Cross a Resolution Off Your List: Quit Smoking in the New Year
The coming of the new year brings with it new possibilities, and—of course—new rounds of resolutions. If you’re like us, you started 2013 ready to make positive changes in your life. And you know that whether these resolutions falter or fly depends on your ability to transform the resolution from a change, to a habit to a lifestyle!
One of the top resolutions made each and every year is to stop smoking cigarettes. But this task is also one of the most difficult that people face. While many succeed in breaking the habit, many more end up lighting up once more. If you’re a smoker who has been thinking of quitting, consider one of the following stop-smoking methods which can increase your chances of success.
Cold Turkey/Gradual Reduction
This method is probably the most popular and, unfortunately, also the least effective as it relies on willpower alone. Whether smokers choose to go cold turkey or rely on a gradual reduction, the American Cancer Society gives this method a dismal 4-7% success rate. It does work for some people, but between the effects of physical withdrawal symptoms and the weight of psychological and mental habits, most end up lighting up again. According to information from the Mayo Clinic, those who find success with this (or any other) method, typically also utilize support groups to help them make it through.
Nicotine Replacement, aka The Patch, Inhalers, Gum.
Nicotine replacement covers a wide range of products that help reduce the effects of nicotine withdrawal by substituting the nicotine obtained from cigarette smoke with a lower (or differently delivered) dose. The range of nicotine replacement products include many familiar items you can pick up at drug stores or supermarkets around the area, including patches, gum, nasal spray and inhalers. Studies show that as a whole these nicotine replacement methods can dramatically boost your chance of success when used correctly. Many of these products do require a prescription, and you should speak with your doctor before choosing to start any stop-smoking program that includes these items.
Medications, aka Zyban & Chantix
Two prescription medications have been proven to help some people give up smoking for good. Zyban is an anti-smoking pill that contains no nicotine but can reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and the urge to smoke by acting on chemicals in the brain related to nicotine craving, according to the Mayo Clinic. Chantix helps people stop smoking by interfering with nicotine receptors in the brain to produce two effects: reducing the pleasure received from smoking and reducing withdrawal symptoms. Studies show that Chantix can more than double your chances of quitting smoking compared to taking no medicines at all, and when paired with a stop-smoking program, it can be a big help in the fight to quit cigarettes.
Your doctor can help you decide if these stop-smoking medicines might be right for you.
This ancient Chinese medicine may provide a boon in your quest to quit by helping ease the symptoms of withdrawal including pain and nausea. Many patients find that acupuncture’s proven benefits can be particularly helpful when paired with other treatment methods. [For more on acupuncture, check out the article in the last issue of Contentment Health Magazine.]
Low-Level Laser Therapy:
This treatment method utilizes principles similar to acupuncture to trigger the body’s natural healing response. Instead of needles, fine-point “cold lasers” are used to stimulate the body’s endorphin production. Endorphins are natural chemicals in your body that signal your internal system to decrease stress and increase energy. Consistent absorption of nicotine into your body through cigarette smoking can allow nicotine to affect your body’s endorphin reproduction system. Laser intervention seeks to restore endorphin levels and remove nicotine’s hold on your system.
Hypnosis or hypnotherapy can be an effective treatment for some smokers. Under hypnosis, people are put into a relaxed state in which they are more open than usual to suggestions. This can be used to modify perceptions, behavior, sensations and emotions but—contrary to what you’ve seen from stage hypnotists—will not cause you to lose control over your behavior. Hypnosis can help those seeking to quit overcome mental or psychological hurdles and break the habits which reinforce the addiction. The effects of hypnosis can be long lasting, but it is most effective for those who are strongly committed to breaking the habit.