What Is the Best Way to Quit Smoking?
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to quit smoking. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and addiction to it is hard to break. There is also no one best way to quit smoking — the best way is whatever way really works for you and keeps you off cigarettes for good, which is why one person’s sworn advice on how to quit smoking will be completely different from another’s.
However, what seems to work for many ex-smokers is to not put all their eggs in one basket by relying on just one method. Instead, many people who quit smoking use a combination of two methods that work together: medicine and counseling.
Choose a Product for Quitting Smoking
The market is saturated with a variety of different smoking-cessation products. The FDA recognizes two pills and five nicotine-delivery methods that have been proven to effectively help people give up cigarettes. The pills are Chantrix and Zyban, and the nicotine-delivery methods are the inhaler, nasal spray, gum, lozenge and patch. Of course, it’s important to discuss your decision to quit smoking and your choice of product with your doctor prior to beginning your stop-smoking program, in case there are any risks for you associated with your preferred method that you might not be aware of.
Smoking causes coronary heart disease, which is the number-one killer in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is responsible for almost one in five deaths in the U.S. each year, which is more than the number of deaths from alcohol and illicit drug use, HIV, suicide, murder and vehicular accidents combined.
The Potential Problem with Stop-Smoking Products
The ultimate goal of using a smoking-cessation method is to rid yourself of your nicotine addiction. Nicotine products like gum or an inhaler are intended for short-term use — the recommended time frame can be anywhere from two to six months. Their purpose is to help ease the transition from being a smoker to being a non-smoker. Unfortunately, up to 5 percent of people who successfully use one of these ways to quit smoking trade their addiction to cigarettes for a dependence on the nicotine substitute instead.
Long-term use of an alternate nicotine-delivery method is far from the ideal outcome of a strategy to quit smoking. However, whereas nicotine is only one chemical, cigarettes contain over 4,000 chemicals, 40 of which are carcinogens, so between getting nicotine through smoking and getting nicotine through an alternate means like gum, the latter is considered the lesser of two evils.
Get Addiction Counseling
Research has shown that smokers who seek some form of structured professional support in addition to using a smoking-cessation product are much more likely to stay off cigarettes long-term. Some of the positive outcomes of getting individualized stop-smoking counseling include:
- Setting dates and deadlines for specific goals in your efforts to stop using first cigarettes, then the nicotine medicine
- Being aware of likely withdrawal symptoms and having coping tactics in place to deal with them
- Identifying triggers that make you want to smoke, or that have made you relapse during previous attempts to quit smoking, such as stress, drinking or being around other smokers
- Coming up with a plan to help you avoid those triggers, and strategies to successfully manage your temptation to smoke when triggers are unavoidable
Another way you can maximize your chance of success is to tell people that you are quitting smoking. You’ve already told your doctor, in order to get professional guidance in constructing your stop-smoking plan, but you should also tell your family, friends, coworkers — anyone who will help you stay on track and encourage you not to give up on your goal to be smoke-free.