For years, the only way to stop smoking was to quit cold turkey and hope that willpower alone was enough to make the habit a thing of the past. Americans still promote this theory of quitting with events like the “Great American Smoke Out” which encourages smokers to stop for one day every November. Promoters of the event say that once a person realizes that they can make it through an entire day without a cigarette the concept of quitting smoking becomes easier to accept. Having done it for a day, they believe they can do it and some do, organizers say. But the reality is that today there are many alternatives for people who are seriously attempting to quit smoking.
One of the new methods of treatment for those attempting to quit smoking is nicotine gum. This process of quitting involves substituting a nicotine gum for cigarettes whenever the craving hits. The theory is that this allows smokers to deal with the physical withdrawal from the addictive nicotine and the oral stimulation once associated with smoking. The idea is that they can begin to wean themselves off the gum slowly as the cravings become less prevalent.
A similar theory is the driving one behind the nicotine patch. Unlike the gum which requires the smoker to actively recognize their craving and treat it with a piece of gum, the nicotine patch as a method of quitting delivers a regular stream of nicotine into the smoker’s system to help alleviate the cravings. People who use this system to quit smoking gradually reduce the strength of the nicotine patch until the cravings are gone and the physical addiction has subsided. An added part of the patch treatment is that most people experience mild nausea if they attempt to smoke while wearing the patch, creating a form of aversion therapy.
A third treatment gaining in popularity is hypnosis to quit smoking. Smokers pay for a two or three hour session, often a group session, with a hypnotherapist who implants a suggest in their minds creating an aversion to smoking. This treatment option deals with the mental addiction to the habit, but does nothing to combat the physiological aspects of cigarette addiction.
Drug therapy is also being used successfully to help some people quit smoking. Some anti-depressants have shown great success in combating smoking as have drugs designed to interact with the chemicals in cigarettes and make them less pleasing to smokers. The drug therapy usually is used in conjunction with another quitting method, nicotine gum or the patch, in an effort to deal with the physiological addiction as well.
Finally, also gaining prominence recently in the effort to get people to quit smoking is acupuncture and accupressure. Research indicates that trained therapists can use pressure points to release the addiction from the system and help former smokers get over their cravings for cigarettes. Unlike hypnotherapy which deals with the psychological addiction and not the physiological, this treatment is effective with people who want to quit smoking but not those who are unwilling to commit to stopping. The acupuncture treatment treats the physiological addiction, but does not address the psychological addiction.