Ways to give up smoking

ways to quit
There are various methods that you can use if you want to give up smoking. The following will give you an idea of what each method consists of and then you can choose the one that is most likely to suit you and your needs.

Whichever method you choose, remember that is always best to plan ahead and prepare yourself, seek professional medical advice if you need to and above all if you fail the first time, don't give up trying.

Most importantly, if you are not really ready in your mind to give up, postpone it until you are.

This article will explore both Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products and other alternative methods, such as hypnotherapy or nicotine fading.

Cold turkey

What is it?

"Cold turkey" means to give up smoking there and then, without the help of any medical aids and purely by using your own willpower and strength of mind.

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How does it work?

The "cold turkey" method involves setting a date to give up smoking and then not smoking from that day onwards. You will have to cope with the withdrawal symptoms and prepare yourself mentally in order to be able to resist the temptation to smoke again. Some people just decide one day to stop smoking, although they may have been thinking about it for a while.

What is the success rate?

This is probably the most popular and quickest method of giving up smoking, although it is not the most successful. On the other hand, giving up smoking "cold turkey" style is an amazing achievement and most people will feel extremely proud of themselves if they manage to stop smoking using this method. Unfortunately the success rate is only between 5 - 10%. This means that out of every 100 people who give up smoking, only 5 - 10 of them will still not be smoking a year later.

Is this method safe?

Going "cold turkey" is extremely safe, as no other chemicals or drugs are involved. This is the safest method of giving up smoking and it is also the cheapest.

Are there any side effects?

There are no side effects of giving up smoking solely by using your willpower, although at times your sanity might take a turn for the worse.

What are the advantages of using this method?

  • It is extremely inexpensive (you might have to stock up on chewing gum etc).
  • You are not putting any other chemicals or drugs into your body.
  • It is easy and doesn't involve a lot of planning.
  • You will not have to go to meetings, to the chemist, to the doctor etc.
  • You will begin to feel the benefits on your health immediately.
  • If you are successful it will boost your confidence and you will be able to manage anything.

Are there any disadvantages?

  • The first few weeks will be incredibly tough.
  • The withdrawal symptoms will be more severe using this method.
  • The chances of success are quite low.
  • This is the most challenging method.
  • You must be completely motivated and determined to stop if you want to succeed.

Nicotine tapering

What is it?

Nicotine tapering is also known as nicotine fading. The smoker reduces the nicotine intake gradually over a period of weeks and then gives up completely on a set day. The idea is that the less nicotine there is in the body, the less addicted the smoker is to it and the easier it will be to eventually quit.

How does it work?

The smoker progressively switches to a brand of cigarettes that is lower in nicotine than his usual brand. The number of cigarettes smoked remains the same initially and then is also reduced each week.

A typical programme would be to smoke a brand of cigarettes with 30% less nicotine the first week, 60% less nicotine the second week and 90% less nicotine for the third week. The smoker then gives up "cold turkey" at some point during the fourth week.

Another method of nicotine tapering is to stick to the same brand of cigarettes but to reduce the number of cigarettes smoked a day.

What is the success rate?

This method is fairly effective, with success rates of around 35% after a year.

Is this method safe?

Nicotine tapering is a safe method, although some studies have shown that smokers have higher levels of carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, in their body during this process, as they tend to inhale on the cigarette much more deeply and smoke more of the cigarette than they usually would.

Are there any side effects?

The only side effects are the higher levels of carbon monoxide. However if the smoker is eventually successful, the carbon monoxide will gradually disappear from the body.

What are the advantages of using this method?

  • It is easy to follow.
  • It is inexpensive.
  • It reduces the severity of the withdrawal symptoms.
  • It can build your confidence.
  • It may be easier for some people who cannot manage to quit "cold turkey".

Are there any disadvantages?

  • Smokers tend to inhale twice as hard and take more puffs.
  • If you reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke, it is easy to lose count of how many you smoke and it could lead to an increase in the end.
  • It is easy to relapse.
  • A different brand of cigarettes may have an unpleasant taste.
  • Carbon monoxide levels in the body may increase.
  • It may be too difficult to give up those last few cigarettes, as the smoker will look forward to them all day and see them as a reward.

Hypnotherapy

What is it?

The smoker is hypnotised and programmed into believing that he no longer needs to or wants to smoke.

How does it work?

The hypnotist uses techniques to help the smoker to really relax not only the body but also the mind. In such a deep state of relax, the smoker no longer thinks with his conscious mind, which puts up all kinds of barriers, but he enters his subconscious mind, which is open and empty like a blank sheet of paper. The hypnotist then reprogrammes the subconscious mind through suggestions and affirmations, into breaking the desire and pleasure of smoking and redirecting it into more positive and healthy actions.

What is the success rate?

Although there is no scientific evidence to prove that hypnotherapy actually works, more and more people are turning to this method in order to give up smoking.

A study that was carried out by the University of Iowa and subsequently published in the "New Scientist" showed that hypnosis was the most effective method of giving up.

Figures showed that hypnotherapy was 300% more successful than nicotine replacement therapies and 500% more successful than methods that are purely based on willpower alone.

Other studies have shown that hypnotherapy has a 66% success rate.

Is this method safe?

Hypnosis is a safe method, even for people with poor health that does not involve drugs or chemicals. There is no danger of not being able to come out of the hypnotic state.

Are there any side effects?

No side effects have been reported and most people who undergo hypnosis find it to be an extremely pleasant and relaxing experience.

What are the advantages of using this method?

  • The hypnosis usually takes place in one session.
  • There are no side effects and hypnosis can help reduce the withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  • It has proven to be highly successful.
  • There are no drugs involved.
  • It is a pleasant and relaxing experience.
  • It gets to the root of the cause of smoking, which is in the subconscious mind.

Are there any disadvantages?

  • It can be quite expensive.
  • It has not yet been scientifically proven to work.
  • You may have to hunt around for a good, professional hypnotherapist that you feel comfortable with.
  • The thought of being hypnotised can be a bit scary and daunting.
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Acupuncture

What is it?

Acupuncture is an alternative therapy that originates from China and has been used in Chinese medicine for about 2000 -3000 years. The general idea is that acupuncture restores and balances a person's natural energy and healing system within the body. This energy can become unbalanced through negative emotions, bad eating habits, infections and a build up of toxins and poisons in the body. Once equilibrium between the mind, body and soul has become re-established, the smoker is more likely to quit his habit and cope better with the withdrawal symptoms.

How does it work?

Very fine needles are inserted into the skin at various points that are thought to affect the smoking related areas of the body and remain there for around half an hour. The needles are then removed and two tiny needles are inserted into the earlobes and left there. When the smoker has an urge to smoke, he touches the earlobe and the craving is supposed to subside, as the needle stimulates a part of the body that helps to reduce these cravings. The whole treatment lasts for about two weeks, with several visits during the first week when the withdrawal symptoms are at their greatest.

What is the success rate?

Some people who have used this method have found that it suits them and they have become successful in giving up smoking. One study showed that 7 out of 10 people were able to give up by using this method, whilst another showed that the success rate only reached around 15%.

Is this method safe?

This method is safe, although you must make sure that you are treated by a trained and experienced acupuncturist. The needles must be sterilised and preferably new.

Are there any side effects?

The only side effect that you may experience is a slight pain when the needles are inserted or around the area where they have been inserted.

If the needles are not clean, this could cause an infection.

What are the advantages of using this method?

  • If carried out by a professional, this is a safe method.
  • This is a drug-free treatment.
  • Ideal for those who prefer holistic treatments.
  • Weight gain may be minimal as the same acupuncture points are used that control craving for food.

Are there any disadvantages?

  • The insertion of the needles may cause some discomfort.
  • If the needles are not clean you could become infected.
  • This is not a good idea for people who do not like needles.
  • This treatment may be expensive.
  • It is not clear how successful this method is.
  • The needles could be pushed in too far.

Nicotine replacement therapy

If you have tried and tried to give up smoking but your willpower just isn't strong enough, then maybe you should look to trying to quit again, but this time with the aid of a nicotine replacement therapy product.

These products are available in several different forms and can be obtained on prescription from your local doctor or over the counter at the chemist.

One of the main reasons that most smokers fail to give up smoking, even after many attempts, is due to the fact that they cannot cope with the severe withdrawal symptoms and the cravings to smoke. Nicotine not only takes control of the brain but it also controls the smoker's body.

Nicotine replacement therapies deliver nicotine to the body in small and safe doses, giving just the right amount in order to help reduce the cravings and withdrawal symptoms whilst the smoker is trying to give up.

The levels of nicotine are much lower and less concentrated than the amount found in cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy products do not contain any of the harmful chemicals and toxins that cigarettes contain, and therefore do not cause cancer or any other smoking-related diseases.

As the physical withdrawal symptoms are being dealt with, with the aid of the nicotine replacement therapy product, this will enable the smoker to concentrate on breaking his behavioural addiction to nicotine. For the best chance of success in giving up smoking, you must look at not only overcoming the physical withdrawal symptoms but also the situations that trigger the desire to smoke.

Even though smokers are physically addicted to nicotine and when they stop smoking they suffer physical withdrawal symptoms, they usually get cravings to smoke when they find themselves in certain situations that they have always associated with smoking. These situations are habitual and the brain automatically alerts the smoker that it is time to smoke a cigarette at these times.

For the majority of smokers these situations are very similar and may include: after a meal, on the way to work, after work, during a break, when driving, after sex, whilst drinking coffee and reading the paper or whilst out socialising in a smoky atmosphere. If smokers associate with other smokers, they also tend to smoke when the other person smokes as well.

Whilst the smoker is trying to give up smoking, he should concentrate on avoiding the situations and people where he is most likely to smoke and try to fill the smoking time with another activity. Dealing with the behavioural side of smoking is just as vital as dealing with the physical withdrawal symptoms.

Dealing with the situations that trigger a need to smoke is made easier with the aid of an NRT, as the smoker does not also have to battle with the physical withdrawal symptoms from not smoking a cigarette.

The smoker should not smoke cigarettes at the same time as using a nicotine replacement therapy product, as this could be extremely dangerous and lead to too much nicotine in the body and possibly a nicotine overdose. Only one product should be used at a time, for the same reasons.

Studies have shown that smokers who use a nicotine replacement therapy as an aid to stop smoking double their chance of stopping for good. This means that out of every ten people who try this method, five of them will be smoke-free a year later.

When using one of these products, it is advisable to consult your doctor beforehand, as there are safety issues concerning some of the nicotine replacement therapies and pregnant women or people with specific health conditions should not be recommended to use them.

These aids are also more effective when coupled with counselling, professional support and support at home and research has shown this to be true after carrying out various studies and investigations into the success rate of NRT's.

As these products administer nicotine to the body, the withdrawal symptoms are very slight, if at all, and this may help the smoker as he gets accustomed to not smoking and becoming a non-smoker.

A course of nicotine replacement therapy should be taken for around three months and should never exceed six months. People should start on a product with a higher dose and then gradually wean themselves onto products with lower doses until they are ready to come off them completely. For the best results, it is important to follow the course for the whole recommended time of 12 weeks.

Nicotine replacement therapy products are now widely available in different forms such as: Some of the products come in a choice of flavours, making them more pleasant to take.

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Health activists are now calling on their Governments to make these products available free of charge on prescription from their doctor, in order to help people stop smoking and refrain from damaging their health any longer.

Nicotine replacement therapy products were first available on prescription in the form of nicotine gum in 1984 and over the counter in 1986. Gradually over the years, other products have been developed to suit the needs of different people. The nicotine patch was introduced in 1991, the nasal spray in 1996 and the inhaler in 1998.

All products are more or less the same in terms of effectiveness and it is usually just a matter of choice and preference as to which product you decide to use.


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