Stop smoking is a process of discontinuing tobacco smoking. Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the developed world, and increasing the number of smokers successfully quitting is one of the most effective measures available to improve population health. Stop smoking isn’t easy but with the right tools and support quitting smoking is possible and will be one of the most rewarding achievements of your life.

Smoking is a practice in which a substance is burned and the resulting smoke breathed in to be tasted and absorbed into the bloodstream. Most commonly the substance is the dried leaves of the tobacco plant which contains nicotine, which is addictive, making the process of quitting often very prolonged and difficult.

Nicotine binds to nicotinic receptors in the brain that, in turn, cause an increase indopamine. Dopamine is the major chemical that stimulates reward centers in the brain. The brain recruits an opposing force to dampen the effects of nicotine and this causes tolerance (the reduction in the effect of nicotine). The onset of this opposing force and the fact that the brain becomes used to and dependent on nicotine to function normally is known as physical dependence. When nicotine intake is decreased, the brain's opposing force is now unopposed and this causes withdrawal symptoms.

Ways how stop smoking

  • Unassisted
Only 6% on average will successfully stop smoking their first try. Summoning up the willpower to make that decision permanent is key to succeeding in the long run.´

There is no significant difference in quit rates between smokers who quit by gradual reduction or abrupt cessation as measured by abstinence from smoking of at least six months from the quit day, suggesting that people who want to quit can choose between these two methods.

Gradual reduction involves slowly reducing one's daily intake of nicotine. This can theoretically be accomplished through repeated changes to cigarettes with lower levels of nicotine, by gradually reducing the number of cigarettes smoked each day, or by smoking only a fraction of a cigarette on each occasion.

  • Nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine replacement therapies including patches, lozenges, gum, inhalators, mouth spray, and mouth strips give your body some nicotine without all the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke. Nicotine replacement therapy should be used for at least 8 weeks.

  • Pharmacotherapy
Varenicline Tartate (Champix)- is a non-nicotine medication designed to block the nicotine receptors in the brain. People who want to quit will need to get a prescription from their doctor to use Champix. The treatment course is 12 weeks.
Bupropion (Zyban)- is a non-nicotine medication designed to work on the reward pathways in the brain to minimise nicotine withdrawal symptoms. People who want to quit will need to get a prescription from their doctor to use Zyban. The treatment course is 9 weeks.

  • Psychosocial approaches
Group or individual psychological support can help people who want to quit. This form of counselling can be effective alone; combining it with medication is more effective, and the number of sessions of support with medication correlates with effectiveness. The counselling styles that have been effective in smoking cessation activities include motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioural therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

People quit in different ways, so it is important to think about what way would suit you best. Some people prefer to cut down their smoking before quitting altogether. Others like to set a quit date and abruptly stop. Quit smoking medication and nicotine replacement therapy can be used to help you cut down and ease into quitting.

Most smokers desire to quit, but without assistance the success rate is very low.

The best way to prevent relapse to smoking is to be aware of your early warning signs and have a plan of action, and to avoid high-risk situations.

Many behavior changes such as avoiding situations where one usually smoked, planning ahead to deal with temptations, and seeking the support of friends and family are effective in helping people quit smoking. 

Cravings are easier to detain when one's environment does not provoke the habit. If a person who stopped smoking has close relationships with active smokers they are often put into situations that make the urge to conform more tempting. However, in a small group with at least one other not smoking, the likelihood of conformity decreases.

Relapse has been related to psychological issues such as low self-efficacy or non-optimal coping responses. Expectations and attitude are significant factors too. A self-perpetuating cycle occurs when a person feels bad for smoking yet smokes to alleviate feeling bad. Breaking that cycle can be a key in changing the sabotaging attitude.

Combining psychosocial and pharmacological treatments increases smoking cessation success rates. Research shows that using a quitting smoking medication or nicotine replacement therapy in conjunction with a quit smoking plan to tackle the habit and routine side of smoking more than doubles your chances of quitting successfully.

When your body does not receive the level of nicotine that it is relying on you can experience withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms can include

  • irritability
  • trouble concentrating
  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • low mood
  • trouble sleeping

The effects depend on the number of years that a person smokes and on how much the person smokes.

Quitting smoking is recommended for everyone.

When you quit smoking you will see benefits to yours health, your looks, your fitness and your finances too. You will feel better about yourself and improve the health of family and friends around you.

The health benefits of quitting smoking can be felt almost immediately, with easier breathing, a reduction in blood pressure and improved circulation. In addition to the well-known benefits of quitting such as a decreased cancer and cardiovascular disease risk, other long-term benefits include improved fertility, a younger-looking complexion, improved dental health, improved energy levels and immunity, lowered stress levels as you are no longer battling with the craving and withdrawal cycle and an improvement in your senses of smell and taste.

Quitting smoking at any stage during your pregnancy immediately reduces your risk of pregnancy complications and harm to your baby’s health.

The long-term benefits of quitting smoking are fantastic. According to the American Heart Association, non-smokers, on average, live 14 years longer than smokers.

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