In the US, about 14 percent of the population smokes cigarettes. That equates to about 34 million people. And, more than 16 million people in the US live with a smoking-related illness.
While these statistics may seem alarming, it’s also important to know that 1.3 million people quit smoking each year. Can’t stop smoking but want to be a part of that group?
Check out this guide to learn about the top ways to quit tobacco for good.
1. Nicotine Replacement Therapy
One of the most effective ways to quit smoking is to undergo nicotine replacement therapy.
Nicotine is the chemical in cigarettes that makes them addictive. Nicotine replacement therapy works by providing your body with low levels of nicotine without feeding your body with all the other chemicals in tobacco smoke.
By providing your body with low levels of nicotine, you won’t be as susceptible to nicotine withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, insomnia, mood swings, intense cravings, and difficulty concentrating.
Nicotine replacement therapy is available through:
While inhalers, lozenges, gums, and sprays work quickly, their effects only last for a short amount of time. Therefore, it’s recommended that you use patch therapy for long-term effects and that you use the other options when you’re experiencing intense cravings.
You can buy nicotine patches from the pharmacy without a prescription. These patches slowly absorb into the body over an 8 to 12 week period through the skin. Some people wear these patches 24 hours per day, while others remove them during the night.
To choose the right patch for you, talk to your doctor.
2. Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral therapy involves working with a therapist to find different ways to stop smoking.
With a therapist, you’ll work to figure out what your triggers are (such as situations or emotions). Then you’ll learn ways to work through the triggers so you can manage cravings.
If you choose to hire a therapist, you should make sure you hire one who specializes in addiction therapy.
For many people, medication is the key to quitting smoking. There are two popular medications out there that have helped many people kick the habit: bupropion and varenicline.
Buproprion, for those who don’t know, is an antidepressant. It helps to reduce the dopamine shortfall that you experience when you withdraw from nicotine. Dopamine is important because it’s a chemical messenger that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.
Smoking raises the level of these feel-good chemicals in the body. Therefore, when smokers quit, they often experience anxiety and depression until their dopamine levels are naturally restored.
Many people feel that bupropion helps reduce symptoms of irritability and difficulty concentrating that are often linked to quitting smoking.
Varenicline is similar to bupropion in that it also helps with the nicotine shortfall. Specifically, it triggers the release of dopamine. It also helps block out the satisfying effects of nicotine, which is very useful in the event of a relapse.
While it may seem counterintuitive to smoke something else in order to quit smoking cigarettes, new research actually shows that e-cigarettes can help people quit. These cigarettes allow you to slowly reduce your intake of nicotine, similar to the way that nicotine replacement therapy works.
Plus, e-cigarettes mimic the same motions that smoking a cigarette does, which many people find helpful in the early days of quitting.
You can also check out this vaping guide to learn more about smoking e-cigarettes.
5. Supplementing with Vitamin B and C
Many studies show that smokers have low concentrations of B and C vitamins in their bodies.
If you’re looking to quit smoking, try and up your intake of B and C vitamins and see what happens.
The B vitamins are known as the anti-stress vitamins, and because smokers often cite stress as their incentive to light up, boosting your intake of B vitamins may help.
Vitamin C also contains powerful antioxidants that can help lower the levels of oxidative stress on the lungs caused by cigarettes.
6. Try a Mind-Body Practice
Mind-body practices such as tai chi, yoga, or meditation can help you quit smoking.
In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Addiction and Therapy found that practicing tai chi just three times per week can help smokers either kick the habit or reduce their urge to smoke.
Scientists believe that tai chi is helpful because it boosts your mindfulness and awareness, which is necessary for breaking the cycle of addiction.
If you’re not sure how to get started with tai chi, yoga, or meditation, don’t worry. There are plenty of resources available online for you to get started.
Last but not least, you can try exercise to quit smoking. The great thing about exercise is that it can distract you and keep you busy until the cravings pass.
Exercise has other benefits for smokers too, including:
- Exercise helps you cope with stress and it boosts your energy levels
- Exercise improves your mood
- Exercise helps you manage withdrawal symptoms and it can reduce your cravings
- Exercise can help decrease your appetite
And, the great news is that it doesn’t take a lot to reap the benefits of exercise as a smoker. Just 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week can make all the difference in your smoking habit.
Can’t Stop Smoking: Are Your Ready to Quit for Good?
There are a lot of things you can try if you can’t stop smoking. Now, all you need to do is pick one and you’ll be well on your way to living a smoke-free life.
And, be sure to check back in with our blog for more health-related tips.