The $13,000 Habit You Should Kick Now
Your No-Excuses Plan to Quit Smoking
Face it: You're out of reasons not to. When it comes to quitting smoking, whatever you're worried about, we've got a real solution that'll help you ditch the excuses and start changing your health.If You're: Worried about the scale
Try: The weight-loss pill Rimonabant, regular exercise, nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) and/or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
What They Do: Rimonabant is a drug that's prescribed to reduce food cravings, but some doctors also use it off-label to help patients quit smoking. Still in the testing phase, the drug has not been approved by the FDA as a bona fide smoking-cessation treatment. Vigorous exercise for up to 40 minutes can reduce smoking urges and calm withdrawal symptoms, compared with staying inactive. Working out can nearly triple the time it takes for smokers to reach for their next fix, studies show. Researchers say that even 5 to 10 minutes of movement may be beneficial. Theoretically, because endorphins produced during exercise offer a natural high, a little cardio may serve as an antidote for quitting pangs. The welcome side effect: You might actually lose weight.
On average, female quitters can expect to gain between six and eight pounds after quitting. Over a 10-year period, the average weight gain is 11 pounds. Researchers believe that using a nicotine-replacement therapy (such as the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, lozenge, nasal spray, and inhaler) may help prevent weight gain. "Not only does nicotine suppress hunger, but it also speeds up the metabolism," says Cheryl Healton, DrPH, president and CEO of ALF. She suggests piggybacking NRT with a morning workout to rev up the fat burn and dampen your smoking itch. Clinical trials using CBT -- a treatment that reframes the way patients think about smoking and teaches them techniques to better cope with stressors -- have shown promising results, Foster says. In one study, participants who completed a seven-week CBT program had gained less weight by the time of their one-year follow-up than women who received a standard weight-control treatment.If You've: Failed with other quit fixes
What It Does: "Chantix targets the nicotine receptor in your brain to help control cravings," says Steven A. Schroeder, MD, distinguished professor of health and health care and director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California at San Francisco. The drug affects the brain's pleasure chemicals while reducing cravings for nicotine. However, studies using Chantix in conjunction with other remedies are still in the testing phase. For now, it's best to take the drug by itself.If You: Spark up nonstop
Try: An NRT medley
What They Do: The drugs work collaboratively, like a tag team. For example, you may use the patch, which delivers a specific, steady dosage of nicotine over time, as an adjunct to short-acting formulas, such as the gum or lozenge, which can squash cravings expeditiously. Schroeder says such dual therapies are becoming more popular in patients with severe addiction.If You're: Emotionally strung out
Try: The antidepressant Wellbutrin (also prescribed as Zyban) and NRT. This combination has proven to be the most effective course, Healton says.
What They Do: The NRT slowly weans you off the chemical dependency. Wellbutrin treats both cravings and withdrawal by affecting certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, that may augment the desire to smoke. This line of defense is best for smokers who are also depressed, Healton says, because the drug addresses the mental problem and the smoking addiction simultaneously. Your hips could nab a profit too. Wellbutrin may also help prevent weight gain.If You: Smoke in social settings
Try: A fast-acting NRT and CBT
What They Do: When environmental factors are the main cause of your cravings, one of the best remedies is to avoid trigger places, or find substitutes for them. In some instances, a quick "nic" hit via the gum or lozenge may be helpful, Schroeder says. On top of that, behavioral training will teach you how to ameliorate the situation without reaching for cigarettes.If You: Need moral support
Try: Group or phone counseling
What They Do: Having the fellowship and support of quit buddies can give you the ammo to stay clean, Schroeder notes. Studies show group therapy may be a successful intervention, compared with self-help. Looking for a more anonymous route? Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to be connected to a trained phone counselor in your region who will customize a kick scheme just for you. Review studies have shown that abstinence rates for people using quit lines are comparable with those using NRT.If You're: Holistically inclined
Try: Acupuncture, hypnosis, or going cold turkey
What They Do: There are arguments supporting all three, but the scientific evidence is scant and inconclusive. "Lots of people quit before there were any drug therapies," Healton notes. "But the success rate increases by about 30 percent when you use a state-of-the-art treatment," such as the ones mentioned.
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