Every smoker knows the harm they are doing to their health, but clearly this is not enough of a deterrent. For the pack-a-day smoker however, maintaining their habit is now going to cost them over $3500 a year. If you needed the incentive to quit, the savings you can look forward to - not to mention the improvement in health of course - are significant.
If it was as simple as deciding not to smoke anymore most of the smokers in the world would have done so already. Giving up smoking is hard, though.
Nicotine is said to be as physically addictive as heroin or cocaine. But there is also the mental and emotional addiction that one has to overcome, which is what makes it so hard for many smokers to quit. According to WebMD, 95 per cent of smokers who try to stop smoking without medication or therapy end up relapsing.
If you’re serious about quitting, there are various ways to make the process of giving up easier and greatly improve your chances of kicking the habit for good. Unfortunately there is no one easy and painless “cure” for smoking, and different methods work for different people, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which aids might be suitable for you.
Nicotine Replacement Therapies
The idea behind the patches, gum, lozenges and inhalers is that they continue to deliver the nicotine your body is accustomed to, but without all the other toxic chemicals contained in cigarettes. This reduces or eliminates the physical cravings for nicotine, allowing people to overcome the mental part of their addiction - the habit itself - first. Once the psychological addiction has been broken, the nicotine dose can be gradually reduced over time.
The downside of patches, says Dr Sook Yin, medical director at the Seven Mile Clinic, is that one cannot smoke while wearing them. It therefore entails stopping smoking completely from one day to the next, which is too drastic a change for many.
Bupropion (Zyban) is a medication that is primarily prescribed as an anti-depressant. However, a noticeable side-effect of the antidepressant is that it reduces the urge to smoke and lessens nicotine cravings, explains Dr Yin. One would normally start taking the medication one to two weeks prior to one’s quit date and continue taking it for seven to 12 weeks after quitting.
Chantix (also sold as Champix outside the US) is a prescription medication that was developed to help people quit smoking. It works by blocking the nicotine receptors in the brain. The effect of this is two fold: the pleasurable effects of smoking are lessened (smoking may even begin to taste unpleasant) and it also reduces the withdrawal symptoms. It is usually taken for 12 weeks.
However, both of these prescription medications have been found to have some serious neuropsychological side-effects in certain patients and as a result the FDA now requires both of these medications to carry a ‘black box warning’ - a warning to alert physicians to the fact that medical studies indicate that the drug carries a significant risk of serious or even life-threatening adverse effects.
Changes in behaviour, hostility, depression and suicidal thoughts are among these side effects, so many doctors are now wary of prescribing these drugs, explains Dr Yin. Under no circumstances can they be prescribed to patients with any history of psychiatric or depression problems.
Hypnosis for smoking cessation is now offered by a number of therapists on island. Hypnotists induce a state of deep relaxation in their patients. In this state they are not asleep, but rather hyper-alert and very suggestible. Under hypnosis one is believed to be able to access the subconscious mind directly. The hypnotist can therefore use this state to introduce the idea in the patient’s subconscious mind that he or she is now a non-smoker. The hypnotised individual is likely to embrace any suggestions made to them in this state.
Smoking cessation Classes
Smoking cessation classes can also be arranged on demand. Led by a counsellor, those wanting to quit learn about how their addiction works and the things they can do to make breaking the habit easier. Setting a quit date, informing your friends and family of your intention, avoiding those triggers that make you smoke and a counselling element are all covered in these classes.
95 per cent of smokers who try to stop smoking without medication or therapy end up relapsing