Success rates when it comes to quitting smoking are hard to gauge, given the way in which the process works differently for every individual. For some people, it’s as easy as making the decision to stop and never again touching a cigarette, with absolutely no help and very few cravings. For others, all the pills and patches on the market don’t quite compare with the potential benefits of one-on-one therapy – some even go so far as to put their faith in hypnosis.
Exactly what does and does not work can be affected by things like the age of the individual, their lifestyle, overall health, history of smoking habits and so on. Which is precisely why is it is a good idea to speak with a medical professional before getting started, who can help evaluate the specific circumstances of the individual in question and guide them in the right direction.
Though not always considered necessary, prescription medication has been extensively proven as able to improve a person’s respective likelihood of quitting smoking by up to 50%. This takes into account all the usual OTC chewing gums, nicotine patches, pills and so on – prescription treatment for quitting smoking showing effectiveness on an entirely higher level.
As it stands, the only prescription medication currently available for the purpose of quitting smoking is Champix. This simple, safe and easy to use medication is prescribed for use of a 12-week period, in order to effectively minimise nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. When the course is continued for a further 12 weeks, the likelihood of successfully quitting for life increases to an incredible 70% overall.
One of the most recent studies into the subject found that a combination of Champix and behavioural support emerged as the single most effective approach to quitting smoking, above and beyond all alternative options.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
The single most common alternative to prescription treatment is referred to under the wider umbrella of nicotine replacement therapy, or NRT. This is essentially an approach that utilises the same addictive substance found in cigarettes, but administers it in a controlled manner that is somewhat safer and geared toward gradual reduction. Despite the popularity and widespread availability of NRT products, clinical trials have brought about mixed conclusions in terms of effectiveness.
As such products can be picked up relatively easily and for comparatively low prices, so their popularity is easily understood. However, the primary downside of NRT is that along with generally poor initial success rates, those using NRT have a statistically high a likelihood of relapse. In fact, approximately 83% of those using NRT for the first time fail in their initial attempt to quit smoking.
The effectiveness of NRT can however be slightly improved, when combined with professional counselling.
The biggest problem with electronic cigarettes is the way in which they are so new that we still have very little idea as to their potential long-term health implications. They may be generally considered to be a safer alternative to traditional tobacco smoking, but insufficient time has passed to determine whether they present their own unique dangers.
In any case, while electronic cigarettes are often turned to as smoking cessation tools, they don’t necessarily work wonders for those looking to beat nicotine addiction. The reason being that while ‘vaping’ eliminates many of the most harmful agents found in tobacco, it still contains highly addictive nicotine. Not only this, but the fact that it is so much easier and more convenient to use electronic cigarettes (particularly in public places) often means that those using them end up doing so much more frequently and habitually than they would normal cigarettes.
The Bottom Line
Once again highlighting the initial and most important point of all, understanding that everyone reacts differently to tobacco withdrawal represents the key to quitting successfully. What proves to be an easy, fast and painless process for some can represent an extraordinary challenge for others. And as there are so many factors to take into consideration when it comes to determining the most effective approach, it is of crucial importance to speak to a medical professional before embarking on this kind of journey.
Prescription medication may have proven to be uniquely effective, but this doesn’t mean it is always 100% necessary. This is something that must be determined by you yourself in conjunction with your doctor, who will be able to prescribe the required medication if necessary.
In any case, with so many alternative approaches, treatments and alternative options available, there’s really no such thing as running out of avenues to explore, with the ultimate aim of quitting smoking for life.
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