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What Works: Finding the "Right" Approach

The following is an Editorial Resource from YourTotalHealth.

Reviewed by: Timothy Yarboro, MD

Quit Smoking MedicationsThe Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco has characterized the most effective methods to quit smoking:

  • See your doctor. Working with your doctor greatly increases your chances of success.

  • Telephone counseling. These free 800 numbers, which provide access to counseling and quitting resources, have been shown to increase quit rates.

  • Behavioral support. Multiple sessions of individual or group counseling aids smoking cessation.

  • Nicotine replacement therapies and non-nicotine medications. According to the American Cancer Society, using either of these tools can double your chances of quitting.

Getting help

The best place to start is with your doctor. Even a short counseling session with a healthcare professional improves your odds of quitting, according to the National Cancer Institute. Your doctor can:

  • Review the benefits of quitting
  • Help you set a date for quitting, and decide on other steps
  • Provide self-help materials
  • Give advice on coping strategies
  • Prescribe medications
  • Offer referrals and schedule follow-up visits.

A successful plan involves more than medication. A prescription should be supplemented with methods that address behavioral and emotional issues, according to the American Cancer Society.

For example, you may want to work with a therapist who can provide support such as relaxation training, coping skills training, group therapy, family counseling, aversion therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Some programs specialize in helping smokers quit. The American Cancer Society says a stop-smoking program should last a minimum of two weeks with at least four to seven sessions of 20 minutes or longer. Exercise and stress reduction techniques such as yoga, tai chi, walking and bicycling may also help.

Joining a support group is another positive step. You can attend one in person or try Internet message boards and chat rooms. Many communities have chapters of Nicotine Anonymous. A little encouragement from someone who knows what you're Quit Smoking: Exercise Helpsgoing through goes a long way. Telephone help lines, which connect you to a professional quit-smoking counselor for free, are enormously helpful.

What about alternative therapies? There's hypnosis, acupuncture, acupressure, electrical stimulation and even laser beams. Though you may know someone who swears by these approaches, there is little evidence that these kinds of treatments are effective tools in smoking cessation, according to the National Cancer Institute. Some may even be dangerous: The American Cancer Society cautions against homeopathic aids and herbal supplements, which are unproven and are not reviewed by the FDA for safety.

Winning combinations

Your doctor may recommend a combination of approaches, such as a stop-smoking program, family support, a support group, relaxation training and medication.

Indeed, the American Academy of Family Physicians says smokers have the best shot at quitting if they:

  1. Get ready
  2. Get support
  3. Control stress and cravings
  4. Use medication
  5. Are prepared for relapse and keep trying

Nicotine may be a powerful addictive substance, but millions and millions of people have beaten it decisively. Fortunately, there's plenty of help.

What's Next: Medications to Quit By


Review Date: January 16, 2008


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