Ah, one of my favourite subjects since smoking has been my Achilles’ heel for a long time. I stopped a few years ago for a glorious 11 months and although it’s something that I’ve wanted to tackle again, other things keep getting prioritized. Hopefully today’s guest blogger, Trisha, can help!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know by now that quitting smoking is in your best interest. Fortunately, tremendous advances in physical and social science have made doing so easier than ever, although quitting is by no means a sure thing.
Use the following list of smoking cessation methods as a starting point for your own personalized plan to stop smoking once and for all.
Prescription smoking-cessation aids are relatively new on the scene, but they can play an integral role in your quit-plan. One word of caution: Avoid unreasonable expectations when it comes to these drugs as they are not cure-alls.
- Zyban. The trade name for bupropion, Zyban does not contain nicotine, which makes it perfect for use in concert with a nicotine patch. Instead, it regulates the brain’s uptake of serotonin and dopamine, two compounds that your body releases in response to the introduction of nicotine. In other words, it fools your body into thinking you’re still a smoker.
- Chantix. This drug works by inhibiting the function of certain nicotine receptors within your brain. You can continue to smoke while using Chantix, but nicotine will slowly lose its effect on you and you should theoretically be able to stop without serious physical withdrawal symptoms. [Editor’s Note: Chantix is not a good drug to take if you have a personal or family history of depression.]
- Nicotine patches. These simple devices attach to your arm and release a pre-determined dose of nicotine into your bloodstream over a period of hours, lessening the effects of withdrawal.
If you do choose to take a prescription medication to help you quit smoking, remember that none of them begin working overnight. For maximum effect, you’ll want to begin taking Chantix or Zyban a week or more before you stop smoking for good. It helps to set a “quit date” both to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the ordeal and to coordinate your course of prescription treatment, which should last no longer than 12 weeks.
Setting a quit date also gives you time to think about life after smoking. To maximize your chances of success, you’ll want to:
- Throw out the cigarettes, ashtrays and extra lighters in your house and car.
- Buy “oral substitutes” like gum, swizzle sticks, straws, and toothpicks to physically replace cigarettes while you adjust to being an ex-smoker.
- Avoid situations in which you’ll be forced to interact with other smokers, like designated workplace smoking areas and your local bar.
This is tougher than it sounds. The most common “temptations” are situations in which you formerly would have lit up, like in the car on your way to work, at workplace coffee breaks, and in social settings like bars and parties. Coffee and alcohol tend to lower your resistance to the idea of smoking, making a relapse more likely, so avoid these two drinks for the first few weeks after you quit.
Replacing smoking with healthier activities is also a great idea: When you feel like breaking down and lighting up, go for a jog or brisk walk instead.
No one ever said quitting smoking would be easy. To maximize your chances of success, set a hard-and-fast quit date after which you will no longer smoke, use prescription stop-smoking aids or nicotine patches, and avoid situations that tempt you to smoke. Remember, the momentary discomfort associated with quitting is worth it in the long run.
About the Author
My doc mentioned, too, that the stop smoking drugs aren’t cure-alls, they simply help. The trick is to be motivated and really want to stop smoking with all your heart. Did you kick the habit? How did you do it?