Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Alternative Techniques To Prevent Smoking

Alternative Methods
to Stop Smoking

The nicotine habit is one of the hardest addictions to break. The more conventional methods, like nicotine patches and gum, can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. In addition, alternative methods to stop smoking have been developed with the same aims in mind. These techniques work to change the behavioral and physiological processes associated with the nicotine experience.


Nicotine addiction is a powerful habit that alters the brain's chemical processes. The brain's craving for nicotine's effects makes cigarettes as difficult a habit to break as cocaine and heroin. On top of the physiological dependency are behavioral rituals that go along with the experience. Alternative smoking-cessation methods are designed to recondition the brain chemistry and redirect corresponding behaviors associated with our experience of nicotine.


Many alternative smoking-cessation methods focus on changing the behaviors associated with smoking. By changing these behaviors, the brain's association with the experience will change accordingly. Other common behavioral approaches involve reducing the amount of nicotine in the system at a gradual rate, in an attempt to wean smokers from nicotine dependence. The success rates of these methods have been shown to vary; however, positive results have been observed in those who participate in therapy along with one of the behavioral techniques. Support and encouragement from friends and family play a positive role as well.


Scheduled smoking is one of many alternative technique used to stop smoking. This process involves setting up a "pre-plan" that lists specific times of the day for smoking a cigarette. With each successive day or week nicotine intake is reduced, which allows the body to adapt to a reduced nicotine level. Small, computerized devices can be used to create the pre-plan for you when following this program. The device then uses its pre-planned schedule to cue you whenever it's time to smoke.

Techniques that attempt to replace the pleasant experience associated with smoking with unpleasant sensations are known as aversive-therapy methods. Some of these involve having participants smoke continuously while focusing on the unpleasant aspects of the habit. This is carried out until the smoker becomes nauseous. Another form of aversive technique involves administering electro-shocks as participants go through the motions of smoking a cigarette, from the moment they pick up the pack until the last puff is taken. Silver acetate, a substance that makes nicotine taste bad, is also used as an aversive form of therapy.

Other, less commonly used methods are hypnosis therapy and acupuncture. Hypnosis involves using the power of suggestion within a relaxed state of consciousness. This method has shown some success, though results are varied. The acupuncture technique makes use of small needles placed on specific areas of the body. This is done to stimulate the release of certain brain chemicals, and reduce cravings and symptoms of withdrawal.


One main purpose of a smoking-cessation technique is to reduce the degree of withdrawal you experience as you try to break the habit. Often, continued symptoms like irritability, cravings, anger and frustration are enough to cause a relapse. Nicotine-replacement therapies deal specifically with these withdrawal experiences, while reducing nicotine intake and quenching the body's cravings. As the smoking habit itself depends on the reward effects of nicotine, setting up a reward system for progress made as you reduce your intake is an important part of the process. The success of alternative methods have been shown to vary substantially, though this may be due to the individual characteristics of each smoker.


Regardless of the method you use, a certain amount of determination is needed to make any attempt to stop smoking worthwhile. How determined you are may help decide which method will work best for you. Alternative methods in which cigarettes remain readily available may pose the risk of relapse, as the temptation to smoke "just one extra" cigarette becomes greater. Determination can help when this happens. Also, know that any "breaks" you give yourself will all but eliminate any progress you have made up to that point. Knowing what your weaknesses are, and being honest about your determination level, can go a long way in helping you actually kick the habit and decide go about it.

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