An Overview of
Treatments to Help Quit Smoking
Many long term smokers will agree that their tobacco use was a bad choice and that they wish it had an easier solution to quitting. Just like any other damage control strategy, there is no quick fix to it. The goal of the treatment is to help tobacco users have a less painful transition towards complete recovery. Quitting smoking is beneficial to health at any age, and cigarette smokers who quit before age 35 years have mortality rates similar to those who never smoked.
Quitting it is not an easy task, especially without proper intervention. Talk to an addiction expert about an appropriate treatment plan. Only about 4 to 7 percent of people are able to quit smoking on any given attempt without medication or other help. Even with help, quitting can be frustrating. Do keep in mind that these discomforts are only a short-term problem but the results from it bring long-term benefits.
The goal of a successful treatment is NO cigarette at all lifelong. Even smoking a few cigarettes is dangerous and can be highly injurious to health. Therefore, never underestimate the toxic nature of tobacco.
Overall, 68.8% of current smokers indicated that they wanted to stop smoking completely. Counseling and other types of emotional support can boost success rates higher than medication alone. Those who utilized the benefits of counseling and/or cessation medication were nearly 30 percent more successful in quitting than those who used no support. This is good news: currently, the number of former U.S. smokers has exceeded the number of current smokers.
Importance of Treatment
We know that even a brief exposure to tobacco products can be injurious to health, so stopping early is beneficial. Even people who have failed multiple attempts can increase their chances of staying abstinent by appropriate treatment intervention.
Treatment and Drugs
The treatments recommended by most medical professionals include a combination of therapy and medication, as its effectiveness has been proven. Several medications have been FDA approved as safe and effective in treating tobacco dependence. They include Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), Bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin) and Varenicline (Chantix).
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): NRT provides nicotine without the other harmful chemicals in tobacco. This includes products like nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, nasal spray, and inhaler. They help to reduce craving and other discomforts from immediate quitting. Some people do try more than one product. However, it is highly recommended to talk to your consultant to determine which product to try and how to best use the product before starting on your own. These products have gone through rigorous clinical trials and have been approved as safe medical products. DO NOT mistake these with other advertised products like E-Cigarettes that are considered harmful.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is not considered as a lifelong treatment option, but is used in the initial treatment process to transition towards complete sobriety. No specific time frames have been recommended for the treatment. An addiction expert tailors a treatment plan based on every individual’s problem. Remember that nicotine does not cause cancer; it is the toxic chemicals in tobacco products that cause cancer.
- Bupropion Medication: Bupropion are FDA approved antidepressants that are also used to help with smoking cessation. Commonly used Bupropion (generic) are Zyban and Wellbutrin. The exact mechanism of action is unknown but it is thought to reduce cravings and nicotine withdrawals by increasing the levels of brain chemical dopamine and norepinephrine. These medications can also be used in combination with Nicotine Replacement Therapy products to help with treatment recovery.
- Varenicline (Chantix): Varenicline (Chantix) is a medication that works by acting on a nicotine receptor called Acetylcholine receptor. It works by stimulating the brain’s nicotine receptor in a similar way to cigarette but without overstimulation like a cigarette. This medication acts on the brain’s nicotine receptors to decrease withdrawal symptoms and reduce the feeling of pleasure you get from smoking. Potential side effects include nausea, headache, insomnia, and vivid dreams. Rarely, Varenicline has been associated with serious psychiatric symptoms, such as depressed mood, agitation, and suicidal thoughts.
Addiction experts strongly believe that Nicotine Replacement Therapy, Bupropion and Varenicline are generally a safe and well-tolerated treatment tool. All these products have been FDA approved and have undergone rigorous clinical trials for the treatment of nicotine dependence. Addiction experts as well as other trained medical professionals are familiar with using these treatment tools.
- CDC – Fact Sheet – Tobacco-Related Mortality – Smoking & Tobacco Use – http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality/index.htm – Accessed February 27, 2013.
- Nicotine dependence – MayoClinic.com – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nicotine-dependence/DS00307 – Accessed February 27, 2013.
- Safety Alerts for Human Medical Products Electronic Cigarettes – http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm173327.htm – Accessed February 27, 2013.
- Quitting Smoking Among Adults — United States, 2001—2010 – http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6044a2.htm – Accessed September 17, 2013.