Q: I’ve been smoking for 30 years. What are my best options to quit?
A: There are two types of smoking cessation strategies: behavioral therapies and drug therapies. Either therapy has proven to be effective in helping smokers quit, but a combination of the two increases your success rate.
Motivational interviewing is a goal-oriented style of communication between you and your physician. It focuses on your personal reasons for change.
Individual therapy is usually cognitive-behavioral therapy with a trained psychologist. This requires multiple, longer sessions.
Telephone therapy can be accomplished by calling a hotline that specializes in helping you create a strategy to quit smoking. The hotline also can provide support, when needed.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) includes five types of prescription or over-the-counter medications.
Nicotine patches, nicotine gum and nicotine lozenges are available without a prescription. Nicotine nasal spray and a nicotine inhaler require a prescription.
If you choose NRT, a combination of two types, such as nicotine patches and nicotine lozenges, is more effective.
Bupropion (Wellbutrin) is an antidepressant that decreases your desire to smoke and decreases cravings. You do not have to be depressed to take this medication.
Varenicline (Chantix) is a drug that works directly on nicotine receptors to decrease the desire and cravings to smoke.
Of course, your desire to quit smoking is the best way to predict success. Talk to your healthcare provider about each therapy and its potential side effects.
Benefits of quitting
Congratulations on making the decision to quit smoking. The benefits of quitting begin immediately and last for decades.
You will see improvements in your circulation and lung function in just a few weeks.
In the long term, your risk of lung cancer drops by 50 percent in 10 years, and the chance of dying from cardiovascular disease decreases by two-thirds just three years after quitting.
You can expect to experience both physical and psychological withdrawal when you quit smoking.
Physical symptoms include irritability, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, restlessness and insomnia. The psychological cravings for nicotine can last months.
The most challenging change might be the behavioral aspect of smoking. You need to replace it with a regular activity to improve your chances of quitting smoking.
Overall, quitting smoking or any tobacco product prevents many medical problems and improves your quality of life.
This addiction is one of the toughest to beat, but with persistence, a good health plan and motivation, you can do it.
William E. Kyle, D.O., sees adult patients at Memorial Health University Physicians – Legacy Center in Okatie.