Residential Quit Smoking Program:
Nicotine Addiction Program at St. Helena Center for Health

The Nicotine Addiction Program at St. Helena's Center for Health has been in existence since 1969, making it the most established residential quit smoking program in the U.S.  It is located in St. Helena, California, embedded in the middle of the beautiful wine-making region of Napa Valley, about 65 miles north of San Francisco.  Their web site is here:  www.smokefreelife.com.

Approach

The St. Helena's staff describe their approach as 'holistic,' combining medical assessment and treatment with clinical counseling, exercise, relaxation, and nutrition management.  The program is headed by John E. Hodgkin, M.D., and other staff for the program include a clinical counselor, an exercise physiologist, and a nutritionist, among others.

The program is affiliated with the Adventist Hospital, so you get the advantages of a medical setting, but the accommodations are more hotel-like, including daily maid service. 

Cost

The exact cost ranges from about $4150 to $4650, depending on the room type you choose: private or shared, premium or deluxe.  This fee includes the accommodations, meals, medical assessment and lung function screening, exercise sessions, lectures, etc.  Prescription medications, NRT and other optional services such as extra visits with the physician, massages, etc., are not included in this cost. 

While none of the residential programs I talked to provide a money-back guarantee, this one does offer an 'alumni discount.'  If you are one of the 35% who does NOT manage to remain smoke-free, they allow alumni to repeat the program at a reduced cost.

Effectiveness

About 65% of the graduates from this program report being smoke free after a year. 

Follow-up

Program follow-up sounds relatively informal, and includes periodic phone calls initiated by staff to program graduates.  Graduates are also encouraged to call program staff as needed for follow-up help in the future. 

Besides phone calls, during the program participants develop an individualized 'tool kit' for dealing with the world after they leave.

A Typical Day at St. Helena's Residential Quit Smoking Program

[excerpted from St Helena's program information]

Sample Daily Schedule

(Varies slightly from day to day)

  • Morning walk

  • Healthy breakfast

  • Spiritual dimension (optional)

  • An enlightening lecture     

  • Group discussion

  • Workout

  • Stress management

  • Nutritious lunch    

  • Optional individual appointments      

  • Pool class and water volleyball

  • Informative lecture    

  • Supper

  • Lecture or recreational activity    

The week also includes:

  • A group picnic

  • Lunch and shopping in the Valley

  • An optional low-fat cooking class

 

My Recommendations

St. Helena's program is the most established residential quit smoking program in the country, and also claims the highest success rate: about 65% after 12 months.  The staff that I spoke to were friendly and professional, and the program is located in the beautiful Napa Valley.  If you have to travel to get to a program anyway, consider combining this program with some vacation time, and celebrate the rest of your smoke-free life by enjoying your first smoke-free vacation. 

If you feel that a residential program may be overkill for you at this time (or you simply don't have the time and money to invest right now), consider one of the less expensive options such as  quit smoking classes or  home study programs.