Thursday, January 10, 2013

Giving up Smoking Details

Quitting Smoking Facts

It can be incredibly tough to quit smoking---only 4 to 7 percent of smokers are able to quit "cold turkey." But it's also incredibly important to quit smoking so that you can help cut your risk of developing deadly diseases. Your chances of kicking the habit increase if you try a therapy that helps you quit by curbing cravings or offering support. Combining therapies---such as taking a medication while attending a support group---makes your chances even higher.


Why is it so hard to quit smoking? Nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes. It produces stimulating or calming effects, depending on the amount in the blood. Over time it takes more and more nicotine to produce these effects, so you need to smoke more and more. Smokers who try to quit miss the feelings that nicotine produces. Nicotine withdrawal also has physical symptoms such as headaches and irritability.


Even though it's hard to quit smoking, it's worth it. Your body recovers from the effects of smoking over time, and this reduces your risk of developing smoking related diseases. A study of over 100,000 people found that within five years of quitting you cut your risk of heart disease in half and your risk of stroke by one-third. 15 years after quitting, your risk of these diseases is the same as a non-smoker's. In the short-term, you'll breathe easier and be more resistant to infection---and you'll save money.

Nicotine Replacement

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products help ease the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges are all available without a prescription. Patches are good for supplying a steady amount of nicotine throughout the day, but they can irritate the skin. Gum and lozenges are good replacements for cigarettes. Nicotine nasal spray and inhalers are available with a prescription. Inhalers are useful as they mimic taking a draw on a cigarette.


Several prescription medications work to curb nicotine cravings. Bupropion (brand name: Zyban) and varenicline (brand name: Chantix) affect chemicals in the brain to reduce the need for nicotine. Varenicline may be more effective than bupropion, as it also lessens the physical effects of nicotine, making it less pleasant to smoke a cigarette. If you can't take these medications, you may be prescribed older medications such as the anti-depressant nortriptyline or the blood pressure drug clonidine.

Other Methods

Telephone quitlines can provide support and information about resources for quitters. There are also support groups for people who would like to quit smoking. Meeting other people who are trying to quit can help you on your way. There may be a support group at your workplace, local community center or place of worship. Alternative therapies such as hypnosis and acupuncture may also be helpful in your quitting effort.

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