Sunday, August 12, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
There are several methods you can employ to stop smoking. The main ones are behavioural therapy, hypnosis, drugs, nicotine replacement therapy, will power and 'alternative' methods. I will give a brief description of each approach along with its pros and cons.
Is cognitive behavioural therapy the best way top stop smoking?
Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most successful methods to help smokers stop with success rates well above 50%. This is not the same as the standard literature you find all over the place. It is not the 'set a stop date', 'write out a stop plan', 'stay in and avoid alcohol' etc. etc. That doesn't work.
Cognitive behavioural therapy breaks smoking down into twenty or so component parts and changes the way you think about smoking, component by component. The end result is that all the reasons you think you smoke for are destroyed and you lose the will to smoke.
It is not a magic bullet. It is just one particularly effective approach to stopping smoking that uses no drugs whatsoever and leaves smokers feeling liberated the moment they stop smoking, rather than being fraught with anxiety. It is cheap when compared to other systems (less than $50) and is normally sold with a no quibble money back guarantee.
Is hypnosis the best way to stop smoking?
Studies suggest that hypnosis is successful to the tune of 30% of smokers in single sessions. Using multiple sessions, success rates of 60% plus have been reported. There is some evidence that women struggle to stop as readily as men using hypnosis.
It works by changing a person's mental attitude toward smoking using powerful visualisation techniques. Hypnosis is similar to neuro-linguistic programming or NLP. Both use similar relaxation and meditation techniques to overcome cravings and nicotine withdrawal symptoms. It is far from suitable for everyone but it is non-chemical and there are no drugs to use.
Hypnosis products can be bought over the internet for around $50 but one to one sessions with hypnotherapists can be considerably more expensive, to the tune of several hundred dollars.
Are drug therapies the best way to stop smoking?
The pharmaceutical industry seems to think so! Zyban is found to work in about 16% of smokers and Chantix has been found to be about 22% effective. It is not 44% effective as claimed by Pfizer, its manufacturer.
Drug therapies are almost always used alongside counselling to help smokers achieve their aims of becoming non-smokers. Drug therapies can be provided by health authorities or may be included within medical insurance. They generally cost in excess of $300 to complete the courses if bought privately.
The downside to drug therapies aside from cost is that you may suffer from side effects which can be serious enough to stop you using the drug.
Another downside is that you do not get a money back guarantee with them, unlike my own book (which uses cognitive behavioural therapy) and most hypnosis products available on the internet.
Is nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) the best way to stop smoking?
Studies show that NRT can increase you chances of stopping smoking when compared to people trying to stop cold turkey taking it from around 5% to around 10%. It comes in the form of 'transdermal' patches, which deliver nicotine through the skin into the bloodstream. It also comes as gum or pills (lozenges and microtabs) or plastic cigarettes or nasal sprays.
Nicotine replacement therapies work on the assumption that smoking consists of nicotine 'addiction' and the 'habit' of smoking. Smokers are expected to overcome the 'habit' whilst still getting their nicotine hit from the NRT product and then they are expected to reduce their nicotine intake until they are free from cigarettes and nicotine all together.
The downside of NRT is its expense in relation to the success rate it achieves. It is just as expensive as smoking and can leave people still needing the nicotine in the form of gum or lozenges for many months or even years after stopping smoking. NRT is often used in conjunction with Zyban to enhance both NRT and Zyban effectiveness. This makes it twice as expensive of course!
Is willpower the best way to stop smoking?
Will power has a very low success rate and smokers generally need to make several attempts over several years before they successfully stop smoking. The benefits of the willpower method are that the long terms success rate is very high. Chantix, Zyban and NRT approaches to stopping smoking can be more effective in the short term, but in the longer term, willpower quitters stay off the smokes for good.
The financial benefit of this method is very good of course because it doesn't cost a penny! This is however a false economy because it takes so long to successfully stop, there are a lot of packs of cigarettes bought between attempts and the final, and successful quit.
Are alternative methods the best way to stop smoking?
Alternative methods include herbal remedies, acupuncture and laser treatments amongst many others. Anecdotally, these methods have been found to be successful but the scientific evidence is not available. TV programs showing how 'successful' each of these treatments can be rely on interviewing one or two individuals - hence the anecdotal support.
These methods are frequently expensive and rarely come with a money back guarantee. They are virtually all supported by counselling in the form of book, audio tapes or one to one sessions.
So what is the best way to stop smoking?
My advice is to start by accepting there is going to be a cost to stopping smoking. There is going to be a higher cost to continue smoking, not only in terms of cash, but most significantly in terms of health.
If you want to stop smoking be prepared to accept that you may need to try several methods before you find your very own best way to stop smoking. The one that works for you will not be 50% or 30% or 22% effective - the one that works for you will be 100% effective and that is what really matters.
Start by considering products that come with money back guarantees so you can try it and if you fail, you can get your money back. Then move onto the next system until you come to those solutions that do not have money back guarantees.
As ever, my advice to any smoker trying to stop is to never stop trying to stop. Fall down seven times, get up eight!
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
I found the following BBC Panorama investigation on the BBC's website. You will need Windows Media Player to view this:
Secrets of the Drug Trials
Nicotine Replacement Therapy, Zyban and Varenicline have all got flawed efficacy studies in my opinion. Think carefully before turning to these solutions.
As ever, never stop trying to quit smoking.
Monday, August 06, 2007
So what do I mean by 'making a proper decision'? Well, most smokers when they decide to give up smoking don't really resolve to give up smoking; they merely decide to hope to be able to give up smoking. There are many reasons for this but the most significant one I think is the emotional attachment to smoking.
Smokers think that they enjoy smoking despite the fact that to smoke, one must inhale hot toxic gas and particulates in order to enjoy it. Because smokers are so attached to smoking as an enjoyable pass time, it is difficult to resolve to give up smoking without seeing giving up smoking as a test of will or abstinence, resulting in anxiety about giving up.
This anxiety manifests itself in the smokers mind by making them nervous at the thought of spending the rest of their lives without their beloved cigarettes. After all, the average smoker hasn't enjoyed a cup of coffee, meal or alcoholic drink in the last few years without a trusty cigarette within arms reach.
If you decide to give up smoking you must resolve to give up smoking and not merely decide to 'give it another go'. And it probably will be just another go - research suggests that most smokers take 7 attempts over several years to kick the habit!
So how can you go about resolving to give up smoking? Well, firstly you must accept the rest of your life must be without cigarettes. This is an horrific proposition for most smokers because they enjoy smoking so much. But consider these facts;
Fact #1: We were all born as non-smokers. It was only after starting smoking that we became smokers and we didn't even chose to do that, we only chose to give smoking a try. (That is another story I cover in my book!)
Fact #2: 25% of the population of the United States have never smoked a cigarette and they seem to get on with life okay. These people have resolved never to smoke and they don't miss it one iota!
Fact #3: 25% of the population have tried smoking and just couldn't get into it - they don't smoke and they seem to manage just fine too.
Fact #4: 25% of the population used to smoke at one time or another for varying periods of time but they have now given up. They don't smoke and seem to get on with life fine too.
Finally, there is the 25% of people who currently smoke and who have not managed to resolve to give up smoking. Researching how to give up smoking is a good start and the first step on a journey to a smoke free life so by reading this article you are already headed in the right direction!
At least 75% of the population can and do live happily without cigarettes. What makes you so special? Go on, don't just decide to try and give up, resolve to give up smoking.
To finish, here is a quote from Marlene von Savant: "Being defeated is a temporary condition. Giving up makes it permanent." As ever, never give up trying to give up smoking.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Give up smoking benefit #1: When you smoke, the cocktail of hot gases and chemicals found in cigarette smoke damages your body. There are 4,000 of them in all! As a result, if you fall ill, you take longer to recover and/or heal. Giving up smoking will significantly improve your ability to fight disease.
Give up smoking benefit #2: Smoking causes damage to your mouth and gums. Smokers are more likely to suffer from 'acute necrotising and ulcerative gingivitis' (diseased gums) which increases the risk of tooth loss and gives you bad breath amongst other things. Urgh!
Give up smoking benefit #3: Smokers are 20 times more likely to suffer from angina than non-smokers.
Give up smoking benefit #4: Want to keep your eyesight? Smokers run twice the risk of developing cataracts when compared to non-smokers. Smokers are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and therefore diabetic retinopathy - the degeneration of the retina, leading to blindness. They are also twice as likely to suffer from macular degeneration of the eyes and amblyopia (loss of sight).
Give up smoking benefit #5: Hey stud! Men who smoke increase the risk suffering from erectile dysfunction, reduced ejaculate volume, reduced sperm counts and deformed, damaged or dead sperm. Basically, smoking is a good way to increase your chances of being impotent! Reduce your risks by giving up smoking as soon as possible.
Give up smoking benefit #6: Hey good looking! Smokers run twice the risk of suffering from psoriasis and skin wrinkling. Free radicals found in cigarette smoke damage skin tissues and reduce their elasticity more rapidly than non-smokers. This is why long-term smokers tend to look older and have a poorer complexion than non-smokers.
Give up smoking benefit #7: Cancer anyone? Smokers run an elevated risk of developing lung cancer. They also have a disproportionately high risk of developing throat, oesophageal, bladder, kidney, stomach, pancreatic, mouth and tongue and lip cancers!
Give up smoking benefit #8: 45% of all duodenum or stomach ulcers are found in smokers. Nicotine interacts with the parasympathetic nervous system (the automatic bit) and relaxes the stomach sphincters, allowing stomach acid excess into the oesophagus (heartburn) and the duodenum.
Give up smoking benefit #9: An aortic aneurism is the ballooning of the aorta which can result in it rupturing which leads to massive internal bleeding and quick, certain death. Smokers suffer 57% of all aortic aneurisms.
Give up smoking benefit #10: Stick around! Did you know that people who smoke between 1 and 14 cigarettes per day are 8 times more likely to die early when compared to non-smokers.. Smokers on 15 to 25 cigarettes per day are 13 times more likely to die early compared to non-smokers. Smokers who smoke over 25 cigarettes per day are 25 times more likely to die early!
Finally, there is a Japanese proverb that says "fall down seven times, get up eight". Giving up smoking is just like that too. You have to keep trying to give up. My advice as ever is never give up trying to give up.
The reason why cigarettes are so hard to stop smoking is because of nicotine addiction. Many smokers and healthcare professionals believe that smoking is a 'habit'. I can assure you and them that this is not the case. Biting your fingernails is a habit, smoking tobacco is the manifestation of an addiction to nicotine.
One of the common answers as to how to stop smoking cigarettes is to turn to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as nicotine patches or nicotine gum. This in my opinion is possibly the stupidest course of action to take. The reason I think this is because of what I have already said about addiction and habit. I also think it is stupid because any drug addiction treated with more of the same drug just seems silly.
When you are told how to stop smoking cigarettes using NRT, you are basically told you have to overcome the habit of smoking and then you have to overcome the addiction to nicotine. Stop smoking then stop using the patches.
What I can tell you is that there is no need to use the patches to try and overcome the 'habit'. There is no habit in smoking. It is all the result of addiction. The only reason you keep smoking is because you are addicted to nicotine. It has nothing to do with you needing to put a cigarette in your mouth. Children need soothers but adults do not!
Another common response smokers are given when they ask how to stop smoking cigarettes is to turn to a 'wonder' drug such as zyban or chantix.
Zyban and Chantix have respectively 16% and 22% success rates. (Chantix does not have the 44% Pfizer like to suggest it has by the way.) The problem with both Zyban and Chantix is that they break the physical addiction to smoking. They stop nicotine working somehow (and by the way, the doctors don't know how!) but they don't change your emotional attachment to smoking.
Without dealing with both your physical and mental addiction to nicotine, you are highly likely to fall back into smoking once your prescriptions for zyban or chantix run out.
The other problems with these drugs are the side effects. There is the nausea, the chances of seizure and a whole host of others. I cover those in more detail in other articles on my blog.
So what is the answer as to how to stop smoking cigarettes? Well, in my humble opinion, it is achieved through adjusting your mental attitude towards smoking. It is achieved through understanding your enemy. In short, understand nicotine and how it has changed the way your body operates. One way this can be achieved easily and quickly with an open mind and a fresh look at smoking through an approach known as cognitive behavioural therapy.
Cognitive behavioural therapy works by looking at smoking in a different way. The relationship you have with cigarettes is often based on a series of misconceptions. It breaks your relationship with tobacco down into bite-sized chunks and deals with each misconception individually. It may seem hard to believe but just because you think you have a handle on smoking, doesn't necessarily mean you actually have!
People who use cognitive behavioural therapy to stop smoking often report 'seeing the light' or having an 'epiphany' about smoking when they complete the course. More often than not, they know they will never start smoking again after they have given up because the whole smoking relationship has been blown to pieces.
Finally, there are many ways to stop smoking and it is important that you find the one that works for you, so as ever, my most important piece of advice to any would-be quitter is, never stop trying to stop smoking.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
When I was a smoker, I was determined to find that one best give up smoking tip. I always thought that there was one that I could rely on and use to make me give up smoking. You see, smoking is incredibly difficult to give up until you have found your own solution, i.e. the best give up smoking tip ever for you. When you have found that, it becomes easy to give up smoking.
So what is the best give up smoking tip ever then I hear you say. Well, the bad news for you is that I don't know. It's not that I don't know a whole heap of give up smoking tips, it's just that I don't know which is the best give up smoking tip for you personally.
Let me clarify. When I gave up smoking, one thing that really changed things for me was the realisation that I could actually enjoy life without cigarettes. For me that was the best give up smoking tip ever, but it wasn't the only one and on its own it wasn't that powerful. There were a whole raft of things I had to understand before I could happily give up the smokes. Now this is a strange analogy but stick with me. It is a bit like the Whitehouse, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC.
The Whitehouse is a magnificent building, but it is a magnificent building because it appears to be greater than the sum of its parts. Its parts add up to 'x' but the whole thing put together is worth 'x' plus a whole lot more.
The Whitehouse wouldn't look very good with just the huge entrance and no building. The building itself wouldn't look very impressive without that portico. The lamp under the portico wouldn't look good without the portico and the portico wouldn't look as good without the lamp. The gardens wouldn't be set off as well as they are without the house and the house wouldn't look as magnificent if it didn't have the gardens.
Do you see what I mean? One thing in itself may not be that impressive but when contrasted or complimented with something else or a number of other things, it becomes greater than it really is. It is always possible for something to be greater than the sum of its parts.
There are lists and lists of give up smoking tips available. I have two articles that I did just recently available at the following locations:
Quit Smoking Tips - 10 of the best and Quit smoking Tips - 10 more pearls of wisdom!
You can read them and others all over the internet, but they tend to follow different ideas about smoking and how you can overcome its grip on your life. If you read give up smoking tips all day long you could easily get no nearer finding a simple way to give up smoking without the anguish and stress and normal need for willpower.
So if you are really keen to give up smoking, I suppose the best give up smoking tip I can tell you is this. You are killing yourself. You know that but it doesn't make it any easier to give up smoking. You need to find a solution, so keep looking. They do exist but it may be different for you than it was for me. Lots of people succeed with cognitive behavioural therapy, others with hypnotherapy and others with drugs, although I take a pretty dim view on drugs to help you give up! See this article: http://quit-smoking-motivator.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html
For me, it was cognitive behavioural therapy. That sounds serious and scary but it's not. It is a set of instructions to change the way you think about your relationship with cigarettes. Once I understood why I smoked, it was really easy for me to give up. As they say in the military, "know your enemy!"
My final piece of advice that I suppose is the other 'best give up smoking tip' that I can think of is always, never give up trying to give up smoking.