Despite its addictive quality, nicotine is not impossible to quit. More than a few techniques have been designed to help smokers kick the habit.
Nicotine has long been a popular drug for humanity to consume for its short-term beneficial effects, even though the costs become catastrophic over time.
The problem is that once you start smoking, it becomes very difficult to stop. As the New York Times points out, it’s harder to quit nicotine than heroin.
So, how do you quit? As with any habit, it comes down to a multi-pronged approach that treats both the chemical reaction in the body as well as the habit itself.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) can help manage the physical craving. This gets the drug into the system, via a patch, gum, lozenge, nasal spray, or inhaler.
NRT allows for the weaning away from the drug over time, and while the use of nicotine lasts longer, it eliminates some of the other negative health effects from smoking quicker.
Some find the use of counteractive drugs to be helpful as well, whether prescription (Bupropion or Varenicline) or off-label (Nortriptyline or Clonidine).
Non-pharmaceutical methods of quitting can be effective, too. Some find success with hypnosis, training the mind to stop craving a cigarette. Others swear by acupuncture, or low-level laser therapy.
There sometimes seem to be as many methods of quitting as there are ex-smokers, and it may take some experimentation to discover what’s best for a particular individual looking to stop.
In addition, the behavioral aspects of smoking need to be addressed. Many smoke in particular situations; for example, in times of stress, or when consuming alcohol.
Careful care must be taken in such situations, and alternative behaviors need to be introduced to help alleviate the dangers of a relapse. It’s very easy to slip into old habits, so this is the single biggest reason that some end up backsliding.
It’s also important to be realistic, and come up with a plan. One seven-step approach that works for some includes setting a date, expecting to feel miserable, removing smoking triggers, trying nicotine replacements, asking about drugs approved by the FDA to help smokers quit, knowing why you crave cigarettes and getting support or counseling.
That may be right for many, but others may need different options, such as exploring natural remedies; some have found St. John’s Wort or Valerian to be helpful.
Another key point is to not get discouraged. Few succeed in quitting smoking the first time, but every successive attempt makes it more likely to stick.
There is a lot to be gained by getting tobacco out of your system for good. Quitting may well be the healthiest thing that anyone can do to live a longer and healthier life.
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