10 Ways to Quit Smoking
You’ve made the decision to quit smoking. Now comes the hard part: finding the method that suits your personality and lifestyle. We’ve got 10 ways that may help you quit and never light-up again.
1. Cold Turkey
Advantages: No planning involved, free.
Disadvantages: Low success rate, not for everyone.
Like the dish itself, going cold turkey-stopping the habit with no assistance-takes little preparation, but doesn’t appeal to everyone. If you’re a heavy smoker, or have tried quitting before and failed, this may not be for you.
Associate Professor Renee Bittoun, head of the Nicotine Addiction Unit at the Brain and Mind Research Institute in Sydney, explains why even the most determined quitters fail when they go cold turkey: “Quitting isn’t only a question of willpower; there’s also the issue of dealing with withdrawal symptoms.”
2. Cutting Down
Advantages: Inexpensive, useful learning experience.
Disadvantages: Doesn’t improve your health, limited success.
Less abrupt than cold turkey, this way enables you to wean yourself off cigarettes until you stop smoking entirely. This method suits smokers who want to quit more gradually. Be warned, though: your final puffs may also be the sweetest.
3. Complementary Treatments
Advantages: Can be effective when combined with counselling.
Disadvantages: No proven benefits, can be expensive.
If you want to quit with a dash of quirk, there’s an array of complementary methods available, from acupuncture to hypnotherapy. Do they work? Science has yet to proven their effectiveness but they certainly won’t decrease your chances.
Advantages: Long-term empowerment; provides psychological support.
Most experts fly the flag for counselling as one of the best ways to quit. You’ll get support for managing your withdrawal, develop a game plan for quitting, and start to understand the nature of your addiction. It’s particularly effective when combined with medication or nicotine replacement therapies.
Advantages: Visible sign of your effort; eases you into quitting.
Disadvantages: May cause temptation to smoke; some feel self-conscious.
Inhalers release nicotine through the mouth to take the edge off cravings. You won’t look particularly stylish, but it’s worth a try if you miss the physical routine of smoking.
Advantages: Portable and an instant remedy.
Disadvantages: Taste can be unpleasant; may stick to dentures.
Gum kicks cravings by giving you small doses of nicotine. The rule is don’t chew! Instead, knead the gum inside your mouth and place between your tooth and cheek so the nicotine is absorbed across the surface of the mouth.
7. Nicotene Lozenges
Advantages: Portable, discreet, and quick.
Disadvantages: Short-lived effects; not suitable for strong cravings.
Lozenges are a convenient option. They come in a variety of strengths and are a discreet way of controlling cravings with minimal effort. But while they can be a fast fix, the relief offered is mild at best.
Advantages: Convenient; simple; requires little engagement in quitting process.
Disadvantages: Can cause sleep disruptions; possible skin irritations; not sensitive to changing nicotine needs.
Patches can help you adhere to your decision to quit-literally. Stuck to your body, they release nicotine through the skin at a slow and steady rate. Worn throughout the day and sometimes at night, they give your body a continuous dose of nicotine to keep cravings at bay.
9. Varenicline (Champix)
Advantages: Proven effective.
Disadvantages: Not recommended in conjunction with nicotine replacement therapies (NRT); possible side effects include nausea, adverse mood and behaviour changes.
Champix blocks the effect of nicotine in the body, removes the pleasure associated with smoking and takes the edge off cravings. Clinical trials have shown it to be effective, although you should consult your doctor to find out if it’s right for you. This method is only available by prescription.
10. Bupropion (Zyban)
Advantages: Curbs cravings.
Disadvantages: Not suitable for everyone. Side effects include insomnia, sinus trouble, dry mouth, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, joint pain, nightmares.
A class of antidepressant, Zyban works by decreasing the physical craving for cigarettes thereby reducing nicotine withdrawal symptoms. It’s not recommended for people with epilepsy. This method is only available by prescription.