding Project CONNECT®

“It has been our pleasure to offer the Project CONNECT® program to our student population. The facilitator was able to successfully impart relevant information through a variety of teaching techniques that the students will be able to use throughout life in their efforts to become nonsmokers. The facilitator worked well with staff and students alike and had an ability to CONNECT with the students at a level that enhanced the learning experience for all involved.”

—School Nurse/Public High School


“The Project CONNECT® program was a helpful educational experience for our students who smoke.  Many of them made a tremendous effort to stop smoking as they learned about the harmful effects and learned strategies to fight cravings for nicotine. Additionally, the group itself provided a system of support for students who are not always able to establish and maintain healthy relationships. It is beneficial for the students and school community.”

—Guidance Director/Public High School


“Our school loves the cessation program that you have offered and facilitated this school year. The students ask me all year to get into your groups. For at-risk adolescents, this is a true marker of effectiveness because, for the most part, our students avoid groups and anything that looks or resembles counseling. Your groups are so popular and in demand because you have a true feel for and knack for reaching our kids. The Project CONNECT® curriculum is very good in that it holds their interest and captures the essence of adolescent thinking and experiences.”

—School Adjustment Counselor/Alternative High School Program


“We have offered the students three sessions of the Project CONNECT program this year. All have been full with a waiting list. The program is very professionally presented, provides the students with a lot of relevant and useful information regarding nicotine cessation. The students are aware of the program and look forward to participating in it. The program is thought highly of and supported by our administration.”

—Guidance Counselor/Public High School


“The Project CONNECT® cessation program has been instrumental in our school. As a school, we have found that having outside resources in the best way to impact our students with help in quitting smoking. They feel much more free to speak openly in this format. The kids really feel they benefit by having activities to do with regards to quitting smoking.”

—School Nurse/Independent Middle/High School


“For many, many years our school has had a disciplinary warning in place with regard to the use and/ or possession of tobacco products, and for as many years, the students who have been caught or who have a desire to quit have complained to the school administrators that ‘you don’t offer us any ways to quit.’ When we were fortunate enough to have Project CONNECT offered to our school, the word got out and the feedback was so positive. The students who participated were loyal to the meetings and seldom ever missed an evening session. This regular attendance for these overscheduled boarding school students speak volumes to the program content as well as to the facilitator and her ability to connect with these kids.”

—Director of Health Services/Boarding School


Feedback from Project CONNECT® Participants

  • “I am so proud of myself for quitting. This class was most definitely very helpful.”
  • “I have cut down with the help of this program.”
  • “I finally quit and I am not going to start ever again.”
  • “The program was extremely helpful. The facilitator’s caring and commitment to the group helped us feel comfortable and more able to move towards quitting.”
  • “This is an excellent group for some kids who can’t turn to anyone else.”
  • “This class made me change my mind about cigarettes and pushed me to really quit and I never thought I’d try to quit.”
  • “Overall it was a great experience and it helped me lower my use of tobacco.”
  • “I thought this class was extremely helpful and I will use those techniques when I decide to quit.”
  • “Thank you for helping me. You were a great support system in many ways.”
  • “It was very helpful to me and I have cut down a lot. It was a good way to understand everything.”
  • “I think I can speak for the entire class in saying how much we appreciate your talking to us with respect. We never felt talked down to when you were sharing information.”
  • “Project CONNECT is amazing! It really helped me with my use. I’ve cut down.”
  • “Good program, highly recommend. Had a great time and really got information and I’m more motivated to quit. Thank you.”
  • “I think this program could change someone’s life.”
  • “I really enjoyed the support system in the group. I liked meeting and getting to know people that have the same issues as me.”
  • “You really did a good job of connecting with us.”
  • “Project CONNECT taught me a lot. I learned new strategies to quit, health problems, long-term effects. I liked everything about the program. I recommend it to anyone that needs help.”
Facilitator Training

The Project CONNECT® Facilitator Training provides prospective Project CONNECT® program facilitators with the skills and confidence they need to implement this adolescent nicotine cessation and reduction program. Over the course of a one to two-day workshop, participants learn:

  • Project CONNECT® curriculum basics
  • Skills for successfully conducting individual program sessions
  • Information on new nicotine use trends
  • Practical implementation issues and how to overcome them 

Project CONNECT® Facilitator Training workshops can be held on-site at schools or agencies. Participants may also attend training workshops at Caron Treatment Centers throughout the year.

Register here or contact us for more information.

Prevention Program

In addition to the Project CONNECT® adolescent nicotine cessation program, we also offer a 45 to 60-minute prevention presentation in which students learn about the health impact of using nicotine delivery devices such as cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and electronic products.  They also are given information about the addictive properties of nicotine by listening to facts, expressing knowledge of consequences, looking at visuals and participating in hands-on activities to reinforce relevant concepts.

Click here to download the Nicotine: The CLEAR Facts PDF.

To learn more, call 800-678-2332 ext. 6117 or use this contact form.
Project Connect Videos






Contact Us

Call 800-678-2332 ext. 6117 or contact us here to learn more about implementing Project CONNECT.

Project CONNECT® Regional Program Staff

Tammy Granger
Corporate Director
tgranger@caron.org

1-800-678-2332 ext. 6119

Traci Wojciechowski
Director of Project CONNECT® Advancement
twojciechowski@caron.org

610-462-7334

Christine Storm, MPH
Regional Director – Philadelphia, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia
cstorm@caron.org

610-568-4548

Kelley Lyons, MA
Lead Specialist – Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia Region
klyons@caron.org

301-305-2258

Cory A. Trevena, M.A.
Regional Director - Pennsylvania
ctrevena@caron.org

610-743-6491

Tina George, MSW
Coordinator - Pennsylvania
tgeorge@caron.org

610-743-6169

Jessica Kase
Coordinator - Pennsylvania
Jkase@Caron.org

610-743-6513

Mallory Henry
Lead Specialist – Pennsylvania Region
mhenry@caron.org

610-360-6945

Ursula Christie, M Ed
Regional Coordinator - Florida and Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee
uchristie@caron.org

678-525-1358 

Amie Begg
Lead Specialist – North Carolina Region
abegg@caron.org

704-207-4878

Anna Reed
Lead Specialist – Florida Region
Anna.Reed@caron.org

412-601-0934

Tara Boone, MRC, MPA, MBA, Ed.S
Lead Specialist – Georgia Region
tboone@caron.org
404-808-9050