Planning to Quit Smoking? Start Here
You promised yourself you would quit when
you graduated from college, or when you turned 30, or when you had your first
child. You promised your family you would quit just as soon as you got settled
at your new job, or found the right program, or retired. Every year, millions
of Americans make a promise to themselves and to their families to quit
cigarettes once and for all. And every year, millions of Americans succeed. You
can be one of them.
The number of smoking-cessation aids and quit-smoking programs has grown dramatically in
recent years as more and more people seek to quit through solutions tailored to
them. Working with your doctor or a medical professional, you can find the
right plan, using one method or a combination of methods.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs)—such
as patches, gums, and inhalers—deliver to your body the nicotine it is craving
in a much safer form than cigarettes. Over time, you reduce the amount of
nicotine you consume until you have hopefully curbed your cravings entirely.
Prescription drugs like Chantix or Zyban alter chemicals in your brain in order
to ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms. With some of these medications, you’re
able to concurrently use nicotine replacement therapies like a patch or gum to
ease severe withdrawal symptoms. Some even let you continue smoking at the
beginning of the program.
Procedures like hypnosis, acupuncture, and
meditation can address some of the mental and physical habits you have
developed around cigarettes. Some people who have quit use these therapies
alone, while others use them in conjunction with medicines or nicotine
These include counseling and stop-smoking groups.
Many doctors and smoking-cessation specialists highly recommend them, in
addition to chemical or low-nicotine methods, as an additional level of help.
If you smoke, you know the damage your habit
is doing to your body—shorter life span, dramatic increase in cancer risks,
quicker aging process. You probably know more than one lifetime smoker who lost
a battle with lung cancer, pancreatic
cancer, or heart disease.
You can probably recite the roadblocks one
encounters when trying to kick the habit—relapse, weight gain, withdrawal. Each
person’s journey is different. Each success brings with it a new difficulty,
and each milestone you reach—one week without lighting up, one month, one year—
brings untold joy to you and your family. In the end, the decision to quit
should be yours, but the journey does not have to be taken alone.
Many people who want to quit do not know
where to start, what to do, or who to turn to.