There is no getting around it: nicotine is one of the most addictive, harmful and widely available drugs in the world. Although responsible for around 440,000 deaths each year, cigarettes and tobacco related products can be purchased at almost every corner store, supermarket, or liquor store in the country.
Nicotine is a drug found naturally in tobacco. It is highly addictive — as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Over time, a person becomes physically and emotionally addicted to, or dependent on, nicotine. Studies have shown that smokers must deal with both the physical and psychological dependence to be successful at quitting and staying quit.
Start with some pre-preparation by ensuring that you really do want to quit smoking and understanding why you smoke. Are these reasons powerful enough to motivate you when you are faced with those tricky situations? Write down your reasons for quitting. You may want to take a look at some of the benefits of quitting.
Set yourself a date for quitting. Try and choose a date that will be stress free but when you can find plenty to do to keep yourself busy. Try and set a date within about two weeks of reading this.
Ask your doctor for advice. This is especially important if you have health problems or are concerned about issues such as weight gain.
Smoking harms not just the smoker, but also family members, coworkers, and others who breathe the smoker’s cigarette smoke, called secondhand smoke or passive smoke. Among infants up to 18 months of age, secondhand smoke is associated with as many as 300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia each year. In addition, secondhand smoke from a parent’s cigarette increases a child’s chances for middle ear problems, causes coughing and wheezing, worsens asthma, and increases an infant’s risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Methods to help you give up
Whilst Cold Turkey is the most popular method to quit smoking, only 3% of people succeed using this method. Other treatment options to stop smoking are available and you can find information about these methods on this site. Remember, for the best advice on how to stop smoking, there’s few substitutes as good as seeing your doctor to discuss the full range of options available to you. If you’re stuck about what to say, try our conversation starter.
Consider using nicotine gum, patches, spray or other pharmacologic therapies. Nicotine is the drug that is in tobacco. You can use nicotine patches, lozenges or gum, available without a prescription at your local pharmacy, to quit smoking. It is a two-step process. First, you learn to live without smoking, but not without nicotine. On your quit day, you discontinue smoking and start using the patches or gum. Then you slowly cut back on the nicotine over 6 – 8 weeks.
Zyban and Chantix are prescription medications that can be used to help you quit smoking. Both medications should be started about 7 – 10 days before your quit date. Ask your primary care physician about using either of these medications to help you with quitting.
Join a quit-smoking program. You may prefer to be involved in an organized quit-smoking program while you are using the patches, gum, Zyban, or Chantix. None of the nicotine replacement products, Zyban, or Chantix are a miracle cure. You still need to learn to live without cigarettes in your daily life. Your personal decision to quit smoking combined with learning the skills to be smoke-free can help you be successful. Some people do better in a formal class with a set of instructions to follow. Group support is another reason to consider a formal quit smoking program. Others quitting at the same time provide support and encouragement for each other. Remember, the aim is to quit smoking. It does not matter how you do it.