It is no secret that cigarette smoking is the #1 preventable cause of death. It is never too late to quit, as smokers who quit reduce their risk of tobacco-related diseases. Of course, stopping smoking can be difficult. However, there are effective medical treatments for tobacco dependence, and doctors at Medzino can help you with the available treatment options.
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Written by Dr Yasmin Aghajan, MD
Information last reviewed 06/21/19
Many people who smoke have thought about quitting in the past. There are 5 stages of “readiness to quit” and it is helpful to consider what stage you are in at this point in time.
From “Contemplation” to beyond, doctors can help provide medical treatments to help you achieve your quitting goal. Quitting begins with setting an “end date” and it is possible to successfully quit smoking with the guidance of your doctor.
Smoking cessation is not always easy, and there are several common barriers that patients experience.
Symptoms peak in the first three days of quitting, and can last up to three to four weeks. Smoking cessation medications can help with these symptoms.
Environmental Triggers: one obstacle to quitting smoking can be the environmental triggers associated with smoking, such as morning coffee, alcoholic drinks, or the end of a meal, or a break from work to take a walk.
Many smokers desire to quit, and using the available treatments gives them a better chance of being successful. The combination of behavior modifications, behavior counseling, and medications significantly improves the chance of success.
The first-line medications for smoking cessation include combination nicotine replacement therapy such as nicotine patch, gum, or lozenges with the addition of the medications Varenicline or Bupropion. It is important to go through a detailed medical history with your doctor before being prescribed one of these medications. More information is available through Medzino.
Varenicline and Bupropion are FDA-approved for smoking cessation, as they have shown to be effective in quitting smoking.
Medications are used in conjunction with nicotine replacement. Better results are seen with the combination of two nicotine replacement products, such as patch with gum or lozenge. The patch is long-acting, and gum or lozenge are short acting.
The FDA-approved medications are Varenicline and Bupropion, in conjunction with nicotine replacement products.
Cigarettes contain nicotine, and the body can get addicted to nicotine. Nicotine replacement are products such as gum, lozenges, and patches that provide a controlled amount of Nicotine to help curb the cravings while you are quitting.
Bupropion is a medication of the antidepressant class, which is also FDA approved for smoking cessation. It helps reduce the urge to smoke and withdrawal symptoms. It is a prescription-only medication. Treatment usually lasts 7-12 weeks, but may be longer. Bupropion is contraindicated in patients with a seizure disorder, or a history of seizures.
Varenicline is FDA approved for smoking cessation. It works by preventing nicotine stimulating the dopamine system in the brain which is associated with reward and nicotine addiction. It also helps with withdrawal and cravings.
Smoking is one of the leading causes of death, and is one of the biggest risk factors for lung cancer. Smoking raises the risk of heart disease. Cigarette smoke contains cancer-causing chemicals, called carcinogens. These chemicals travel from the lungs into the bloodstream, reaching all the organs in the body. Even secondhand smoke can be harmful, especially to children, infants, and those with asthma or respiratory disease.
Some people quit smoking without planning for it; others have to plan and try several times before success. There are some basic steps to start with:
Nicotine is addictive, and the withdrawal is one of the biggest barriers for patients to quit. Withdrawal symptoms include:
Symptoms peak in the first three days of quitting, and can last up to three to four weeks.
Stead LF, Koilpillai P, Fanshawe TR, Lancaster T. Combined pharmacotherapy and behavioural interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2016; 3:CD008286.
Rigotti NA. Strategies to help a smoker who is struggling to quit. JAMA 2012; 308:1573.
West R. Assessment of dependence and motivation to stop smoking. BMJ 2004; 328:338.
Siu AL, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Behavioral and pharmacotherapy interventions for tobacco smoking cessation in adults, including pregnant women: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med 2015; 163:622.
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