Smoking is one of the most preventable causes of cancer and death globally. Millions of people lose their lives annually from smoking-related causes. The habit claims lives due to respiratory problems, cancer, and cardiovascular complications. Quitting smoking is a common new year’s resolution for many but it is also one of the easiest to break. It only takes a stressful domestic or work-related situation to break the resolve.
Smokers can enjoy massive health benefits once they kick the habit. These include better circulation, increased lung capacity, and elevated energy levels. In addition, smoking cessation provides a sure-fire way to save a significant amount of money.
Many people find it difficult to stop due to the psychological habit and the physical addiction. The temporary high of nicotine in the bloodstream triggers an unhealthy ritual that entails an automatic response when stressed or taking a break from routine activities. Combining a cigarette with alcoholic beverages increases the risk of developing mouth cancer by 38 times.
According to reports, more than seventy percent of smokers are keen to stop the habit. Many of them have previously attempted to quit. People employ a wide variety of methods with the aim to quit smoking, including the cold turkey approach, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), antidepressants, behavioral counseling, e-cigarettes and more.
The majority of smokers who attempting quitting do not seek any assistance. However, only a fraction of those that try to stop unassisted is successful. Behavioral counseling and medications have been proven to boost success rates. The addictive nature of nicotine contributes to the development of withdrawal symptoms. These include weight gain, cravings, depression, irritability, and anxiety.
Professional cessation strategies generally focus on addressing both nicotine withdrawal symptoms and addiction. On the other hand, opting for the cold turkey or unassisted approach exposes smokers to the shock of withdrawal. In turn, this makes it difficult to remain resolute and avoid the temptation to reach for a cigarette.
Experts recommend formulating a strategic plan that addresses short-term challenges of smoking cessation. This is vital when it comes to avoiding a relapse. Short-term solutions that are used by some smokers include inhalers and nicotine gum.
Cold turkey is a colloquial term that refers to abrupt withdrawal from an addictive substance.
Choosing a quit date
Experts recommend selecting a definitive day to kickstart the cessation process. All lighters, cigarettes and smoking-related papers should be discarded to avoid a relapse. The ideal day to quit smoking does not involve any social engagements in places where temptation is high. Some of these places include bars and nightclubs where smoking is allowed and commonplace.
Telling friends and families help reinforce the commitment to stop. Doing so ensures that any relapse will be magnified and reprimanded, thus generating some degree of shame. Another option is to find a quit buddy. The approach can boost success rates because smokers receive moral support and competitive pressure to avoid breaking the resolution.
According to reports, nicotine cravings that lead to relapses only last five minutes. For this reason, it is recommended to implement effective five-minute strategies that provide the much-needed distraction from cravings. Some people replace the cigarettes with snacks or inhalers.
The American Cancer Society stated that up to 25 percent of smokers that resort to medications can avoid a relapse for more than six months.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) allows smokers to administer nicotine in a manner that is less risky than smoking. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a number of medications for this purpose. This option is a short-term strategy that involves tapering down to a low dose before stopping.
NRT medications capable of boosting success rates by between 50 and 70 percent include inhalers, sprays, transdermal nicotine patches, lozenges, and gum. Combining the transdermal nicotine patch and a faster-acting medication further increases smoking cessation success rates.
When it comes antidepressants, bupropion is widely viewed as a first-line medication that enables smokers to quit. However, this option comes with a number of risks, including unusual mood swings and may contribute to an elevated risk of seizures for those suffering from this form of the disorder. Nortriptyline is another popular medication that is linked to significant rates of abstinence.
Many other antidepressants have not been shown to provide an effective smoking cessation solution. These include St. John’s wort and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).