Products that can help you stop smoking
Thirteen million British adults smoke, and every year several million of them try to give up. Now there's more help than ever before with drugs and nicotine replacement therapy on prescription, NHS smoking cessation clinics and a range of natural alternatives to ease withdrawal symptoms. All treatments compare well financially with the annual £1,500 bill a 20 a day smoker incurs, but still the majority of people give up using willpower alone.
It can be tough and often makes people feel ill with coughs and catarrh coupled with depression and cravings. Withdrawal symptoms like these often cause people to pick up the habit again, because they feel worse than when they were smoking. But no-one can be in doubt about the health implications - it costs the NHS £1.7 billion a year to treat smoking-related illnesses, which 120,000 people die of every year in the UK.
Zyban is a nicotine-free tablet only available on prescription. Figures from the States have shown that it has helped one million people to stop smoking and can be a blessing for those who find it hard to quit.
Believed to work on the addiction pathways of the central nervous system it reduces the craving for cigarettes and lessens the anxiety, sweating and irritability which often accompany giving up. Smokers start taking Zyban while they're still puffing, but the drug removes the pleasurable buzz of nicotine and consequently the desire to smoke.
Reported side-effects include nausea, rashes, headaches, dry mouth, blurred vision, and agitation and anxiety. Zyban isn't suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women, epileptics or anyone with liver disease or eating disorders.
Nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine replacement gum provides a lower level of nicotine than cigarettes, and has helped many people give up over the last 20 years. The gum is chewed slowly to release the nicotine in the mouth, and then it is 'parked' in the mouth so that nicotine can be absorbed into the bloodstream. People choose the strength and the amount they chew according to how heavy their habit is. Gum helps to wean smokers off cigarettes without withdrawal symptoms, but some people don't like the taste.
Often used in combination with gum, nicotine patches can be worn all day until bedtime or throughout the night. Usually worn on the upper arm, they must be moved to a different place each day. Nicotine is absorbed through the skin to prevent cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and patches come in different strengths according to levels of dependency. It is important not to smoke while wearing them.
Inhalers and Nasal Sprays
Cigarettes can be replaced by inhaling nicotine through the mouthpiece of an inhalator. Heavy smokers need extra help which they can get from nasal sprays because these allow nicotine to be absorbed quickly through the lining of the nose. At first they can irritate the nose, cause a sore throat or runny nose but the symptoms usually wear off after a few days.
Lozenges are claimed to more than triple a smoker's chances of giving up, by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Dependency is rated by 'Time to First Cigarette' in the morning, and the 67 per cent of smokers who light up within the first half hour of waking need the high dose 4mg lozenge, while others take the 2mg lozenge. There is a structured 12 week step-down schedule taking less lozenges throughout the period and eventually giving them up altogether. Users can get a free personally tailored support programme.
A complete drug and nicotine free way to give up smoking is to have acupuncture. Small needles are inserted into acupressure points around the body. They don't hurt and may not even draw blood.
Bharti Vyas, renowned holistic therapist and acupuncturist, explains: 'When people stop smoking the rest of the body is affected too so we get the rest of the system working well to help people give up easier.
'Then we place two or three pins in the ear to help the body to cope with nicotine and uplift them.' These needles are kept in and they stimulate the body to release the so-called pleasure chemicals - endorphins - which make us feel good and relieve pain.
Relaxation techniques are used to get people into a hypnotic state.
According to hypnotherapist Terry McGinn who practises near Burnley, Lancashire, 'Giving up needs to feel like liberation and it is far more powerful when people choose to quit, rather than being nagged to do it, which doesn't feel like choice. I get them to imagine choosing not to smoke and when they achieve this the buzz comes, not when they actually give up. It doesn't seem to matter if they are deeply in a hypnosed state, because sometimes people who only go in lightly succeed in giving up. Some people even quit after one session.'
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)
NLP is a therapy which offers people tools and techniques to help them to change quickly. Pete Cohen, author of Habit Busting explains, 'NLP studies how people operate and there is no doubt that they can change their behaviour and beliefs I believe smoking is a psychological addiction and giving up starts when they decide to stop. People need to remember why they smoked in the first place. I ask them to visualise what will happen if they continue to smoke, and alternatively if they give up when they will smell and taste fresher, be healthier and more energetic. We develop the idea of being in control and believing that they can give up.'
St John's Wort
The well known herbal alternative to anti-depressants, St John's Wort is believed to raise levels of the brain chemical, dopamine, which fall when smokers quit, resulting in cravings and depression. Trials on the herb's effectiveness are currently being carried out by the University of London's School of Pharmacy in a smoking cessation clinic. Participants receive 300mg of standardised St John's Wort either once or twice daily for three months.
The Latin name for oats is Avena Sativa, the extract of which was recently shown in trials to reduce smokers' requirement for cigarettes. The research carried out by American journal, Nature: Medicine, was conducted on people whose daily consumption was 254 cigarettes. At the end of the trial the amount participants smoked had gone down by 71 per cent, two per cent of them had given up and three per cent had halved their excesses. The tincture is taken in water two to three times a day and is completely natural.
A herbal remedy containing Vitamin C, camomile and passiflora helps ease cravings, anxiety, irritability, depression, increased appetite and increased catarrh and mucus. Nicobrevin capsules contain camphor, eucalyptus, oleic acid, quinine and menthyl valerate, and are taken over 28 days with a recommended dosage chart to support quitters.
First drafted by Frances Ive in 2002 (which is why we've removed the prices).
Page created on March 11th, 2010
Page updated on March 11th, 2010