May 122014

An experienced Dublin/Wicklow based Stop Smoking Specialist evaluates a few of the most popular methods people use to quit cigarettes and other forms of smoking. This article looks at one of the most popular and certainly one of the most heavily advertised approach – Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine Replacement Therapy or NRT is based on the “Weaning Off” principle developed in other addiction therapy approaches. The idea is to supply Nicotine, the so called “addictive element” in cigarettes in a safer way without the many chemicals associated with burning tobacco. Once the transition has taken place the user is then weaned slowly off the nicotine.
An article in Science Daily in February 2010 pointed out that studies funded by the manufacturers of these products tend to show better results than studies carried out independently. The same article notes that studies by independent investigators rarely result in favourable recommendations for NRT.
The February 2010 article also reported that an overemphasis on quit methods such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has led to an unnecessary “medicalization” of smoking cessation, when there is good evidence that the most successful method used by most ex-smokers is quitting cold turkey or reducing and then quitting. Based on this article, NRT is a largely unnecessary approach.
In my experience, while some people do quit cigarettes in this way, most will fail. Apart from sometimes having to deal with the side effects of NRT (headaches, rashes, insomnia are common), many clients came to regard it as a kind of self-delusion in that quitting nicotine in cigarettes by taking it in a different form doesn’t make sense. They also recognize that smoking isn’t just about Nicotine; after all there are around 4000 other chemicals in a cigarette. And of course people smoke for psychological reasons also.


Jan 152014

Popular ways to Stopping Smoking Part 1

An experienced Dublin/Wicklow based Stop Smoking Specialist evaluates a few of the most popular methods people use to quit cigarettes and other forms of smoking.

Whether you want to Stop Smoking in Dublin, Wicklow, Bray, London or Los Angeles or practically anywhere on the globe, your choices are pretty much the same.

There are many different approaches to quitting cigarettes, and an endless stream of conflicting advice.  Some authorities advocate pharmacological products to help escape from nicotine, others recommend using a good counsellor; others say support groups with an organized programme are best. Many swear by Hypnosis.  For many years acupuncture was regarded as beneficial in quitting the noxious weed.  Cases are made for a combination of approaches.  And of course, there is always cold turkey. This article is one of a series which looks at and does some evaluation on the most popular methods.

Choosing the best method for you  can be quite confusing as, there is much conflicting information and even so called “scientific studies” often have conflicting results.

As a person who worked for quite a few years as a full time Stop Smoking Therapist, I have direct experience of dealing with people who are quitting cigarettes, and through them I have quite some knowledge of the various approaches they tried before arriving on my doorstep.  In addition to this I have a reasonable knowledge of the reported effectiveness of the various approaches

Below is a list of some of the more popular modern approaches to quitting cigarettes and my thoughts on them.

Cold Turkey
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Prescription Drugs
Counselling and Addiction Therapy
Combining NRT and Counselling and Addiction Therapy
Internet and Automated Approaches
Acupuncture and Laser Treatment

In this article we look at perhaps the most common choice – Cold Turkey

Cold Turkey

Cold Turkey is a popular term that means withdrawing completely from a substance such as tobacco without external help.  Cold turkey can also include incrementally reducing cigarette usage, followed by complete cessation.
There is significant evidence to suggest that cold turkey is the most effective way to stop smoking.  A report in Science Daily in February 2010 states that a review by Chapman and McKenzie of over 500 scientific studies indicates that two thirds to three quarters of ex-smokers stop smoking unaided.
Anecdotal evidence, based on my observations of people in my community suggests that the results of the above study are accurate.  In addition as an ex-smoker myself, before quitting permanently using Hypnosis more than twenty years ago, I stopped once for a period of one year and once for a period of two years by simply using my own willpower.
Some of the negatives of using Cold Turkey include the need to mobilise significant amounts of willpower over an extended period, which can be difficult.   Quitting cigarettes Cold Turkey can also cause mental and emotional turbulence such as crankiness, weepiness, unpredictability, concentration problems and sometimes relationship problems.  Many people quitting Cold Turkey report a sense of grief, or a sense that a great friend has been lost.  Anxiety sufferers can use cigarettes as a medicine, and removing this “medicine” can sometimes result in increased anxiety, for a period at least.
On the positive side, when done successfully, quitting “under your own steam” can be self-affirming and uplifting and give a great sense of personal achievement.  All of that of course is in addition to the obvious health benefits.
So when stopping smoking your first port of call should be to do it yourself unaided. It works for many.
Of course, for those who do not succeed in this way, there are other alternatives.  In my next article I will deal with some of the other options available to those who want to Stop Smoking.