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 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 replacements.
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.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Published on Jul 23, 2014
Medically reviewed on Jul 23, 2014 by George Krucik, MD, MBA