Stop-Smoking Drugs - Are They For You?

Patient Expert

Today, we have many different drugs and tools available to us that are designed to help us quit smoking. But do they really work? And are they safe?

When I was struggling over those many years to become an ex-smoker, I kept trying the newest thing on the market. Each time I would hope that I had finally found the magic bullet. I tried nicotine gum, the patch, the nicotrol inhaler, and Zyban. I tried every trick I read about and made up quite a few of my own.

And each time I would be successful for a while - it would even start to seem as though I would be able to stick with it. The cravings were certainly more manageable when I used the various nicotine replacement therapies.

But eventually I would always relapse. Then I would have to decide if I wanted to try quitting again using the same method that had just failed me or try something new.

What I finally learned about myself was that having even a tiny bit of nicotine in my system could trigger cravings. If my emotional state got slightly out of whack, the small rush of nicotine from whatever drug I was on would make me crave the full rush that only a cigarette could provide.

I also worried about the effects of continuous low-dose nicotine running through my system. I knew that it raised my heart rate and that was not good. Of course, smoking was so much worse, so in comparison it seemed worth it.

I've read that the newest options don't even involve nicotine, and that sounds like a good thing. But we're still replacing one crutch for another. And if drugs like Chantix are so new that side effects aren't even fully understood yet, are we possibly taking on more risk?

Ultimately, I decided that I wanted my body to be as clean as possible during this process of rediscovery. Because that is what quitting smoking is really about - we have to rediscover how to deal with life on life's terms instead of running to the crutch we had relied upon for so long. Once we quit, we begin to feel our raw emotions without the haze of cigarette smoke clouding our senses.

I found that for me going cold turkey was the only way to go. In order to survive the emotional roller coaster of quitting, I was better off with a completely clean system. I could think more clearly and feel things more fully and I knew that I was getting stronger every day.

Once I got myself clean, I was able to build upon my new identity as a healthy person who makes smart choices. I was able to stop the incessant relapses and start to string my smoke-free days into years.

I suppose each of us has to find our own path, but it seems that every successful quitter I know finally did it by going cold turkey. They had often tried various drugs and other tools but eventually found them to be temporary saviors. True salvation always seemed to come from within.

Many of us discover that we can be more successful if we don't medicate our way through the quitting process. How wonderful when we find that we had it in us all along