Everything You Need to Know About Quitting Smoking
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Smoking is a tough habit to break but overcoming your nicotine addiction can vastly improve your quality of life. Smoking can make you more vulnerable to heart disease, emphysema, and a broad range of other chronic disorders – and according to the CDC, people who smoke reduce their life expectancy by at least a decade.
Unfortunately, smoking is difficult to quit. Though many smokers try to quit, 88 percent of smokers who quit for less than a month will eventually relapse. You can avoid becoming a failed former smoker yourself by finding the quitting method that works best for you, like one of the following recommended ideas.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Most people who smoke don’t do so because they enjoy damaging their health. In many cases, smokers are addicted to the nicotine cigarette manufacturers pack into tobacco products. Going cold turkey isn’t for everyone, so you should look for safe tobacco replacement options to wean yourself off nicotine. Instead of damaging your health by continuing to smoke, you can use nicotine replacement therapy to gradually reduce your dependency.
Doctors commonly recommend smokers consider nicotine transdermal patches when trying to quit. Patches contain nicotine that gets absorbed through your skin so you don’t experience withdrawals. Some people rely on nicotine patches to replace their need to smoke. You can also reduce the strength of your patch over several months or years to gradually draw down your nicotine dependency.
Smokers can also consider some of the other alternative options that are available for obtaining nicotine without relying on harmful tobacco products. Some of the best options for nicotine replacement therapy recommended by doctors include:
- Nicotine gum: There are dozens of manufacturers that produce nicotine gum products designed to help smokers quit.
- Inhalers: Some smokers have a better chance of staying away from tobacco by using safe nicotine inhalers. Unlike electronic cigarettes, inhalers obtained with a prescription from your doctor don’t contain harmful additives.
- Nasal spray: You need a prescription for nasal sprays, but these products can be effective alternatives to smoking.
Nicotine-Free Quit Aids
If you’re determined to eliminate your dependence on nicotine, you may want to cut out the addictive substance entirely. Breaking your dependence on nicotine altogether can be an effective approach if you stick with your treatment plan. Some of the most effective nicotine-free quit aids include:
- Bupropion: One of the most powerful medications used to eliminate nicotine addictions is bupropion. Doctors usually start patients on bupropion because it’s the most effective drug available for breaking nicotine dependency.
- Nortriptyline: Doctors may also prescribe nortriptyline to patients looking to stop smoking. Nortriptyline can be taken alongside bupropion, or it can be taken separately. Unlike bupropion, nortriptyline can have severe side effects.
- Clonidine: As with nortriptyline, clonidine is seen as a second-line medication that can be taken when other drugs haven’t been effective. Unfortunately, the side effects associated with clonidine can be severe.
Quit aids can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms, but they do nothing to eliminate the habits that facilitated your addictive behavior. Many smokers, for example, get into the habit of going to a gas station every day before work to pick up a pack of cigarettes. No drug is going to convince you to not buy your next pack of cigarettes unless you’ve made a decision to break your smoking habit. Kicking the habit of smoking, therefore, can require behavioral therapy.
Behavioral therapy can help you stay motivated as you get through the tough process of smoking cessation. Therapists often focus on helping patients connect what they value more than smoking with addictive activities. When you think about buying cigarettes, behavioral therapy can help you to remember that seeing your grandchildren, enjoying your retirement, or setting a good example for the people you love is more important than the temporary satisfaction associated with nicotine.
Get the Help You Need
When trying to quit smoking, getting through the withdrawal process on your own isn’t usually feasible. The concept of quitting can seem easy until you spend a few days without nicotine in your system. Almost everyone returns to smoking without the assistance of quit aids and the right support network.
To increase your chances of succeeding at your goal of quitting, you should conduct your own research to find solutions that are likely to be effective for you. As part of your research, you should talk to your doctor to discuss options you may not have formerly considered. Your doctor can also give you the prescriptions you need to buy many of the available quit aids. Finding the information you need will set you on a more certain path to recovery while eliminating the anguish associated with the withdrawal phase.
Like anything, it's always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.