How to Kick Your Smoking Habit

You’ve made the decision to quit smoking, but where do you go from here? There are dozens of ways to kick the habit, but not all are guaranteed to work. OCH psychologist Dr. Jason Glass takes the guesswork out and shares his evaluation of unsuccessful smoking cessation techniques and offers four solutions to help you quit for good.

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug and smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) around 70% of smokers indicate they are interested in quitting completely.  However, many smokers find the withdrawal and cravings difficult to contend with.  If you or your loved ones are interested in quitting for good, you might be wondering what are the best and most effective approaches for smoking cessation.  The U.S. Surgeon General created the report: Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update– Clinical Practice Guidelines and the research organization www. has reviewed studies on the most successful interventions for treating nicotine addiction.  Below is a summary of the more popular treatments for smoking cessation:

Treatments that do not have support

  • Cold Turkey:  Individuals who try to quit smoking on their own are up against significant odds.  According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2000) of individuals who try to quit without assistance, only 5% of them remain abstinent.  In other words, attempting to stop on your own may not be the best idea. 
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture is used by many individuals as an alternative to popular medicine.  Unfortunately, the available research does not support the efficacy of acupuncture as a successful treatment of nicotine dependence.
  • Hypnotherapy:  Many people will seek out therapists who provide hypnosis in order to quit smoking.  However, there is no evidence in the research that hypnosis helps people stop smoking.  Researchers at Cochrane attribute this finding to poor methodology used by researchers to assess this technique.
  • Aversive Smoking:  This is a behavioral technique that requires individuals to smoke more than they usually do (rapid smoking) which in turn usually makes the individual feel sick or opposite of what they feel with one cigarette.  The belief is that by “overdoing it” people will discontinue smoking.  This treatment has not received support in the literature.
  • Competitions and Incentives: The researchers at Cochrane studied literature that assessed the effectiveness of workplace competitions and other incentives on smoking cessation.  What they found is that in the short-term, financial incentives did have an effect on people abstaining from smoking.  However, when the money was no longer given the effect of the competition or incentive wore off and people went back to smoking. 

Treatments that do have support

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy:  One effective approach for quitting smoking is replacing the harmful delivery of nicotine through cigarettes to the safer delivery of nicotine through gum, patches and lozenges.  According to researchers at Cochrane, individuals who use nicotine replacement alone have a 50 to 70% chance of quitting rather than if they did not use any intervention. 
  • Buproprion (Zyban): This drug is an antidepressant and has been found to be useful for helping individuals deal with withdrawal, cravings, and suppressing an individual’s appetite as they are trying to quit smoking.  Zyban has support for being an effective intervention for smoking cessation.
  • Varenicline (Chantix):  Like Zyban, Chantix also helps with cravings and symptoms of withdrawal.  However, this medication is not an anti-depressant and works by blocking the effects of nicotine.  In other words, if a person smokes while taking this medication they will not experience the more pleasurable effects of nicotine. 
  • Combination of Therapy or Counseling and Medication: According to Cochrane and the U.S. Surgeon General’s report, the most effective approach for treating nicotine addiction is a combination of medication (nicotine replacement or prescription medications) and counseling.  Although behavioral therapy is also considered to be a promising treatment, it is not as successful as a combination of therapy and medication.  The therapeutic techniques that have been found successful involved support therapy, group therapy, stress reduction strategies and problem solving skills.

As you can see there are many methods for treating cigarette addiction.  If you are interested in quitting smoking, please consult with your physician about what might be the best treatment for you.

Jason R Glass, Psy.D. is a psychologist affiliated with Ozarks Community Hospital of Gravette and the OCH of Gravette Clinic.  Dr. Glass is a provisionally licensed psychologist in the state of Arkansas and is currently under the supervision of OCH licensed psychologist Mark W. Glover, Ph.D. Some of the psychological services provided through OCH include: adult psychotherapy for anxiety and depression; anger management training; dementia evaluation and consultation; probation and parole evaluation; parental fitness evaluation; and pre-surgical psychological evaluation and consultation.


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