Want to quit smoking in 2013? Read on to find out what methods may help you curb the cigarette habit this year and beyond.
There are only three proven ways to stop smoking: nicotine prescription medications (mainly patches, but also lozenges, pills and chewing gum); non-nicotine prescription medications varenicline (Chantix) and buproprion (Zyban); and quitting cold turkey within a support network. All three of these treatments work better, experts agree, when pursued along with therapy. It should be noted, however, that none of these therapies are guaranteed to work for everyone, and data on success rates varies from six to 25 percent. Here's what the experts have to say about treatments to quit smoking:
See your doctor first. No matter what route you take, experts agree that you should consult with your doctor before trying to quit smoking. Light smokers (fewer than 10 cigarettes a day) may respond to different treatments than heavy smokers, according to the American Cancer Society, and there may be other considerations based on additional medications or medical conditions.
Only quit cold turkey with caution. It is possible to quit smoking through sheer willpower alone. However, time will tell if this method will truly work. Vast amounts of scientific data detailing the addictive qualities of nicotine say otherwise. If your first few attempts at quitting cold turkey end in failure, don't blame yourself; consult your doctor and pursue a medically proven therapy.
Don't smoke when using nicotine products. Believe it or not, there are people who will insist on lighting up while wearing a nicotine patch. The extra dose of nicotine can cause nausea and dizziness, and may very well land you in the hospital.
Beware of side effects. Any prescription and over-the-counter medication carries the risk of side effects, and anti-smoking aids are no different. You should specifically ask your doctor about the side effects of non-nicotine medications like varenicline and buproprion, which can cause mood changes or sleep disturbances.
Don't give up. If nicotine patches don't do the trick, ask your doctor about gums or lozenges. And if these are ineffective, you can always consider prescription medications.
Build a support network. Studies have shown that anti-smoking remedies are more effective used in conjunction with counseling or support groups. If you can't afford a therapist and there are no stop-smoking groups in your area, ask your friends and family for their support and intervention when you feel like lighting up.
Stop-smoking aids: The rundown
You're ready to stop smoking but are confused over your anti-smoke aid options. Below is a quick guide to help you choose the best anti-smoking aid for you.
Nicotine Patches (*Est. $20 to $50 per month)
Proven effective in medical studies
Helps control nicotine cravings
Applications last for up to 24 hours
Can cause skin irritation
Not effective for all smokers
Some users experience nausea, dizziness or an upset stomach
Nicotine Gums, Lozenges and Nasal Sprays (*Est. 20 cents per dose)
Quickly curbs nicotine cravings
Good alternative to nicotine patches
Not as long-lasting as nicotine patches
Less effective than nicotine patches
Can cause various side effects, such as a sore throat
Varenicline (Chantix) and buproprion (Zyban) (*Est. $100 per month)
Doesn't contain nicotine
Clinically proven to work
Can cause mood or behavior changes
Not effective for all users
Some reports of severe side effects, including suicidal thoughts
Hypnosis and Acupuncture (*Est. $50 per session and up)
Effective for some smokers
Some practitioners are better than others
Not proven to work, according to clinical studies
May be more expensive than medication
Quitting Cold Turkey (Free)
Requires large amount of willpower
Doesn't address the addictive nature of nicotine
Ineffective for most smokers
Quitting smoking may be one of the toughest things that you do. Don't get discouraged if the first time doesn't stick. As many ex-smokers can attest, it took them a few (or several) tries to kick the sticks. Be patient. Smoking is a hard habit to break but with time, diligence and willpower, you will eventually do it.
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