Stop Smoking Treatments
Around 10 million adults in Great Britain smoke. There are more than 4000 chemicals in cigarette smoke and it is the toxins found in cigarette, which cause the majority of harmful effects.
Cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance causing feelings of pleasure and reduced anxiety by affecting the same areas of the brain and releasing the same substances produced when we are happy such as dopamine and noradrenaline. Nicotine acts very quickly, reaching the brain within 10-19 seconds. In addition to the physical addiction caused by nicotine, there is also an element of psychological and behavioral addiction towards cigarette smoking.
What are the risks of smoking?
Smoking is the most preventable cause of illness and premature death in the UK.
Smoking is associated with:
- Over 10% of deaths from stroke
- Almost 90% of deaths from lung cancer
- Around 80% of deaths from bronchitis and emphysema
- Increases the risk of heart attack by 5 times in smokers under 40 years of age
- Increases sperm abnormalities and can cause impotence
- Responsible for more than ¼ of all cancer deaths
It is also documented that for every 1000 young adult smokers, half will die due to a smoking related illness.
What are the withdrawal symptoms of stopping smoking?
There are a few withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping treatment, however with time the symptoms will subside. Withdrawal symptoms and their typical duration are listed below:
- Irritability/aggression: typically lasts less than 4 weeks
- Depression: typically lasts less than 4 weeks
- Restlessness: typically lasts less than 4 weeks
- Poor concentration: typically lasts less than 2 weeks
- Light-headedness: typically lasts less than 48 hours
- Sleep disturbance: typically lasts less than 1 week
- Craving: can last longer than 2 weeks
Can stopping smoking lead to weight gain?
It is true that increased appetite is a withdrawal symptom, however the benefits of stopping smoking massively outweighs the potential risk for weight gain, which can be combated through healthy eating and regular exercise.
What are the success rates with vs without help?
The importance of treatment cannot be overstated with only 3% of smokers able to quit through willpower alone. Access to stop smoking treatment and services for behavioral support is key.
Treatment with NRT + brief advice has a success rates to 10%, whilst if you have intensive support the success rate increases to around 20%. Those who use Champix are shown to have an even higher success rate from smoking abstinence.
How can I prepare myself for stopping smoking?
Stopping smoking is not easy and a few of the following tips may help you along your path for a successful quit attempt:
- Set a quit date and stick to it
- Throw away all cigarettes the night before your quit date
- Prepare a list of reasons you want to quit
- Identify people close to you who can provide support after you stop smoking
- Plan ahead and be prepared for the difficult times
- Initially try adapt routines in order to avoid situations where you would like to smoke
- Consider using a stop smoking product such as Champix or NRT
What treatment options are there for stopping smoking?
Nicotine replacement therapy is a safe way treatment for smoking cessation. These products work by controlling the addiction to nicotine found in cigarette smoke by delivering controlled amount of nicotine without other harmful substances, this allows patients the control of cravings and the ability to reduce the amount of nicotine they are dependent on with time. NRT products come in various forms (such as nicotine patches and mouth sprays) and can be obtained from the majority of local pharmacies without a prescription.
Champix contains the active ingredient Vareniciline and is only available on prescription. It is recommended as an option for smokers, who have expressed a desire to quit smoking and can tolerate this medication. Vareniciline (Champix) has proven to be a highly effective aid for stopping smoking, with success rates higher than those produced by using NRT.
Bupropion (Zyban) has a mechanism of action that is not clear but this medication is believed to work alteration of noradrenaline and dopamine neurotransmission, however due to the risks associated with this medication, it is less commonly used.