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Six ways to kick the smoking habit

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Many people who smoke want to quit, and may have tried their own methods and systems. We have put together a list of some of the options available to you to help you break the habit. Backed up with results from medical studies, we look at methods available including their chances of success and cost for a single course of treatment. To quit smoking has long term health benefits and even helps you out financially with a reduction in life insurance premiums for non smokers over their smoking equivalents.

Option 1 – Cold turkey

This is an option that has the least chance of success but is at the forefront of people’s minds when they decide that they want to stop smoking. Looking from the angle of a non-smoker with all the associated health risks with smoking tobacco products, it seems the most logical and un-complicated method to stop.

Cold turkey involves the user deciding that they want to stop smoking, quitting all tobacco products abruptly and without aid from nicotine replacement aids. Success rates are low at around 7% as the smoker goes through periods of nicotine withdrawal and a break in their normal routine that may involve them going for cigarette breaks during parts of the day or smoking as part of their leisure activities.

Side effects are minimal with only the increased cravings taking a toll on your willpower rather than anything else.

Option 2 – Acupuncture

Aimed at the more open minded people that may want to try alternative therapy methods to quit smoking, acupuncture is a Chinese treatment dating back more than 2000 years. Success rates from medical studies vary based on location but average around the 15% bracket.

Treatment involves fine needles being inserted into the skin at various points of the body thought to be associated with smoking and withdrawal symptoms. This allows the smoker to better handle their strain on their willpower and quit smoking after they have been through a few sessions.

Advice given from people who perform acupuncture is to check that the person performing the treatment is registered to perform the procedure and is using newly sterilized needles. Failure could lead to infection in places that the treatment was applied.

Option 3 – Nicotine replacement therapy

Another of the most tried methods to quit smoking is by using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). NRT involves using a nicotine replacement product such a chewing gum, patch or inhaler during the times when the cravings for nicotine become unbearable. Speaking to smokers suggests that they may decide to use NRT products during specific times that they would normally associate with lighting up a cigarette, these include first thing in the morning, after meals or during nights out with friends.

Success rates are around 23% with the average cost to run through a course of NRT being approximately £240 ($384). Many governments offer free or heavily discounted products through quit smoking schemes available in your area. If you do choose to receive products as part of a scheme they will usually require counseling sessions so you can be monitored and it has also proven to further increase success rates.

A broad range of side effects have been recorded due to the different treatments of NRT that are available, they include skin irritation (associated with skin patches), dizziness and headaches due to the nature of different chemicals being absorbed into the body.

Option 4 – The taper method

A slight variation of the cold turkey method that involves the smoker gradually reducing nicotine intake rather than a complete stop. The smoker decides on timescales that they will reduce their nicotine intake with the aim to be cigarette free by a certain date. A typical course would involve a smoker that may usually smoke 5-10 cigarettes per day to reduce their intake by 1 cigarette per day off their usual weekly cycle. Success would then be achieved for a 5 a day smoker by following the above cycle, eventually smoking 1 cigarette per day in week 5 before not smoking from week 6 onwards.

Success rates are much higher using this method (35%), due to the gradual reduction in nicotine into the body that allows the nicotine receptors in the brain to adjust to the newly reduced levels. Again the other advantage to this method is that there are no medical side effects apart from the increased mental strain on your willpower.

Option 5 – Champix

A tablet developed by Pfizer that is part of a course that usually runs for approximately 12 weeks. The tablet itself acts like a NRT product in the way that it controls nicotine cravings but does so slightly differently. Champix contains an active ingredient varenicline that acts on the same brain receptors as nicotine but contains no nicotine itself. The pill effectively blocks the cravings for tobacco products and reduces the satisfaction that a smoker will achieve from smoking a cigarette.

Success rates from using Champix have been recorded around 44% but come with a long list of possible side effects that include stomach pain, dizziness, headaches and insomnia. The product is still in its infancy with only being released during 2011 but is showing good signs of success with many patients.

Option 6 – Hypnotherapy

A process that involves hypnotizing the subject into believing they no longer need to rely on smoking. The person is then made to focus on more healthy alternatives.

From the limited results of tests success rates have been recorded at around 66% but medical assessments into the success of the procedure are few and far between. There is also a cost involved at around £250 for a stop smoking session and could also have some side effects such as headaches, sickness and drowsiness.

Final note – We would advise to check all available methods to quit smoking and you must remember that what one person may find as a successful method, another may not find so effective. Support from family members and friends it vital during the transition periods and should focus on the positive aspects and reassurance rather than a discipline approach.

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