New Therapies To Quit Smoking

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While the cigarette companies are raking in the money (as is the government through various taxes on cigarettes) not to be left behind is the quit smoking brigade. There are so many therapies to quit smoking, so many books which promise that it is easy to kick the habit, so many different therapists and organizations which have come up with new concepts and practices to quit smoking that a smoker who wants to quit can be pretty confused as to what to try.

Giving up smoking is not easy because a smoker suffers from a physical and a psychological addiction to nicotine. Most smokers have tried on and off to quit and then gone back to smoking.

If you are a smoker, there are many therapies to help you quit. There is the cold turkey method, where you stop immediately and without any help, but requires a great deal of discipline and will power. There are herbs and alternative remedies you can try which may help bolster your will power and reduce your craving for cigarettes. Then there are nicotine replacement therapies whereby nicotine can be taken in via patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers and sprays, which take care of your physical addiction to smoking. If you try nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) you must take a doctor's advice as to what will be best for you, because taking in nicotine directly in this manner can have other side effects.

You need all the help you can get to quit smoking and technology has made advances which may be of some help to some people. Lasers re being used for lots of different medical treatments, whether it is eye problems or cosmetic ones or more advanced treatments for critical illnesses like cancer. A low level laser technology is used as an anti-smoking therapy and this has helped people quit smoking in as little as one session. The cold laser is used externally, is non-invasive and drug free. It is used at certain points in the body which are related to smoking and the use of the laser promotes the release of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are the feel good chemicals which also reduce stress and promote a feeling of well being. However, though laser therapy is new, it is also controversial and has not yet been certified by FDA. It is also expensive and you may require many sessions. If it is combined with behavior modification techniques and counseling it is more likely to be of help.

From China (which has a large number of smokers) comes acupuncture. Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into certain acupuncture points which will be of aid to reduce a smoker's desire to smoke. It may take several weeks of therapy to be effective. Some practitioners like to add some herbs to the therapy to make quitting easier.

Since smoking involves both physical and psychological addiction, hypnosis is another therapy which is totally painless and has no side effects. As smoking is a learned habit, it can be 'unlearned'; and hypnosis can help you break the habit. When a person goes to a hypnotherapist for one-to-one therapy, the therapist generally uses two approaches. One is to bolster the person's will power to quit smoking. The other is to use aversion therapy so that the smoker begins to hate cigarettes and smoking. Basically hypnosis uses the power of suggestion, first by relaxing you completely, so that you are more amenable to the suggestions and then by going into your subconscious mind and reinforcing your own desire to get rid of your negative habits. It reduces stress and helps you break the habit of smoking.

There is yet another method which can help you quit smoking. A new drug called Zyban (Bupropion) or Chantix (varenicline), which has been medically prescribed, can help reduce the urge to quit smoking. However, as these are drugs, they side effects, and these can be quite serious. They are also contraindicated in many illness or along with other drugs. Please do not take any smoking cessation drugs without going to a doctor.

An even more exciting breakthrough may be on the horizon. In an interview in The New York Times, Dr. David B. Abram, executive director of the Steven A. Schroeder National Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at the American Legacy Foundation, spoke of a nicotine vaccine NicVAX, which may be of use in preventing relapse into smoking. He also spoke of the possibility of the FDA gradually reducing the amount of nicotine in cigarettes over a long period of time, if the required legislation is passed. Once nicotine is reduced, the addictive power of cigarettes, too, will be limited.

However, that is in the future. Now is the time to quit smoking before your health quits on you. It is in your hands to do so and you must have the desire, the will power and the discipline to quit smoking one way or the other and regain your health and reverse the ill effects of smoking.

by Krystyna Pritschmann

Krystyna, a former nurse, is running several blogs about health, nutrition and fitness. Read more about how to quit smoking here.

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