NRT is an aid to be used during the first days, weeks and months of quitting as it supplies small doses of nicotine to wean you from the habit and poison, and assists in relieving the cravings and withdrawal symptoms. NRT is available as patches, nicotine gum and oral inhalers or sprays. One should be realistic – smoking is almost as difficult to quit as heroin addiction. I bought no less than five courses of nicotine spray before I succeeded in quitting. In fact the pharmacist was getting suspicious that I might be addicted to the spray! I succeeded with the fifth course in 6 months and carried the spray with me like a packet of cigarettes for months, just in case the temptation to start smoking again became overwhelming.
Remember that on its own, NRT is not sufficient. You should first of all be totally committed, and also follow the practical ideas and tips described above. Pregnant women and patients with cardiovascular disease should consult a health professional before they commence NRT therapy. You should not smoke and use NRT simultaneously. You will end up more addicted with a lot more nicotine in your blood and find it even harder to quit.
ALLOPATHIC MEDICATION ZYBAN
The drug Zyban, with the active ingredient bupropion, is sometimes prescribed by doctors to assist patients who are trying to quit smoking. It was designed as an antidepressant and one of its positive side-effects is that it suppresses the urge to smoke. Many patients continue smoking for a while subsequent to Zyban therapy but report that they just don’t get the ‘kick’ or ‘rush’ of the nicotine any more after two or three weeks. They then perceive smoking for what it really is – a senseless, expensive, malodorous, unhealthy habit – and as they don’t get the rush anymore, they quit. How Zyban exactly assists in relief of nicotine dependence is largely a mystery, and it is not effective for all people. Only 35% of all smokers on Zyban were found to still be non-smokers after a year.1 Zyban is a prescription drug with the usual side-effects.
THE BENEFITS OF QUITTING
Quitting smoking is difficult but studies2 show that if you can tough it out for 2 years, the chances are good that you will never light up again. After 2 years you only have a 2 to 4% chance of relapse, so keep going!
- Just 20 minutes after your last cigarette your blood pressure and heart rate return to normal, and after only 24 hours your risk of having a heart attack diminishes. The health benefits of quitting smoking are countless and are really worth the trouble of giving it up.
- Fifteen years after the last puff your risk of heart disease and cancer is almost the same as that of a person who has never smoked.
- You and your environment will smell much better – you will be a better kisser and therefore a better lover… do you need any additional motivation?
On average, most people try to quit between 5 and 7 times before they finally succeed. Some people are superior beings (from a galaxy far away) and succeed in quitting on their first or second attempt. For the remainder of us ordinary earthlings this is not the end of the road. Forgive yourself, arm yourself with new knowledge and commitment, and start all over again. You need only pick yourself up one more time than you fall in order to succeed.
1. MIMS. July 2005, volume 45, number 7: 389.
2. Ricochi & Alliveti Nicotine and Tobacco Research. March ed, 2006: 2331-2337.
Editor's note: Our readers have found acupuncture helpful as well as the remedy Vicebreaker. Don't forget to supplement with antioxidants (including vitamin E that smoking depletes) to reduce the free radical load, as well as extra vitamin C.