On the surface, quitting smoking seems easy. All you need to do is throw the cigarettes away and never smoke again. Like most things in life, though, it’s not that simple. A person who smokes every day develops a habit of smoking, psychologically and physiologically. Nicotine is an addictive substance. The body develops a dependence on it after awhile and the person is unable to quit smoking without suffering withdrawal symptoms.
In addition to that, smoking becomes deeply ingrained in the person’s daily routine. People who smoke experience a high after having a cigarette. This high may help the person deal with the negative feelings encountered during his or her day such as stress, loneliness, anger, fear, and anxiety. Although nicotine is a stimulant, the act of smoking can have the converse effect of producing calm in the smoker. It gets to the point when the person feels as though he or she must smoke to get through the day, even though there may not be a physical need for the nicotine.
These two factors alone make it very difficult for most smokers to quit. Add social pressure to the mix and you can see why a person continues to smoke even though it causes about 90% of lung cancer cases and other assorted health ills like COPD ( Read What is COPD from Kim Cateon, a Registered Respiratory Therapist). Just because it is challenging to quit smoking, however, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. If you are ready to make a change for the better, here are some ways to quit smoking cigarettes.
Preparing to Quit Smoking
For many people, smoking is a coping mechanism. When unpleasant feelings or situations arise, they cope with them by smoking. To permanently quit smoking, you must develop other, healthier ways to deal with the challenges of life instead of smoking. Those coping mechanisms may include engaging in cognitive-behavioral therapy, exercising, practicing breathing techniques, meditation, or taking up a hobby. It is worth keeping a journal that tracks when, where and why you smoke and come up with alternative methods to handling situations that lead to smoking.
Stop Smoking Hypnosis
Hypnosis is a form of cognitive manipulation. A person is put into a trance-like state and given instructions to stop smoking. The idea behind this type of therapy is to plant a command in your subconscious that will guide your conscious actions. In addition to reducing the impulse to smoke, you may feel inspired to walk or meditate instead. Hypnosis doesn’t work on everyone. You must have a certain amount of susceptibility and it may require several sessions with the hypnotist for the idea to fully take.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Nicotine replacement therapy uses various vehicles other than smoking to administer low doses of nicotine to the blood stream. Since nicotine is the addictive substance, the idea is to help a person quit smoking by providing the nicotine directly and eliminating the physical need to smoke. This therapy is commonly used to mitigate withdrawal symptoms by people who quit cold turkey. The products come in a variety of forms including gums, patches, and inhalers. While they can support a goal to stop smoking, it is important to remember that eventually you will need to wean yourself off the nicotine replacement therapy products.
The most common method of quitting smoking is to immediately stop. This means you toss your cigarettes into the garbage and never light up again. This is the quickest way to stop smoking, but it can be difficult to get through the withdrawal phases, which can last two to three weeks. Going this route requires a certain amount of willpower and discipline and many people are able to do it because their resolve to quit is stronger than the urge to smoke. Other people need a little more help.
Step Down Method
With this method, you would track how many cigarettes you smoke per day and then steadily cut back on that amount until you have completely quit. It takes longer to stop smoking using this method, but the withdrawal symptoms aren’t as intense. Additionally, doing a gradual step down provides time to develop habits that replace smoking. For example, once a day you could go for a walk instead of smoking. To be sure, this method also requires discipline and commitment to stick to cutting back on your cigarette consumption.
Currently there are two prescription medications used specifically to help people stop smoking: Chantix (verenicline) and Zyban (buproprion). While Chantix was developed expressly for smoking cessation treatment, the stop smoking benefits of Zyban were discovered accidentally. Buproprion is an antidepressant prescribed to treat various forms of depression but was found to also help patients quit smoking.
In clinical trials, both drugs have been shown to be effective at helping up to 44% of smokers drop the habit within 9 to 12 weeks. People who used Zyban were 1.5 times more likely to maintain their nonsmoking lifestyles after one year. Like most prescription drugs, however, there are serious side effects associated with these drugs. Some people who have used them experienced depression, suicidal thoughts, and exhibited suicidal behavior. It is important to discuss the potential dangers of using these drugs for smoking cessation with your doctor.
Many consumers are finding success using electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes are becoming very popular due to their ability to allow a user to start smoking with a predetermined nicotine level and subsequently moving down to a lesser level. The end goal is to eventually smoke electronic cigarettes without nicotine in the cartridges. Most people are accustomed to the act of smoking, and for this reason the motions are embedded in their brains and part of a daily routine. While not substantiated by health claims at time of publication, it’s not secret that electronic cigarettes are becoming a popular alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes. To learn more about these devices, we suggest you read the largest electronic cigarette review resource.
Acupuncture is a therapy found in Traditional Chinese Medicine that is used to treat a variety of physical and psychological problems. It is based on the idea that the body is filled with a life force called qi and that imbalances in qi are the cause of mental and physical disease. An acupuncture practitioner works to correct these imbalances by inserting thin needles into the skin on various parts of the body based on the patient’s diagnosis.
It is difficult to study the effectiveness of acupuncture because it relies heavily on a patient’s self-reported symptoms and progress. However, people that undergo acupuncture to quit smoking reported a reduction in nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Exactly how acupuncture works to produce this result is unknown, but since the procedure is safe experts consider it a reasonable treatment option for smoking cessation.
Some people feel that consumption of certain foods and herbs can help you quit smoking by reducing cravings or alleviating withdrawal symptoms. Drinking chamomile tea when the urge to smoke comes on has been touted as a way to combat cravings. Chamomile also has a calming effect and can alleviate some of the anxiety associated with nicotine withdrawal. Fish oil is another substance that may reduce cravings and stabilize mood swings. It can be purchased in pill or liquid form at most health food stores. Chewing on licorice root alters the taste buds which may make the taste of cigarette so unpleasant that you don’t smoke.
Oral fixation contributes to smoking, which is why a lot of people gain weight after smoking. They need to fulfill the urge to have something in their mouths and substitute smoking with food. Keeping the mouth occupied with hard candy, chewing sticks, or chewing gum can alleviate the oral need to smoke.
As you can see, there are numerous things you can do to quit smoking. Believe that you can overcome your nicotine addiction, commit to the process, and you will achieve the goal of quitting smoking.