Smoking is estimated to the most commonly preventable cause of death in the US. Stoppage of smoking leads to immediate benefit of health. For younger smokers quitting smoking leads to having normal life expectancy whereas for older people quality of life is improved along with along with addition of years to life.It is reported that the risk of several diseases drop immediately following giving up smoking. The risk of heart attack becomes 50% less in the first year of quitting smoking, in the second and third years of quitting smoking the risk of suffering from stroke becomes comparable to a non smoker and tenth year of smoking quitting the risk of suffering from cancer becomes half. There are several treatment options which help a smoker to give up smoking successfully. These options are usually the most helpful when used in combination.
The treatment options are
1. Drugs: these drugs include nicotine replacement therapy and non nicotine drugs. Both of these treatment options are approved by the FDA, USA. Pregnant, breastfeeding women, smokers less than 18 years etc should consult doctors before choosing the appropriate drugs,
A. Nicotine replacement therapy: in nicotine replacement therapy nicotine is advised to relieve the bothersome withdrawal symptoms. Unlike common belief nicotine does not cause cancer. Nicotine supplements are given via various forms like nicotine patches, chewing gums, spray,inhalers etc.
1.Nicotine patches are applied on the skin so that nicotine is delivered to the blood stream. The patch is replaced every day with a new one. The total duration of nicotine patch treatment is 8 weeks, if craving or the symptoms is not relieved despite treatment for two weeks or more doctor should be consulted regarding the dose of the nicotine in the patch or use of other addition al drugs.
2.Nicotine chewing gums: these gums release nicotine in the oral cavity which enters the blood stream through the linings of the mouth. Drinking and eating should be avoided immediately after chewing the gums
3.Nicotine lozenges act in the same way as the nicotine gums by releasing nicotine in the mouth and then reaching the blood stream
4.Nicotine nasal spray and inhalers: these are prescription drugs which when sprayed or inhaled through the nostrils gets absorbed through the mucosal lining of the nose into the blood stream.
B. Non nicotine drugs: there are some drugs approved for use in nicotine dependence. These are
1.Bupropion: this antidepressant drug raises the level of dopamine in the brain just like the nicotine and relieves the withdrawal symptoms. This drug is often prescribed along with nicotine patch. Bupropion also helps to lower the weight gain following quitting smoking. people with past history of seizure or severe degree of head injury should avoid this drug.
2.Varenicline: this drug binds with nicotine receptor and thus relieves the withdrawal symptoms and also reduces the pleasant effects experienced with nicotine use.
3.Nortriptyline: this antidepressant helps in nicotine withdrawal by lowering noradrenalin level in the brain
2. Counseling: often drugs are combined with counseling to get maximum benefit. Counseling options are
a. Telephone counseling
b. Group counseling
c. Individual counseling
d. Internet counseling
Use of certain products may help the person to avoid smoking, although scientific evidences regarding the usefulness of these products are not very strong. These products include certain herbs, supplements, nicotine lollipops, balms, hypnosis, electronic cigarettes etc.
Certain tips are helpful to refrain from smoking, these are
1. Motivating oneself all the time
2. Do not be discouraged if slip occurs
3. Identifying individual triggering factors for smoking and the challenges to remain tobacco free
4. Seek support whenever necessary
5. Practicing self talk
6. Regularly evaluating the benefits achieved from quitting smoking
7. Avoiding alcohol
Measures to prevent nicotine dependence
The best measure to prevent nicotine dependence is complete avoidance of smoking and other tobacco containing products.
As a parent or responsible citizen certain measures can be taken; these are
1) Promotion of smoke fee environments
2) Supporting laws which increases taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco containing products
3) Talking to teenagers regarding their ideas on smoking
4) Taking part in different community services which promote avoiding tobacco