The benefits of stopping smoking are clear: only 20 minutes after a smoker last cigarette, blood pressure and heart rate begin to return to normality. Yet millions of smokers are virtually impossible to escape. What are the best long-term solutions?
Nicotine is "seriously underestimated". So much so that some evil is that addiction has been compared to that of heroin, says Prof. Chris Bolliger, pulmonary expert at the University of Stellenbosch (US) Faculty of Health Sciences.
There are more factors involved in smoking addiction than mere nicotine addiction and these factors make smoking a complex and demanding process.
Research has shown that the majority of ex-smokers pledged to maintain their resolution after they have managed to abstain for at least one year.
According to a study conducted by Boston University's School of Dental Medicine, only two to four percent of ex-smokers generally pick up the habit again each year after the initial period of two years.
The best results, which has yet to be scientifically verified, indicate a maximum success rate of 50 percent after six months, it is estimated that 35 per cent after one year, and it is estimated that the 30 per cent after two years.
Some of the options available that may lead to a long-term solution, include nicotine replacement therapy (gum, inhaler or patches), the new drug Zyban, a combination of the above, the Smokenders programme, or quitting all alone . Choose the one that suits you best.
1. The nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
According to Prof. Bolliger, any form of NRT increases the rate of success of a programme of smoking cessation. All the different types of NRT have been shown to be effective, with little or no side effects.
NRT can be regarded as a temporary solution that helps smokers overcome the first obstacle on their journey to long-term smoking.
A suggestion for ex-smokers: Always carry a batch of gum or another type of NRT with you while you travel. "The call could come at any time," says Bolliger.
2. Zyban alone
The antidepressant Zyban (bupropion) is the latest aid in smoking. The drug seems to increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, leading to a greater feeling of pleasure.
Not only did bupropion been an effective tool to help smokers quit many, but it seems to prevent relapse, according to researchers at Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center. Unfortunately, the relapse-free period not persist. At the end of the first year, 55% of the Zyban group and the Mayo Clinic study were still smoke-free, but two years later, the number of similar and not Zyban Zyban groups had relapsed.
In the longer term treatment of bupropion may prevent relapse, but more research on long-term benefits of Zyban is necessary before accurate conclusions can be drawn.
Some people should not use Zyban. People who should not take Zyban include:
* Seizure of people with disorders such as epilepsy,
* Those who have shown an allergic response to bupropion,
* People with a Corsican or the first diagnosis of bulimia, anorexia nervosa or bipolar disorder,
* People with liver disease,
* Kidney problems,
* Heart problems,
* Traumatic brain injury,
* A brain or spinal tumor,
* Diabetes, or
* People who use alcohol or benzodiazipine sleeping tablets.
Zyban is available only on prescription.
3. Combination Therapy
Combination Therapy, which includes consulting, the simultaneous administration of NRT (patches and / or gum) and / or the drug Zyban, appears to be an effective solution for many smokers. Preliminary research results indicate a 50 per cent six months success rate for the combination therapy.
The dose and the use of NRT and / or Zyban vary depending on the individual. The usual recommendation is to take NRT and / or Zyban for a period of three months - and then make or not. If you do not make, it is not useful to try again immediately. To accept and have another go in six months' time, the Board of Bolliger.
Of advice is an integral part of the project Stop, a program of smoking cessation that runs at the US Department of Health Sciences.
4. Smokenders' behavioral changes
Some experts do not believe NRT only as a long-term solution, but as a temporary replacement. This substitution method does not address the heart psychological factors involved in smoking addiction.
According Mercia Axon, managing director of Smokenders, nicotine addiction is only one aspect of smoking addiction. This factor is blown out of proportion, he said. The long-term focus of smoking should be on behavioral changes.
"Most smokers will acknowledge that the emotional bond with their cigarettes is the biggest problem. Our program gives people a tool for managing stress and helps them to rebuild their emotional support system," says Axon.
Smokenders International, the group deals in particular with the emotional and psychological aspects involved in smoking. These factors are addressed during seven group sessions with clients. Long-term success is tied to appropriate forms of emotions and stress management - without cigarettes. The first six months is the most difficult for many smokers. Customers who feel the need to light during this period, should immediately contact their advisers, Axon recommends.
The group claims that they have a success rate of 92 percent after one year and a 70 percent to 75 percent success rate after five years.
Bolliger, however, the query high success rates of some programs smoking cessation. He speculates that inaccurate feedback from clients may be the strengthening of the figures.
5. Kicking the habit on their own
Closing all alone is not easy, but not impossible.
The biggest reason for the relapse, in general, is to let the feeling of being concerned for her without cigarettes. Other reasons include missing the pleasure of smoking, feeling pressure from family members or friends who smoke or feeling addicts. Men who drank more than five alcoholic drinks a day were more likely to relapse. Drinking more than six cups of coffee a day, also increases the risk of relapse.
These results from Boston researchers suggest that the techniques of stress management, as exercise or yoga, can play an important role in long-term success, if you want to stop by yourself or join a program.
People who have committed themselves to stop smoking should make it easier for themselves by monitoring their diet to prevent weight gain and cutting back on excess intake of alcohol and caffeine to reduce the risk of relapse.
"Whatever works is good," says Bolliger. "In the end, most people are standing alone."
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