How successful are people who quit on their own?
Quitting on one's own may be hard, but it can be done. Many factors contribute to success. First, you must be very motivated to quit. Then you must have made a commitment to quit. To give up cigarettes "cold turkey" means to choose not to use any quit aids that help decrease withdrawal symptoms. Until recently, this was the only option for smokers. The advantage of this method is that the majority of nicotine is out of the body within a few days. Yes, the discomforts can be intense, but the length of time for withdrawal is short. Some smokers think that they do not need to use pharmacotherapy aids and they should just be able to quit by using willpower alone. Other smokers think cold turkey is too extreme. They want the medications to help them through the most difficult time. They choose to avoid the discomfort from the withdrawal symptoms. Studies have demonstrated that quitting on one's own without the benefits of any therapy results in a success rate of about 4% to 7%. The success rate can be increased to 10% by using over-the-counter (OTC) nicotine replacement therapies. The success rate after a year, using the cold turkey method of quitting is about 4%. At the end of the year, the people who used medications had a success rate equal to the ex-smokers who quit using the cold turkey method.
Can smoking cessation be done "one-on- one" with a counselor or health educator, or must it be in a group?
Many find that they are not "group" people and don't enjoy belonging to a group nor participate in any group interactions. For these people, an option is a one-on-one counselor who has a background of either a healthcare provider, healthcare educator, or someone who is skilled in conducting smoking cessation classes. The positive aspect of individual counseling is that individual concerns can be immediately addressed. The negative aspect of one-on-one counseling is that there is no added benefit from the support of a group, whose members are going through a similar ordeal and have many of the same thoughts and feelings. During group counseling sessions, people bounce their thoughts and feelings off each other. For many, the added knowledge of not thinking that he or she is "the only one in the world" going through the withdrawal symptoms is valuable.
The group setting was invaluable for me. I felt that nobody else but my fellow program members really knew what I was going through. Each session, I looked forward to seeing at least one other person still succeeding, as this built up my courage that I, too, could continue to cease smoking.
What are some of the medication aids, notably the nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), to smoking cessation ?
Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) are smoking cessation medicines that release small amounts of nicotine into the bloodstream to help counter cravings and reduce other physical withdrawal symptoms. NRTs are used to slowly wean the smoker off of nicotine. The NRT products contain nicotine, which is equally addictive, but the NRT medications deliver smaller amounts of nicotine than cigarettes and without many of the other harmful effects of tar and carbon monoxide found in cigarettes. Follow the package directions carefully. It is important to first check with your doctor or pharmacist about the interactions of NRT drugs with other drugs you may be taking. Also, check with them about any medical condition that one may have that may restrict the use of an NRT, such as severe cardiovascular disease.
There are currently five forms of nicotine replacement therapies available in the United States: (1) nicotine gum, (2) nicotine patch, (3) nicotine nasal spray, (4) nicotine inhaler, and (5) nicotine lozenge.