Which method works best?
Although there are hundreds of "guaranteed" methods, techniques, tricks, pills, patches, books, inhalers, gizmos, gadgets and gimmicks touted as surefire ways to quit smoking, the truth of the matter is there is only one single way to successfully quit: quit.
Sounds easy enough, eh? Those who have tried to quit smoking know it is anything but easy. More frequently than not, attempts by smokers to quit smoking result in miserable failure. Some smokers who wish to quit are willing to pay big money to those offering help. This desperation of smokers to improve the quality of their lives by breaking their habit has led to a boom in entrepreneurs jumping into the market with "quit smoking now" miracle solutions.
However, no matter how good the hypnotist is, or how successful the "patch" has proven to be in clinical trials on other smokers, the bottom line is if you want to quit smoking, you must want to quit smoking, and quit. When the urge to light up a cigarette and go through the motions of smoking arises, one must fight back against the cravings and resist the temptation to smoke "just one last cigarette." After all, how can one quit smoking by smoking another cigarette? Although the gradual reduction method may work for some people, they are still smoking while they are trying to quit, thus their bodies are not learning to live without nicotine, and the mild symptoms of withdrawal they experience causes them to suffer in vain. Smoking less is not the same as not smoking. Someone smoking only 3 cigarettes a day is still a smoker; still hooked on nicotine. Not until you can ward off all cigarettes and temptations to smoke can you honestly claim to be a non-smoker.
There is no medicine that offers a 100% success rate for the cessation of smoking. However, there are medications designed to help smokers curb their cravings for nicotine, and often they are successful. But beware! Along with the legitimate pharmaceutical companies that produce medicines that promote the cessation of smoking come plenty of enterprising companies offering pills they "guarantee" will break a smoking habit. Although these "medications" are not prescribed by physicians, like other forms of "medicine," they must be taken with caution.
The primary prescribed oral medication used for aiding the cessation of smoking is Zyban (aka Wellbutrin). This prescription medicine is classified as an anti-depressant, similar to Prozac, and was originally designed for curbing individuals with mild symptoms of depression. Zyban's success as a medication for the cessation of smoking, however, cannot be attributed to its classification as an anti-depressant. The truth is that researchers are still uncertain why this particular medication is sometimes successful in quieting nicotine cravings.
While a prescription to Zyban may help smokers control and, hopefully, eliminate their cravings for cigarettes, Zyban is only an aid to help users quit. As with any other method of quitting, the bulk of responsibility for quitting is determined by the will power of the smoker. Regardless of the technique one chooses to quit smoking, the smoker must be 100% dedicated to quitting. While having faith in a particular system for quitting is helpful, the smokers must be active in their role of controlling their addiction.
Nicotine Replacement Methods: Pills, Patches, Gums and Gas
A relatively new line of products aimed at individuals trying to quit smoking are nicotine replacement products. These devices are designed to gradually wean smokers away from cigarettes by replacing their intake of nicotine from cigarettes with prescribed doses of nicotine through patches, gums or inhalers. Some tobacco companies have gone as far as creating "smoke-free" cigarettes that provide users with the nicotine they need without the smoke. (Amazingly enough, the developers of this type of cigarette are criticized by their fellow tobacco executives for "sabotaging" the tobacco industry.)
The apparent success of these devices is deceptive. While such products seem to be curbing cravings for cigarettes, they are still keeping the level of nicotine in the smoker "up to snuff." Instead of lighting up, a smoker just needs to pop a piece of nicotine gum into their mouth--or snort some nicotine inhaler up their nose--to experience that certain feel of ease wash across their body. (The patch provides a constant flow of nicotine which helps reduce the sudden cravings addicts experience in the first place.) Therefore, once the smoker has become comfortable with the idea of living a life without a cigarette always in hand, they must still overcome the same nicotine addiction they were initially trying to break.
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- Center for Disease Control's online "Reasons for Tobacco Use and Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal Among Adolescent and Young Adult Tobacco Users."
- Philly.com, the Philadelphia Inquiry's online newspaper. Knox, Andrea. "A swirl of debate over new cigarette." Sunday, April 15, 2001.
- Quitnet's online "Pharmaceutical Guide."