Volume 92, Issue 56

Thursday, January, 1999

in the books


Shaping up the new year

Old habits die hard, no matter what the season

We resolve to...

...keep our resolutions

Old habits die hard, no matter what the season

By Jael Lodge
Gazette Staff

People have traditionally used the new year as a time to make changes in their lives, often to rid themselves of a bad habit or even a more serious addiction. This is the time of year when people do make changes, but there is debate as to whether the changes are made simply because it is the new year or if it is the season and pressures associated with it which precipitate change.

Bill Crewson, a first-year arts student at Western, knows what bad habit he wants to kick in the new year. "To quit smoking," he says.

Crewson is not alone. Jeff Robb, a pharmacist at Turner Drug Store in London, says January generally sees an increase in sales of stop-smoking aids. "Last year there was a 30 to 40 per cent increase in sales of Nicorette, the only over the counter product available in Ontario," Robb says.

A difference this year is that so far, sales have not increased as they have in previous years.

"A lot of new choices involve prescriptions," Robb explains. "I think a lot of people are still scrambling to see their doctors. The patch was supposed to be available [over the counter], but it's still in limbo. I think a lot of people are picking it up in the [United] States or in Quebec or British Columbia.

"The resolution thing was bigger in the past, but it still is a factor," he adds.

Robb also suggests that people who have decided to take the plunge and quit smoking may still be in the stage of checking options and getting information. Not all forms of addictions battled at this time of year, however, are necessarily related to new year's resolutions.

Chris Milliken, an addictions counsellor who also does clinical intake at Alcohol and Drug Services of Thames Valley, has seen a difference in the number of calls the service receives.

"There generally tends to be an increase in the number of calls we receive this time of year, especially in the past couple of days," she says. Some callers are simply looking for information, others are in fact seeking counselling services.

Milliken points out the season itself, not just the fact that people make resolutions at this time of year, as one of the reasons people seek help for their problems. Family pressures are traditionally high over the holiday season and events during this time may have simply led them to call. "We don't specifically ask why they've called," Milliken says.

Although 1998/99 statistics aren't yet in, Mike Wilson, an addictions counsellor at Turning Point, a London residential treatment centre, says in the past there has been only a slight increase in numbers for this time of year.

"There might be a blip on the graph, but it's not necessarily a new year's resolution," he says, suggesting homeless people seeking shelter from the cold may partly account for the January increase. "There are a lot more important reasons to change your life than a new year's resolution."

Even students at Western don't necessarily feel the need to make a change simply because it's a new year.

"I didn't make any [resolutions]," says Jesse Husk, a first-year psychology student. "I think if I have a resolution it's better to make it at the time I make the decision, not keep it for a time of year to make a bunch of resolutions."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999