You can quit smoking, and there are many ways to try
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Friday, November 23, 2012
11/23/12 at 4:02 AM
Dear Doctor K: I have tried to quit smoking several times but just can't. The patch and Chantix didn't work. Support groups aren't for me. Are there other approaches that might help?
Dear Reader: Keep trying. It often takes smokers several tries before they are successful. I spoke to my colleague Dr. Thomas Lee, editor-in-chief of the Harvard Heart Letter. Here are our thoughts.
Smokers today have a number of tools to fight tobacco addiction. These include nicotine replacement (nicotine patches, gums, lozenges, inhalers and sprays); non-nicotine medications such as bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin) and varenicline (Chantix); counseling and behavior-change therapy; and social support. None are miracle workers.
You mentioned the nicotine patch. Try it again, this time in combination with a nicotine gum, lozenge or inhaler to help to handle breakthrough cravings the patch can't counteract.
Chantix helps cut down cravings and withdrawal symptoms and, by partially blocking the effect of nicotine, reduces smoking's "reward." Try Zyban, a drug that helps reduce the desire to smoke, which may work better for you.
Even if you don't want to join a support group, call the national quit line at 800-QUIT-NOW. You can get free, helpful support from the comfort of your home.
A misconception is, "What's the use; the damage is already done." If you've been smoking for decades, you may have some permanent damage in the lung. But two hours after your last cigarette, nicotine starts leaving your body. One month later, much of the lung damage starts to heal. One year later, your risk of a heart attack or stroke is much lower. So is your risk of lung cancer.
Work with your doctor or a smoking-cessation specialist to figure out a plan tailored for you.
There are more ex-smokers in the United States today than there are smokers. It won't be easy, but you can do it!
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106