Choose the Best Way to Quit Smoking
Edited by Grimm, Doug Collins, Eng
This guide is part of our series of articles on improving and maintaining your health and wellness.
Your Body Determines the Best Way to Quit Smoking
We are all different, and what works for some won't work for others.
Because no two people are the same, no two methods of quitting smoking work the same for everyone. Some people may find that a particular form of treatment will help them more than another, but there will always be those who just can't quit using mainstream methods. That's why there are so many different ways to stop smoking.
In fact, there are so many different ways, that it can be confusing to someone who just wants to quit. There is conflicting, and sometimes even misleading information out there about quitting. Unfortunately, not everyone who wants to help you quit smoking is doing it for his or her own good. In fact, many are more concerned with promoting a product or method.
Because of this, we've taken a hard look at the most effective methods for quitting. These are almost all scientifically backed, and in the few cases where there is no accepted science backing them, we've noted that, but still included those methods, as some people stand by them. Read on for a list of the best ways to get rid of your cigarettes, and get back your health. They're listed in order from the most effective to the least effective.
You Need to Want to Quit Smoking In Order to Succeed
When you believe smoking to be a problem, you'll want to quit.
If you're serious about quitting, then you need to recognize it as a problem. This means you need to take ownership of that problem, and be responsible for putting an end to it. For many people this first step is the most difficult.
Part of the time this is because their own bodies are rebelling against them and fighting to keep nicotine in the blood stream. Other times, it's because the brain has built neural pathways the support and strengthen their dependency on cigarettes. And of course, there's also the social aspect. When everyone else is having a cigarette and enjoying it, it's hard not to have one for yourself. Even people who have quit smoking for ten or more years can find it difficult to keep themselves from picking up a cigarette in a social setting.
You also really need to want to quit smoking. If you can remember any time you've ever been very ill, with a flu or similar sickness, then you know what it's like to really want to be better, and to really want to be healthy. That's the ideal level of just how much you should want to quit smoking. Of course, many people who try to quit don't really want to. They are quitting for their long-term health, or because of concerns others have for their health.
That's probably why the number one method on our list is a combination of counseling and medications. Read on for the full list of ways to quit smoking, and find one that works for you.
The 9 Best Ways to Quit Smoking, According to Science
When it comes to smoking, science and statistics support some methods more than others.
- 1Counseling and Medication: The combination of sitting down with a third party to discuss your addiction to cigarettes and smoke, the associated difficulties, and the struggle to keep from having 'just one cigarette' is very helpful. It makes quitting seem like more of a cooperative team effort than the lonely and difficult journey people who quit smoking on their own often find it to be. The addition of medications makes it easier on the body to resist the physical and mental urges to have nicotine, which helps to slow, and then stop smoking altogether. Counseling can be provided over the phone, or in person. Both methods are equally effective, though some people prefer one to the other for personal or time related reasons.Advertisement
- Some problems with this method are that people miss appointments, or skip medications. It's not always easy to make fixed appointments, and there can be life situations that come up where it's just impractical to call a counselor or an emergency support line. These things can make it difficult to successfully quit.
- 2Varenicline (Chantix): This is a relatively new medication that is administered orally, by pills. When taken as directed, it is the second best way to stop smoking. These tablets can significantly increase your chances of quitting, more than doubling them, though this method is best when combined with counseling. Your physician can provide a prescription for Chantix tablets.Advertisement
- Medication without counseling or a secondary support option can leave one feeling like they're battling against the odds and alone. In fact, if you're trying to quit smoking alone, you probably are battling against the odds. Missing taking your tablets, or forgetting them at home, can spell disaster for a well-intentioned program to quit.
- 3Nicotine Patches and Gums (Nicoderm CQ / Nicorette): These methods, depending on your personal preference, can double your chances to successfully stop smoking. However, they don't break the nicotine addiction. Rather, they let you quit without also battling the symptoms of nicotine withdrawals. This lets you get over some of the worst physical symptoms, without also having to fight nicotine.
- While nicotine patches and gums are a good way to quit, they do nothing to break the nicotine addiction. You will later need to focus on breaking the nicotine addiction, which is where a lot of people just decide that cigarettes are easier and make them feel better. Counseling is a great way to help increase your chances to stop smoking when using a nicotine patch or gum.
- 4Nicotine Lozenges, Inhalers, and Nasal Sprays (Nicorette, and Nicotrol): These three methods are alternatives to Nicotine Patches and Gums. However, they are not as effective. For some people they work well, but overall, more people who use these methods end up smoking again before too long.
- Candies, inhalers, and nasal sprays are just less comfortable and socially acceptable than other methods listed earlier. Because of the social stigma and inconvenience, people trying to quit with these methods are less likely o stick with them, and as a result, more likely to start smoking again.
- 5Bupropion SR (Zyban, or Wellbutrin): According to studies by the NIH, Bupropion can contribute to mood swings and suicidal thoughts, among other unpleasant side effects. It is the most effective drug on the market to help combat the crippling nicotine addition cigarette smoking causes. People around the world are using it with few reporting side effects. As a result, it is highly recommended - just be careful, and follow the instructions of your physician to the letter.
- As with many medicines, there are side effects, some of which are very unpleasant. It's very important to discuss the use of this medicine with a qualified physician before starting any treatment plans. Following up regularly with a counselor is also a good idea, as a licensed therapist will be able to note any concerning changes in mood or behavior as a result of this medicine.
- 6Counseling or Combined Medications: Counseling, especially in person, is an effective method to help quit smoking. However, it does not address the physical and mental issues if nicotine addiction. Likewise, a combination of certain medicines discussed earlier, and prescribed by a competent physician, can also help. Unfortunately, while they help break the nicotine addition cycle, they don't address the social and personal stigmas, which is what counseling does.
- Either of these two methods can help, but neither is as effective alone. Combining them is absolutely the best method to achieve results, and kick the habit. Individually, they just aren't as effective.
- 7Internet Quit Programs and Self-Help Guides: Technically this VisiHow guide falls under this category, as we've worked to provide the best and most up to date information on quitting smoking. It's also 100% free of charge, and intended to benefit anyone trying to quit. However, professional counseling supporting with a doctor prescribed medication is still the most effective method. It's also a method we encourage. If you want to try quitting on your own, we're here to help, and encourage you to read our entire guide.
- Well intentioned as these quitting methods are, they sadly lack one important detail. The person who wants to quit smoking has to follow through on what is written in the guides, and battle their need to keep smoking - all alone. They don't have the benefit of any medications or counseling therapies, and instead have to rely on willpower and the knowledge they gain from written guides.
- 8Acupuncture, Hypnosis, and Laser Therapy: There is no scientific proof that any of these methods help people to quit. However, there are enough people who stand by them as effective treatments that we have listed them here. If you are willing to try what science considers to be fringe medicine, you may have acceptable results. Part of the problem with scientifically rating these methods is that there is no accepted science behind the therapies of Acupuncture and Hypnosis to use as a guide. With Laser Therapy, however, it's almost entirely quackery. Most of the time these 'FDA' approved devices are approved not because they help, but because they don't hurt people. In some cases, the laser frequency is so low that it can't even penetrate the skin to perform any miracle healing.
- The power of a placebo is well known in the medical field. While there are measurable benefits to acupuncture and hypnosis, there have been no benefits associated with laser therapy to date. Proceed with caution if you're willing to cross into the twilight zone in your quest to stop smoking.
- 9E-Cigarettes: There is a controversial movement of people who 'quit' smoking by switching to e-cigarettes. They are still addicted to nicotine, but just like those who use nicotine gums and patches, they still quit smoking. Of course, they still retain the joys associated with the feelings of smoking, and from their perspective, the only thing they are losing are the tars and other chemicals in traditional cigarettes. While there have been some fires and other concerns associated with e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine, in comparison to traditional cigarette use, they are statistically insignificant.
- There are dangers associated with e-cigarettes, but they're not what you might expect. There have been several fires as a result of e-cigarette charges malfunctioning, and two or three deaths reported worldwide over a two to three year period, all related to fires or malfunctions of the e-cigarette device. There have also been several cases of children becoming ill from the nicotine refills, and other ceases of pets killed from lethal doses of nicotine when they chewed or ate refill cartridges.
Tips and Suggestions for Quitting Methods that Work
- No one method works for everyone. Try different things until you find one that works for you.
- It's not unusual for a person to try and fail several times to quit smoking.
- Finding another habit to replace the one you are giving up can help. One reader claimed that sucking on cinnamon fireballs helped her get over the hump.
- Support networks are very important. Remember that your friends and family will want to help you quit, because it is unhealthy. Those who don't want you to quit will not support you. In that case, you should consider new friends who actually care about you.
- Sometimes it's helpful to find someone else who has already quit, and get them to help you. You can even call and talk to them when you're really desperate for a smoke.
Article Citations and References for Quitting Methods
The following articles, government sites, and medical journals were used in this guide.
- American Cancer Society
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Drug Abuse (NIH)
- Healthy Canadians
- Kids Health
- National Cancer Institute
- National Health Service (NHS)
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Queen Victoria Quit Org
- Smoke Free
- US Department of Health and Human Services
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Categories : Health & Wellness
Recent edits by: Doug Collins, Grimm