Smoking Cessation Treatment

Tobacco use can lead to nicotine dependence and serious health problems. Cessation can drastically reduce the risk of pain and anguish from smoking-related diseases. Tobacco dependence is a habitual condition that often requires repeated interventions, but effective treatments and helpful resources exist.  The truth is that smokers can and do quit smoking more frequently than ever before.

Nicotine Dependence

  • Nicotine is the psychoactive drug in tobacco products that produces dependence. Most smokers are dependent on nicotine.
  • Nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States. Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.
  • Quitting smoking is challenging and may necessitate several attempts. Users often relapse because of stress, weight gain, and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Examples of nicotine withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and increased appetite.

Health Benefits of Cessation

Breaking free from nicotine dependence is not the only reason to quit smoking. Cigarette smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals; hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer.  Cigarette smoke can cause serious health problems, numerous diseases, and death. Even though the health benefits are greater for people who stop at earlier ages, cessation is beneficial at all ages.

Smoking cessation is associated with the following health benefits:

  • Lessens the probability for lung and other types of cancer
  • Reduces the risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease
    • Coronary heart disease risk is substantially reduced within 1 to 2 years of cessation.
  • Reduces respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath
    • The rate of decline in lung function is slower among persons who quit smoking.
  • Reduces the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
  • Reduces the risk for infertility in women
    • Women who stop smoking during pregnancy also reduce their risk of having a low birth weight baby.

Methods to Quit Smoking

The majority of cigarette smokers quit without using  evidence based practices or resources. The likelihood of relapsing without a thorough plan, supportive community and healthy activities to address craving  and replace unhealthy patterns of behavior is more likely.

In my experience motivation and willpower alone may not be enough to effectively address and resolve dependence on nicotine products, because nicotine causes physiological dependence, similar to alcohol and other substances. I have been successful treating this dependence with clients by assisting them in planning for their “quit date” and providing them with a variety of options and coping skills to guide them through this significant challenge. Some of these techniques include a comprehensive assessment and smoking history to evaluate the current triggers associated with their current smoking habits. This plan would include individual and/or telephone counseling, cognitive behavior therapies and relaxation techniques, as well as recommendations for exercise, and nutritional changes. In addition, the use of acupuncture and or hypnosis has been found  beneficial for nicotine cessation. In most situations referral to the clients primary care physician to discuss nicotine replacement products and other effective therapies is recommended. There are several over the counter and prescription products available to address withdrawal symptoms. The combination of medication and counseling is more effective for smoking cessation than either medication or counseling alone.

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