Live Healthier: Kick the Habit With Less Stress and More Enjoyment

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So, you’re ready to quit smoking and you’re looking for the most effective way of going about it. Kicking the habit can be difficult and it will involve some lifestyle changes.

You’ll need to find the quitting strategy that works best for you. Going cold turkey, using medicines, nicotine replacement therapy and vaping are some of the options.

Going cold turkey

Giving up smoking completely without using medication or NRT can be challenging but it’s the option many smokers choose. The process is easier for people who smoke fewer than ten cigarettes each day. You’ll need to be mentally ready for this and have a strong support system since cravings and temporary withdrawal symptoms are likely. These include depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, headaches and dizziness.

It helps if you set a specific date on which to quit. Make sure it’s not around a stressful time like the holidays or during exams. You should plan ahead for how you will handle social situations in which you would normally smoke. It may also be helpful to join a support group of other people who are trying to quit smoking.

Using medications

There are two main prescription drugs that can help you to stop smoking.  Bupropion, also known as Wellbutrin, Zyban, or Aplenzin does not contain nicotine. It is an anti-depressant that reduces symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Your doctor will most likely advise you to start taking it one to two weeks before you quit smoking and for a few weeks after you fully quit.

Varenicline or Chantix was developed exclusively to help people quit smoking. It interferes with the nicotine receptors in the brain by lessening the pleasure you get from smoking and reducing the symptoms of withdrawal. You should start taking it a week before you quit. Varenicline is taken in increasing dosages over a 12-week period. Note that it has been linked to depression, thoughts of suicide, and suicide.

Nicotine replacement therapy

The above drugs may be used along with nicotine replacement therapy. NRT is said to double the likelihood that you will quit smoking for good and many people find them helpful. The Food and Drug Administration has approved five types of over-the-counter NRT products: nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, nasal sprays, and inhalers. These deliver small controlled doses of nicotine which should help satisfy your craving and reduce the urge to smoke. They do not contain the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. If you want to use more than one at a time, you should speak to your doctor to ensure you’re not getting excessive nicotine.

Vaping

Vaping

Vaping refers to inhaling and exhaling the vapor from an electronic cigarette or similar device. E-cigarettes produce an effect similar to that of a tobacco cigarette. You go through many of the same motions as you do when smoking so psychologically, the experience is much the same. There is, however, no tobacco smoke involved. You won’t smell like an ashtray or be banished to the smoking section of venues.  There’s also a whole culture associated with vaping and companies like Vaporescence offer a wide range of vaping products and accessories.

A study published in the British Medical Journal found that people who used e-cigarettes were more likely than non-users to successfully quit smoking for at least three months.  Researchers also found that e-cigarette users were much more likely to try to quit smoking in the first place than non-users. Moreover, in 2017 cancer researchers at Georgetown University posited that cigarette smokers could live much longer if electronic cigarettes were fully embraced as a replacement for tobacco over the next ten years.

It should, however, be noted that e-cigarette use is not without controversy. Professor of oncology at Georgetown’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and lead researcher David Levy pointed out that while vapers are not exposed to the carcinogens and chemicals associated with lighting up, they still had the addictive and systemic effects to contend with.  Other researchers found evidence that using e-cigarettes can encourage people to start using tobacco. E-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA.

If you’re ready to quit smoking, talk to your doctor about your options. Some people find success in going cold turkey while others need nicotine replacement therapy or medication. Some people use more than one method. You may need to give it a few tries before you find what works best for you.

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