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Science-Proven Ways to Help You Quit Smoking
Smoking brings on a number of health risks, but quitting the habit can prove exceedingly difficult. Therefore, a great deal of research has looked into helping people stop the unhealthy behavior.
Over time, researchers have found a number of techniques linked with better success in quitting smoking. However, quitting still remains an individual process — not all techniques work for everyone, and many people may come up with their own methods that work better for them.
"Different individuals will find different tricks that help them get through the day, get through the urge," said Glen Morgan, program director in the Behavioral Research Program at the Tobacco Control Research Branch of the National Cancer Institute.
Quitting smoking means ignoring both the cravings for nicotine and the pull of a habit that may have been in place for years.
To combat these forces, smokers should not only try the techniques researchers have developed, but also attempt those that smokers themselves have devised, including tips they say have helped them. As long as these suggestions aren't harmful, there's no reason not to try them, Morgan said.
Nicotine Replacement TherapySlide 2 of 21
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy can be used as a nicotine patch or nicotine gum, and the form a smoker opts to use is often an individual choice, Morgan said.
Some people may not like the taste of the gum, but find the patch convenient; others don't like the continuous delivery of the patch and instead prefer chewing the gum whenever they have the urge to reach for a cigarette. Some people may even combine the two, using the patch but also chewing gum when they have an intense urge, Morgan said.
Not everyone needs to use nicotine replacement therapy, but many find it helpful Morgan said. However, the therapy alone isn't usually going to help someone quit smoking, because "smoking is something that becomes interwoven with all the activities you do throughout the day," he said. Whether it's watching TV, driving or having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, a smoker's daily activities often involve cigarettes. [10 Easy Paths to Self Destruction]
"If they smoke in those circumstances, every day, 365 days a year, for 10 years, that's a lot of behavioral conditioning," he said.
"People need to do more than simply put a nicotine patch on their shoulder, or take a medication and expect that that is going to make them want to quit smoking or erase all desires for a cigarette," Morgan said. "It may blunt the cravings, but the medication will not eliminate" them.Slide 3 of 21
Set a quit dateSlide 4 of 21
Set a quit date
Experts recommend setting a quit date, rather than simply trying to stop out of the blue, because it gives you time to set up a plan, talk to supporters about that plan, get nicotine replacement products and prepare other suggestions on this list. That's much more effective than trying to pull it all together on a whim.
"It's like taking a test — you've got to study," Morgan said.Slide 5 of 21
Write down when you smokeSlide 6 of 21
Write down when you smoke
In cognitive therapy, people commonly write down the activities that trigger a habit. Individuals with a variety of habits they want to break, or feelings they hope to lessen often use this technique.
Noting the times when you smoke helps you figure out what activities you associate with smoking, and can help you alter these habits so they don't prompt you to smoke after you have quit.
When you figure out which situations are your strongest triggers, you can start developing strategies for those situations, Morgan said. For example, if you smoke when drinking coffee, you could switch to tea.
However, Morgan cautioned, smokers should not stop consuming caffeine entirely, because they may get headaches and mistake these symptoms for nicotine withdrawal.Slide 7 of 21
CounselingSlide 8 of 21