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Smoking Cessation
Smoking
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A Guide to Smoking-Cessation Options
Choices range from drugs to nasal sprays to acupuncture

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 3, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People who want to quit smoking cigarettes no longer have to suffer through cold-turkey withdrawal.

A number of options now exist, and though most have some side effects, experts generally believe that the benefits of quitting smoking far exceed the risks posed by side effects. Current options include:

Nicotine replacement therapy

A variety of nicotine replacement products have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They include the nicotine patch, gum, inhaler, lozenges and nasal spray, according to Hilary Tindle, director of the Tobacco Treatment Service at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Patches, gum and lozenges do not require a prescription. A doctor's prescription is necessary for nasal spray or the inhaler, according to the American Cancer Society.

Medications

Two medications can help smokers quit. One is bupropion (marketed as an antidepressant under the brand name Wellbutrin and as a quit-smoking aid under the brand name Zyban); the other is varenicline (Chantix). Tindle said that bupropion can be used in combination with nicotine replacement therapy, but that varenicline generally should not be, though she said there are rare exceptions to that rule. "Both varenicline and bupropion are effective," she said.

"Chantix has warnings for rare psychiatric side effects, but it's a very effective and wonderful drug that helps a lot of people quit smoking," said Dr. Gordon Strauss, a psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and founder of QuitGroups, a free smoking cessation service.

Alternative treatments

Alternative treatments also are available to help people quit smoking, including hypnosis and acupuncture. Tindle said there haven't been large trials on hypnosis or acupuncture so they're not included in national guidelines. But, she said that if the only downside to a treatment is the cost or the time involved, and someone really wants to try an alternative treatment, she doesn't discourage their use.

Social support

"The importance of social support has been minimized, but there are a lot of resources out there, like state quit lines," Strauss said. "It's a very important component of quitting."

Consider, for instance, 1-800-QuitNow, which connects you to your state quit line and guarantees five phone calls from a counselor to help you quit. Tindle said that people who called this number and took nicotine replacement therapy doubled their chances of successfully quitting smoking.

Electronic cigarettes

Although smoking cessation experts have yet to give e-cigarettes the green light, many consumers are already using them to become smoke-free. The devices use heat to turn nicotine and other chemicals into a vapor that's inhaled, much like smoking a cigarette. Most even look like a tobacco cigarette.

"E-cigarettes have been such a blessing in my life," said Elizabeth Phillips, a Philadelphia resident and former smoker. "I tried patches, gums and pills, and nothing worked. E-cigarettes combined with perseverance and the desire to quit helped me quit."

The bottom line?

Tindle and Strauss both emphasized that people shouldn't be discouraged if their first quit attempt isn't successful. For most people, it takes more than one try.

"Set a quit date, and realize that failure is part of the process," Strauss said. "Some people take up to 10 times to quit. Dieters know that when they're losing weight, it will take time. One day you may have a piece of apple pie, but the next day you start again. Relapses happen; be easy on yourself."

And as Tindle said, "Remember, no matter what your age, you'll benefit from quitting."

More information

To learn more about electronic cigarettes, read this HealthDay story.

SOURCES: Hilary Tindle, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and director, Tobacco Treatment Service, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh; Gordon Strauss, M.D., psychiatrist, Lenox Hill Hospital, and founder, QuitGroups, New York City; Elizabeth Phillips, Philadelphia

Health News Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=680567

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
Smoking
Therapeutics
Nicotine
Bupropion
Smoking Cessation
Psychiatry
The list of medical terms above are retrieved automatically from the article.

Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
Be advised that HealthDay articles are derived from various sources and may not reflect your own country regulations. The Health On the Net Foundation does not endorse opinions, products, or services that may appear in HealthDay articles.


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