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Quit for Good: How to Drop Your Nicotine Addiction

March 22, 2024

By: Emily DeWalt, Prevention Specialist


The popularity of smoking cigarettes has significantly decreased in the past two decades. Now that we have a better understanding of how bad cigarettes are for the body, we’ve seen a dramatic drop in marketing for cigarettes and their presence in the media.  These changes are a major success for public health, but unfortunately the story does not end there. Today, instead of seeing addictive nicotine products in the form of cigarettes, we see widespread use of e-cigarettes (also known as “vapes”). There may be differences in the ingredients of cigarettes and vapes, but both contain nicotine and chemicals that we know to be detrimental to our health. With nicotine being so addictive, many people who smoke or vape want to stop relying on the drug to get them through the day. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help people quit that are easy to access and have shown to be effective.   


In 2004, the CDC and the National Cancer Institute launched its first nationwide smoking quitline 1-800-QUIT-NOW. This network made quitline services available to people in every state and U.S. territory. When someone calls the national quitline, a trained coach will help design an individualized plan for quitting cigarettes or vapes for good. The national quitline will also connect callers to state quitlines, which will provide the same service while also referring those that want to quit to local resources.


In Arizona, we have the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline (ASHLine). Since its inception in 1995, the ASHLine has offered free support for those looking to quit smoking over the phone. Today, the quitline also provides web-based quit services, which is allowing the ASHLine to reach more people seeking this service. When a caller creates a quit plan with a locally trained coach, they will plan an official quit date, discuss medications that can help with quitting, and identify and learn how to deal with triggers that may tempt them into smoking. For ongoing support, the quitline coach can talk with you over the phone, website chat and even text message. If you or a loved one wants to quit smoking, call the ASHLine at 1-800-55-66-222 to get started.


It can be challenging to find in-person support when trying to stop an addiction to nicotine. Most rehabilitation or treatment centers do not provide resources for those looking to quit smoking or vaping. Fortunately, the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center helps fill in the gap. At this clinic, specialists in smoking cessation offer many different treatment options, including talk therapy, medication, and even a residential smoking cessation program. This residential program, also known as the Intensive Tobacco Treatment Program, includes 5 days of addiction therapy and behavior change as well as a medication regimen that can be monitored by physicians. Even after this program ends, the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center will continue to support cessation with regular check-ins and by  sharing relapse prevention strategies.


Research has found that nicotine replacement therapy products (NRT products) are highly effective to those addicted to nicotine. NRT products, such as nicotine gum or nicotine patches, help manage cravings and withdrawals once an individual stops smoking. Even though these products contain the addictive substance nicotine, NRT products are a better alternative to smoking because they give a low, controlled dose without the harmful chemicals that are inhaled while smoking. It is recommended that you talk with your provider about your plan to quit and ask about NRT products. Some of these products require a prescription, but you can find many NRT products over the counter at most pharmacies. NRT products have shown to be just as effective as bupropion, which is another smoking cessation medication that requires prescription.


Medications will certainly help those trying to stop smoking or vaping, but many people prefer to manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms in a more natural way. A 2023 article from Healthline titled “How to Quit Smoking Naturally — from an Eastern Perspective” provides insight to alternative ways to quit. The Chinese practice of acupuncture has been used to treat pain and other ailments for thousands of years and has also been found to help people quit smoking. Researchers believe that when a specific acupuncture point in the ear is stimulated (the closest point to the vagus nerve) withdrawal symptom signals are blocked, giving the individual a break from those symptoms.  



To curb cravings, many herbal remedies have been found to minimize cravings such as lavender oil, lime juice and St. John’s Wort. These remedies have also helped people work through withdrawal symptoms related to mood, such as irritability and restlessness. Practicing yoga can also benefit those trying to quit smoking by mindfully focusing on the breath during each pose.  The American Cancer Society also suggests that positive lifestyle changes may influence the success of smoking cessation. Some of these changes include:


  • Eating frequent small meals throughout the day

  • Avoiding drinks that you associate with smoking for a few months (ex: coffee or alcohol)

  • Exercising to reduce stress and promote relaxation

  • Chewing gum, hard candy, or a toothpick if you miss feeling something in your mouth

  • Using a stress ball or holding a pencil to keep your hands busy

  • Getting a good night’s sleep every night


There are always new studies looking into the most effective ways to help people quit their smoking habit. The information above describes what has been found so far, but it’s important to be on the look out for latest science behind overcoming an addiction to nicotine. We hope that you’ve found this blog both informational and helpful. Please share with anyone you know that may be trying to quit smoking or vaping, or consider calling a quitline if you yourself want to stop smoking or vaping.




 

Thank you for reading. We appreciate your time, and hope that you check back in for next week’s blog!



Sources

1.      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2024). 1-800-QUIT-NOW: 15 Years of Helping People Quit. Last viewed March 22, 2024. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/features/quitlines/index.html

2.      ASHLine (2024). Pick up the phone today and quit. . Last viewed March 22, 2024. Available at: https://www.azdhs.gov/ashline/#quit-your-way

3.      Mayo Clinic (2024). Nicotine Dependence Center. . Last viewed March 22, 2024. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/departments-centers/nicotine-dependence-center/sections/overview/ovc-20457521

4.      Healthline (2023). Nicotine Replacement Therapy Products and How to Use Them. Last viewed March 22, 2024. Available at:  https://www.healthline.com/health/quit-smoking/nicotine-replacement-therapy#faq

5.      Healthline (2023). How to Quit Smoking Naturally — from an Eastern Perspective. Last viewed March 22, 2024. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/copd/quit-smoking-acupuncture-herbs

 

Images

1.      Imagekind (2024). Small man dumps water on cigarette. Last viewed March 22, 2024. Available at: https://www.imagekind.com/No-Smoking_art?IMID=cf3e282f-d2fc-41ea-87e7-d196ffe50a1a

2.      StoryMD (2024). Girl applying nicotine patch. Last viewed March 22, 2024. Available at:  https://storymd.com/journal/vj6dg63uzw-nicotine-replacement-therapy

3.      LilyAna Naturals (2024). Lavender oil with lavender flowers. Last viewed March 22, 2024. Available at:  https://lilyananaturals.com/blogs/news/7-benefits-of-lavender-oil-for-skin

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