QUIT SMOKING TODAY: THE LATEST RESEARCH ON KICKING THE HABIT
Even individuals who have smoked for years know that it’s a bad habit. The problem is, it’s also an addictive one. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available that make it easier to quit smoking. From going cold turkey with support to checking out the vast array of patches, gum, and other stop smoking aids on the market, there’s a solution that will make it possible for anyone to give up their smoking habit and start developing a healthier lifestyle.
Smoking is something that is entirely different from one person to the next. This is the reason why some people seem to be able to quit easily, while others struggle repeatedly. It is also why there will never be just one cessation program, because every smoker will have their own needs and preferences.
One thing is certain: anyone can quit smoking. It may seem impossible at times, and it may require more than one effort, or even a dozen different attempts, but with perseverance it can be accomplished.
Understanding the Addiction
Smoking is not just a habit, but a genuine addiction. It affects numerous centers in the brain that control cravings and makes the process seem more pleasurable. For some smokers, it has become their method of relaxation or a way to give themselves permission to take a break. Others use it to socialize, rebel or reward themselves.
Recent studies have shown that people who have more activity in the part of the brain known as the Insula are more likely to quit smoking. Those with less activity often succumb to their cravings. There is no way to change this activity level, at least not yet. Of course, this does not mean that repeated failed attempts are a signal that someone cannot quit smoking, it just means it will be harder for them than others.
How Prescription Medications Help
Most prescription drugs used for smoking cessation are able to reduce the urge to smoke. Some of these medications were initially used to treat depression and the unexpected side effect of losing interest in smoking was discovered through the personal experiences of the patients. How exactly they work is not really known. Some are able to neutralize the pleasure received from smoking. This means that smokers will begin to desire cigarettes less because they are not getting the thrill they once did.
These medications can take up to a year to work successfully and they can have some serious side effects. It is important to remain under the care of a physician while this method is being used.
The Benefits of Over-the-Counter Products
Without a prescription it is possible to purchase a number of items that can assist with the cravings of nicotine withdrawal. These products, like gums, patches and lozenges, are a form of nicotine replacement therapy. These products make it possible to reduce withdrawal symptoms by taking away some of the urge to smoke. Most of the products suggest stepping down slowly, reducing a few cigarettes every few days. Under most plans people are able to finally stop within a period of about six months. Some of the products can have minor side effects, and smoking too much or overusing the products can be dangerous.
How Vaping Can Assist With Quitting
Using an e-cigarette has proven to be a valuable tool for people attempting to kick their cigarette habit. With vaping, the user is able to gradually reduce the nicotine level in the e-juice they purchase. It allows them to still have something that feels and looks similar to a cigarette and even preserves their social smoking.
Eventually users can move on to liquid that is nicotine free and essentially break their need for the drug. Some people choose to continue using the e-cigarette at this point, others decide to give it up entirely. There are some health concerns related to long term vaping, but the studies have yet to determine definitively if this practice is worse or better than remaining a traditional cigarette smoker.
Alternative Methods to Try
Using hypnosis may help some to stop their smoking habit. The result has as much to do with the quality of the hypnotist as it does with the determination of the smoker. However, many have found it to be helpful during the first few weeks of quitting when cravings are their strongest.
Acupuncture continues to become more popular in the health care industry and many people are using it to help stop their smoking habit. There are not enough studies yet to prove this method works, but there is no reason not to try. Acupuncture is known to reduce stress, and since stress can be a trigger for smokers, it may help in that manner even if it is not able to entirely eliminate nicotine cravings.
Low level laser therapy also has no genuine studies backing it to prove its usefulness, but there are many who have undergone the procedure who swear it works. The lasers are supposed to help release endorphins, reducing the need for a cigarette to provide the same relaxed feeling. Since there are no health concerns with the procedure, there is no reason anyone interested should avoid trying the procedure.
Other Helpful Tips for Quitting
There have been phone lines, pamphlets and guides for boosting morale and providing tips to smokers trying to kick the habit for years. Today, there are many additional resources available to look for advice, support and motivation. Mobile apps are a helpful resource because they offer not just support and advice, but can also assist with tracking cravings and nicotine consumption. The even offer calorie counters to make certain that any substitution of food for cigarettes is kept under control. These apps are useful because they can travel with the smoker wherever they go, and be close at hand when a confidence boost is needed.
Blogs and Forums
Another good resource are, obviously, blogs and forums. Here people are able to read the experiences of others and share their own stories of “survival”. It can be easier for people to make it through one more day when they hear how others, just like them, did it too. Blogs also are a great way to learn about new products, as well as express the emotional struggle may undergo while working to break an addiction.
Quitting smoking, even with all of the innovative products, procedures and techniques available, is still hard. The average person will make seven attempts to quit before they are finally successful. The good news is, those who continue to try, do usually succeed. Since every day without a cigarette provides a little benefit to the body, there is no reason to not try a method or two. Remember, everyone is different, so look through the list and pick what appeals to you. It does not matter what research studies say or what statistics are available. The method that finally works for you is the most successful and effective one.