What is the best way to quit smoking
Most people know the various health risks associated with smoking, but that doesn’t necessarily make them not pick up the habit. Because cigarettes are culturally associated with both rebellion and adulthood, many smokers become addicted while they are still teenagers, and carry the habit into their adult years.
Because smoking is a physical addiction as well as a psychological addiction, it is incredibly difficult to quit, and because it is difficult to quit, there are a great many products on the market to help people. From prescription medications to quit smoking gums, smoking cessation is a billion dollar industry because cigarettes are so omnipresent in society and because so many people, at any given time, are trying to quit.
If you are trying to quit smoking, congratulations. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of lung cancer, various respiratory diseases, stroke, and even heart disease, so the sooner you quit, the better. Read on to find some information, cessation strategies, helpful products, and treatment options.
PSYCHOLOGY AND TREATMENT
Being addicted to cigarettes and the nicotine in them isn’t strictly a psychological addiction, but the psychological aspect of the addiction is incredibly powerful. Because smokers’ lives from moment to moment relate directly to their addiction, smoking is normalized and ritualized throughout the day. Having a cigarette with your morning coffee becomes a ritual; smoking after meals becomes a ritual; smoking while drinking becomes a ritual; and so on and so forth. This is why smoking cessation is difficult — in many cases, people who are trying to quit smoking need to fundamentally reorganize their lives.
Quitting smoking “cold turkey” is incredibly difficult because smoking is a habit and a multifaceted addiction (physical and psychological). Treatment for an addiction to smoking is also multifaceted, and ranges from things any person can do on their own to actual doctor-prescribed medications.
For some people, over-the-counter products you can pick up in any drugstore help. These products include but are not limited to gums, sprays, inhalers, and patches, and this group of products are referred to as “nicotine replacement therapy.” Essentially, these products allow you to still consume nicotine, which smokers become physically addicted to, without consuming cigarettes, which have negative effects above and beyond being nicotine delivery systems. Studies show that nicotine replacement therapy, by way of the aforementioned “quit smoking” gums, sprays, inhalers, and patches, can double the chances of smoking cessation success.
Nicotine replacement therapy isn’t for everyone, because smoking isn’t only about the nicotine. Cigarettes contain a great many chemicals that people can get addicted to, and nicotine is just one of them.
Prescription drugs have, in recent years, been a go-to for many people trying to quit. A drug called varenicline, marketed as Chantix, is probably the most popular and well-known one. Theoretically, varenicline works by stimulating the same receptors in the brain that nicotine does and also removing nicotine’s ability to attach to those exact receptors in the brain. As long-term nicotine use fundamentally changes the way the brain works, varenicline is as good of an option that exists.
Another drug, bupropion, marketed as both Wellbutrin and Zyban, is used by many people trying to quit smoking. Interestingly enough, Wellbutrin is a drug most commonly associated with treating seasonal affective disorder and major depressive disorder. Zyban is more commonly associated with helping people quit smoking, and is probably the prescription drug most commonly associated with smoking cessation efforts after Chantix.
While they are not as popular as nicotine replacement therapies and prescribed medications, alternative therapies are employed by some people. Popular alternative therapies include but are not limited to hypnosis and acupuncture.
It might sound strange, but a lot of people credit hypnosis with their eventual smoking cessation. While some studies show that the power of suggestion can help people quit, it’s important to remember that because that nicotine fundamentally alters the brain, chemically, the power of suggestion is not likely to work as a treatment. This fundamental divide seems to suggest that the length of time a smoker is addicted can render a treatment ultimately capable of working or not.
Though there is no scientific basis for how acupuncture can help people quit smoking, the general idea that it can seems to be enough for some people to claim that it works. Acupuncture and laser therapies are both alternative therapies that many credit with their success in quitting, though again, there is no scientific basis in either. However, because a lot of smokers suffer more from a psychological addiction than anything else, these methods can be effective.
When you try to quit smoking cravings become something you have to deal with, and ultimately withstand. You can’t avoid cravings; they are going to happen because smoking is a physical and psychological addiction. For many smokers, having a quick cigarette before, after, or during certain activities becomes as regular as sleeping at night and waking up in the morning. However, if you come up with a strong and smart treatment plan, and work hard to be disciplined, know that quitting smoking is an attainable goal, and one all smokers should have.