If you’re a smoker and are trying to kick this addictive habit, you will know that it can be an extremely difficult decision to stick to.
Many experts attribute the difficulty to the fact that almost all tobacco products are addictive - that means that one needs an extra effort to quit the addiction.
According to WebMD, an online health information portal, nicotine changes your brain chemistry to make you crave it more. It also makes you feel unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal when you don’t get the amount your body’s used to.
While some people find quitting smoking easy and can go cold turkey, others need some help.
As an alternative, some people believe that nicotine replacement therapies can ease things and make quitting easier.
Most replacement options in South Africa don’t need a doctor’s prescription.
The Cancer Association of SA (CANSA) offers the following steps to help you stop smoking:
For starters, decide on a date to quit smoking and stick to it.
Throw away all reminders of smoking, such as cigarette packets, ashtrays and lighters.
Avoid smokers and triggers that may tempt you. Once you have started, the first two to three days are the most difficult. It usually becomes easier with time.
Different alternatives that can help you when trying to stop smoking:
There’s no doubt that the use of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, is gaining momentum in South Africa and it’s becoming a trend.
These cigarettes do not contain tobacco, but most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, water, glycerol or propylene glycol and flavours.
However, there is still controversy and a debate whether these vapour-containing devices should be used in smoke-free zones, as their safety is still questioned.
You apply the patch when you wake up and wear it all day. They gradually release nicotine, which is absorbed through the skin without producing the sudden peaks in nicotine levels that occur with smoking.
Many experts believe that using a nicotine patch can help reduce withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings, irritability, anxiety and depression, while trying to quit .
They come in different strengths, from a high dose to a weaker dose, and you can adjust the dose according to your recovery process.
Tobacco cessation experts recommend using a full-strength patch, which is 15-22mg nicotine daily in the initial few weeks or months and then gradually taper off with weaker patches of about 10-15mg, followed by 5mg.
Nicotine chewing gum:
This is a type of chewing gum that delivers nicotine to the body by delivering the nicotine to the bloodstream via absorption by the tissues of the mouth. This type can be used “on demand”, whenever you experience a nicotine craving and feel like smoking. You can also choose from various flavours, such as fruit and mint. It’s available in 2mg and 4mg strengths.
Use eight to 12 gums per day for eight weeks or more, with a maximum of 20 per day.
If you chew the gum too much, though, you may swallow some of the nicotine, which needs to be absorbed by the lining of your mouth.
Herbal cigarettes don’t contain tobacco and therefore have no nicotine. They are filled with herbs or flowers and come in varieties like menthol, ginseng or rum. Some studies show that they are just as harmful as cigarettes, as they release toxins when burnt.
Other types of these herbal cigarettes are “bidis” and clove cigarettes. As these do contain tobacco and are generally unfiltered, they may contain more nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide.
WebMD defines hypnosis as an altered state of awareness in which you appear to be asleep or in a trance. Some studies have shown that hypnosis may help certain people quit smoking. While it lessens one’s desire for cigarettes, some argue that it helps you stay focused better.