Smoking Cessation Aids

When someone is trying to quit smoking, even when they are motivated and they know all the reasons to quit, they will sometimes relapse and buy another pack of cigarettes. This is sometimes because of the physical addiction they are fighting against, since nicotine can actually develop a physical as well as psychological hold on your body. Although you can ride out withdrawal symptoms by yourself over a few days, it can sometimes make life easier and the quitting process less painful if you use smoking cessation aids to lessen the hold of nicotine on your body and brain.

Smoking cessation aids may be for you if smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day, you have tried to quit in the past and it hasn’t worked, and you have withdrawal symptoms like grouchy behavior, trouble focusing, mood swings, and hunger when you go too long without a cigarette. If you smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes a day, you’re under 18, you have had a seizure or are at risk of seizures, or you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should try quitting without aids. Be aware that smoking cessation aids work best with the right mindset, support, and counseling – they are not a replacement for either.

These are the main types of smoking cessation aids and how they can work to help you:

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
NRT supplies your body with a form of nicotine other than cigarettes. Since nicotine is the addictive ingredient in tobacco, this lessens your withdrawal symptoms when you are trying to stop smoking (or using other tobacco products). When you smoke a cigarette, nicotine enters your bloodstream and rushes up to your brain to increase the levels of chemicals in your brain to make you feel good. After you stop smoking, these levels change and you feel the effects of withdrawal. NRT gives your body progressively less nicotine so that your body can gradually get used to less and less nicotine until it doesn’t need it anymore. NRT also takes longer to supply your body with nicotine than cigarettes, so there is less of an instant reward and these products are therefore less addictive than nicotine.

NRT comes in the form of gum, lozenges, nasal spray, inhalers, and adhesive patches. All methods work with the same efficacy so you can choose the right NRT for you based on their side effects and your lifestyle. Patches are a good option because it is hidden and you can put it on in the morning and forget about it. All other methods are good because you can control the frequency and amount of nicotine that is released into your system – of course this can be a drawback too if you lean too heavily on them. The inhaler is good because it simulates the act of smoking, which some people become quite attached to. The nasal spray has the worst side effects. The side effects of all other NRTs are minor and most people will not stop using the aid due to side effects.

Never smoke when using an NRT since this can cause nicotine overdose and it defeats the purpose of the aid. NRTs are available over the counter without a prescription and may therefore be more convenient than some other aids.

Bupropion SR (Zyban)
This is a prescription medication that contains no nicotine but reduces cravings for tobacco. It is also prescribed as an antidepressant, but it’s ability to help you quit smoking isn’t related to it’s antidepressant use. The mechanism behind why bupropion aids in smoking cessation is not known. You will begin taking bupropion daily a couple of weeks before you stop smoking to build up the levels of medication in your body, and you will continue taking the prescription 7-12 weeks after you stop using tobacco. You can take it for 6 months up to a year if necessary. It can be used alongside NRT.

Varenicline (Chantix)
This prescription medication also contains no nicotine and helps with craving and withdrawal symptoms when you quit smoking. It acts on the sites of the brain affected by nicotine to block the effects of nicotine from tobacco products. This means that cigarettes will lose their affect on your brain and body when you are taking varenicline – the medication makes cigarettes lose their appeal so that you don’t want them anymore. You will start taking varenicline a week before you quit smoking up to 24 weeks after you quit. During the week where you are still smoking, cigarettes will begin to lose their effect on you. Do not increase your use of cigarettes to combat this. Their loss of affect on you helps you quit.

Second-Choice Medications
Other medications that could be prescribed to help you quit smoking are nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor) and clonidine (Catapres). Though these medications have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as smoking cesssation aids, the Tobacco Use and Dependence Clinical Practice Guideline Panel of the U.S. Public Health Service recommends them as second-choice medications for this purpose. The mechanism behind why they help you to quit is not known, and the medications were origionally intended for other use. Specifically, nortriptyline is normally used as an antidepressant and clonidine is normally used to treat high blood pressure. Doctors will sometimes prescribe these medications when first choice smoking cessation aids have already been tried but they haven’t worked.

Talk to your doctor before you start on any smoking cessation aid, even if it’s not prescription, especially if you are pregnant or have any health complications.

Before You Use A Smoking Cessation Aid
When trying to quit smoking, many people use smoking cessation aids because they are afraid to quit on their own: they feel the physical or psychological hold of cigarettes is too strong for them to do it alone. However, whether you use smoking cessation aids or not, you still have to have the willpower to quit. You must still believe you can do it. Otherwise no smoking cessation aid will be able to help you. If you’re looking into smoking cessation aids because you feel the task of quitting is too big by yourself, be warned that smoking cessation aids are not a miracle cure for tobacco addiction – they can help but only if you’re ready to quit yourself. You need to get ready, get support, learn how to get along without cigarettes, and deal with setbacks whether you use smoking cessation aids or not.

Electronic Cigarettes

The biggest reason people claim to want to quit smoking is health. Most people are aware of the many dangers of smoking including cancers such as lung, larynx, esophagus, bladder and the oral cavity. Additionally smoking is proven to lower the amount of oxygen available to the heart, which leads to carido-vascular diseases.

The electronic cigarette aims to remedy all of that by eliminating the combustion of tobacco altogether. The product, also called a digital portable vaporizer, delivers measured doses of nicotine as well as flavor without physical combustion by slightly heating the nicotine liquid. This eliminates the classic health problems of a regular cigarette including cancer.

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