Authored by Jon Mercer in Addiction
Published on 02-25-2009
Fewer than ten percent of those who try to quit smoking actually succeed. Research shows that most smokers try to quit multiple times before finally kicking the habit. Nearly one in five Americans are at least occasional smokers. Even the occasional smokers face a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, and a shortened life span, and smoking related illnesses cost the nation more than $193 billion annually.
Nicotine has a strong hold on the brain that is not easily broken. Even the most self-disciplined individuals can have a very hard time breaking the hold of cigarette addiction. For the majority of smokers who find it impossible to quit alone, researchers and pharmaceutical companies are developing new treatments that can help smokers finally kick the habit. New and better use of nicotine replacement therapies such as gum and patches are helping more and more people to quit smoking for good.
Recent analysis show that those who start the nicotine patch two weeks prior to quitting cigarettes more than double their chance of quitting permanently. Studies also show that those who use the nicotine gum before quitting also increase their chances of stopping for good.
Cigarettes become less enjoyable when smoking on the patch, much in the same way that eating is less satisfying when you’re not hungry. These therapies might work because they break the association between lighting up and getting the pleasure of nicotine.
The odds of quitting when smokers first start using a stop smoking preventative are six times greater than those who try to go it alone. There are also studies being conducted now which focus on treatments of gradually replacing nicotine with nicotine replacement devices. Although the full results are not in on these studies, it is an option that some doctors are recommending to their patients who smoke.
One study being conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is based on the mixture of nicotine replacement devices. Studies show that using the patch and the gum nearly doubles the odds of quitting smoking when compared to those who just use the patch alone or just use the gum alone. Smokers might use the patch to help curve baseline cravings, but chew a piece of gum when the urge intensifies.
Also there is Zyban, a smoking cessation medication that contains no nicotine at all. The pills were first marketed as an antidepressant, but unexpectedly, smokers using the pill reported that their cigarette cravings decreased significantly.