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More than 16 million Americans are living with diseases caused by smoking, including lung cancer. Each year, 480,000 people in the U.S. die due to cigarette smoking—that’s 1 out of every 5 deaths.* Smoking is not only deadly, but as anyone with an addiction counseling degree will tell you, it is a very difficult habit to break.
To give you a perspective on the effects of smoking, here are three of the many stories shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an effort to encourage smokers to quit and to deter anyone thinking about lighting up.†
Marlene started smoking in high school. When she was 56, she began to lose her vision due to an advanced eye disease called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness. Her doctors told her to stop smoking if she wanted to keep even a small portion of her eyesight. Today, Marlene has to endure regular injections into her eyeball in an effort to save what little sight she has left.†
Brian was 42 and living with AIDS when his smoking contributed to clogged blood vessels. As a result, he had a blood clot in his lungs, a stroke, and required surgery on an artery in his neck. For months following the stroke he had trouble speaking and reading. He couldn’t work or dress himself. “Smoking is something that you do have control over,” said Brian. “You can stop. And it's worth your life to stop smoking."‡
Marie smoked for 40 years and was eventually diagnosed with Buerger’s disease, a disorder linked to tobacco use that causes blood vessels in the hands and feet to become blocked. Buerger’s disease results in gangrene and infection. Over time, parts of her body, such as her feet, fingertips, and lower legs, required amputation.
A number of people choose to focus their careers on this public health issue—caring for patients, looking for cures to the diseases tobacco use can cause, helping smokers kick the habit, and finding other ways to shrink the alarming statistics associated with cigarette smoking. While there are many ways to help, earning a master's in clinical research administration or an MS in Addiction Counseling can prepare you for two important career paths associated with the fight against tobacco use.
With an MS in Clinical Research Administration, you could be a part of a clinical research team working to fight the effects of smoking and secondhand smoke. This type of degree can prepare you to explore the pathophysiological mechanisms of disease, interact with patients, assess responses to trials, and much more. If you aspire to become an addiction counselor, consider earning a degree such as an MS in Addiction Counseling, which can prepare you to you to work one-on-one with people like Marlene, Brian, and Marie who are desperately trying to stop smoking.‡
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and a great time to think about how you can aid the fight against smoking. If you’re interested in turning your fight into a career, you have a number of options for your education, including universities that offer online learning programs for students who need flexibility while earning their degrees. Should you decide to go with an online university, be sure to explore only accredited online colleges to ensure you have the credentials you need for success in your chosen field.
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Smoking and Tobacco Use: Diseases and Death Fact Sheet,” on the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm.
†Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Tips From Former Smokers,” on the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/stories/stories-by-name.html, (viewed online October 2, 2015)
‡Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of a degree program.