10 Smoking Cessation Tools
Allison Tsai | Oct 3, 2012
Quitting smoking is tough, and figuring out which product or medication is best to help you quit can be even tougher. Here are some of the more popular methods for smoking cessation.
The patch provides a measured dose of nicotine through the skin, and works by allowing a smoker to wean themselves off nicotine by reducing the doses over time. The patch can be bought without a prescription and there are different types and strengths. A study publised in January, however, concluded that nicotine patches and gum do not effectively help people quit smoking long-term.
This is a fast-acting form of nicotine that is taken through the mucous membranes in the mouth. It can be bought over-the-counter and comes in two strengths. The advantage of gum is that you can control the doses. You should chew the gum until you get a peppery taste or a tingle, then hold it inside your cheek until the taste fades. But like the patch, gum has been found to be ineffective for long-term smoking cessation.
Nicotine nasal spray is only available by prescription, is absorbed through the nose and enters quickly into the blood stream. The spray relieves withdrawal symptoms and allows you to control doses. The nasal spray can become as addictive as cigarettes, however, so it’s important to use it only as long as needed.
Nicotine inhalers, also only available by prescription, are most like smoking a cigarette. When you take a puff from the inhaler, a cartridge pushes out a nicotine vapor that is absorbed through the mouth. The recommended dose is four to 20 cartridges a day for up to six months.
Nicotine lozenges are similar to the gum, and they also come in two strengths. These can be bought without a prescription. Remember to suck on the lozenge until it is fully dissolved, rather than biting or swallowing it like hard candy. It works because the nicotine is absorbed in the membranes of the mouth.
Electronic cigarettes are a refillable product that looks like a cigarette, but runs on a battery and electronic chip. When the smoker puffs, the product delivers a mist of flavorings and nicotine. However, a recent study concluded that e-cigarettes are still damaging the lungs. Researchers found that study participants showed an immediate rise in airway resistance after using an e-cigarette.
Some prescription drugs have been proven to help people quit smoking, and can be used in combination with nicotine replacement therapy (gum, patch, etc.). Bupropion is an anti-depressant that reduces symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Varenicline is a newer prescription that was specifically developed to help people quit smoking. It works by interfering with nicotine receptors in the brain.
While some people find hypnosis useful, methods and results vary, making it hard to study as a way to quit smoking. Reviews have not shown good results, but it depends on the individual. Ask your doctor if he or she can recommend a good hypnotherapist.
Acupuncture or laser therapy
Acupuncture is sometimes tried as an alternative way to quit smoking, but there is little evidence to support that it works. Typically acupuncture will be performed on the ears for smoking cessation. Low-level laser therapy is similar to acupuncture. Instead of needles, cold lasers are used to relax the smoker and release endorphins to mimic the effects of nicotine.
A vaccine is not currently available for human use, but researchers are working on an antibody that gets rid of nicotine before it reaches the brain in mice, which could lead to a smoking vaccine against cigarette addiction.