The following information is intended to provide basic support and guidance regarding smoking cessation. It is not intended to be medical advice or to replace the care or guidance provided by a physician or other healthcare professional. The information listed in this guide is subject to change at any time.
Talk to your doctor: Nicotine - and withdrawal from it - may affect certain health conditions and create interactions with medications. Let your medical provider(s) know right from the start when you plan to stop smoking, dipping or chewing tobacco. Your doctor may have recommendations.
Get support: Let your friends and relatives know that you are trying to quit. Ask them not to offer you tobacco or use it around you. Join a support group, and identify a fellow quitter with whom you can form a buddy system: you call him/her when you have a craving and offer the same support in return. This kind of system can make both buddies stronger.
Figure out your "triggers": When are your cravings strongest? When you're under stress? After a meal? When you first wake up, or at the end of the day when you're unwinding? If you can pinpoint some times when you are most likely to reach for a cigarette, dip or chew, you can try behavior modification by avoiding/modifying such situations, or by using substitutes like carrot sticks or gum.
Think "five minutes at a time": When you "need" a cigarette, dip or chew, try to wait five minutes. Many people who can do this often find that by the time the five minutes have passed, the urge is gone.
Write down all the reasons why you want to quit: Keep copies of this list in the places where you usually keep your cigarettes. Seeing the list when you reach for them can help you stop and think before doing it.
Stay busy: Try to become more active. Biking, walking, working out, going to a movie - these are all examples of ways to keep yourself busy and distracted. And remember - it's good reinforcement to socialize with others who are also trying to quit.
Getting Help to Quit
There are many programs and products designed to help people quit smoking. Using Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medicines and a support program greatly increases the chance of quitting successfully.
Check with your physician about other FDA-approved drugs that have been shown to help people stop smoking. These drugs may ease withdrawal symptoms and/or block the effects of nicotine if the individual continues to smoke. These medicines may be covered under your health plan formulary.
Non-Prescription Medicines - Nicotine Replacement
• Nicotine patch - The patch is a form of nicotine replacement therapy. The purpose of the patch is to lessen your urge to use tobacco and cut down on your nicotine craving while you stop smoking. The patch delivers a sustained dose of nicotine throughout the day. The patch is available "over the counter" at pharmacies.
• Nicotine gum or lozenge - Like the patch, nicotine gum and lozenges lessen your cravings while you withdraw from nicotine. Both allow the user to treat sudden or situational cravings. Gum and lozenges can sometimes be used in combination with the patch; consult a medical provider. These products are also available over the counter. Nicotine Replacement products may be covered by your health insurance, even if they are over-the-counter products.
Support groups, classes, or phone coaching
These programs offer people looking to quit an opportunity to receive and give support to others who are also trying to quit. Groups may also offer educational material on quitting.
Other Methods of Quitting
• Hypnotherapy - Some clinicians use hypnosis as a form of treatment during which the patient enters a "trance" and is then more receptive to suggestion. Suggestions can include eliminating smoking, phobias, stress, and obesity, among other maladies.
• Bio-feedback - This treatment by bio-feedback professionals and non-invasive bio-feedback machinery helps you learn your body's responses when you become stressed and "need" nicotine, and how to change or "re-channel" your feelings at those times. Bio-feedback is also used for many other stress syndromes.
• Cognitive Therapy - Cognitive therapy is relatively short-term and focuses not on your early childhood experiences, but on how you are thinking, functioning and communicating today. Cognitive therapy is action-oriented, helping the client learn self-help skills to gain freedom from real-life issues like tobacco use, alcohol abuse, marital conflict, panic and other problems.
• Acupuncture - Acupuncture may work for some people by intercepting messages sent by the brain to the body that demand more nicotine, thereby disrupting the addictive process. Acupuncture is said to be able to minimize nicotine cravings, calm the nervous system and strengthen willpower. Acupuncture can only work if you really want to stop using tobacco.