The Most Effective Quit-Smoking Aids Today
We all know that quitting smoking isn’t a walk in the park. Sure, it will probably take you a couple of minutes to decide that you just smoked the last cigarette of your life, but what happens in the following days? Nicotine withdrawal is looming, and you have a better chance of outlasting that with the help of quit-smoking aids.
Once you’ve decided to quit smoking, you’ll notice that there’s a myriad of quit-smoking aids at your disposal. You’ll have no shortage of choices and picking the right quit-smoking aid can be just as stressful as nicotine withdrawal. So before you relapse from the stress, here’s a handy list of the most helpful, most effective quit-smoking aids available to you today. These quit-smoking aids are classified into two categories: nicotine-delivering and nicotine-free.
⦁ Nicotine-delivering quit-smoking aids
These quit-smoking aids help wean your body off nicotine by getting your body used to smaller amounts of nicotine. Through these aids, and a lot of willpower, your body should stop needing nicotine at all. However, it’s advised that you exercise caution when using quit-smoking aids that deliver nicotine. Simultaneously using more than one of these quit-smoking aids is not recommended.
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Nicotine patches are one of the most widespread stop-smoking aids. Once attached to your skin, these patches introduce small amounts of nicotine to your body. This helps prevent your nicotine levels from suddenly dropping, which your body will have a difficult time adjusting to.
It might sound like you’re merely getting your nicotine fix elsewhere, but keep in mind that nicotine patches contain significantly smaller amounts of nicotine compared to cigarettes. These patches will help your body get used to the lower nicotine doses; eventually, your body won’t need nicotine at all.
Nicotine patches must be placed directly on clean skin to maximize contact with your body. Most users of these patches wear them from their waking moments until bedtime. If the patch keeps falling off your skin during the day, try swabbing the area with alcohol before replacing the patch. Nicotine patches are available in varying doses, and most patches can be used anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.
Smokers with sensitive skin should be careful with using nicotine patches, as these can irritate the skin. If your skin turns red or you experience burning or itching within your first day of wearing the patch, don’t hesitate to remove the patch.
Like nicotine patches, nicotine gum contains small amounts of the drug, released once the gum is chewed. Nicotine gum is a great quit-smoking aid because you can pop it into your mouth anytime, anywhere and get a nicotine fix. Ex-smokers say that the gum can help relieve stress brought by cravings, making you less vulnerable to the relapse that is common during the first few weeks after you quit smoking.
The mechanism of nicotine gum may seem self-explanatory, but there’s a certain way of chewing nicotine gum that lets you enjoy its maximum effect. Once you’ve slipped the gum into your mouth, give it a few hard chews and ‘park’ it in the space between your gum and your lower lip. This technique allows the gum to deliver the nicotine sublingually, through the thin tissues in the mouth. Most brands of nicotine also advise not drinking or eating anything for 15 minutes before and after using nicotine gum.
Nicotine inhalers have been compared to e-cigarettes, as both quit-smoking aids let you directly inhale nicotine through your mouth. The two quit-smoking aids differ in many ways; for instance, inhalers don’t give off smoke like some e-cigarettes do. Nicotine inhalers hit you with a small dose of nicotine with each puff, which may feel natural for some smokers. These inhalers come in different designs, too; some can pass as cigarettes at first glance, while others don’t appear similar to cigarettes at all.
Smokers working in smoke-free environments might find a nicotine inhaler more effective than other quit-smoking aids. Different nicotine inhalers might use varying methods for delivering nicotine, but the mechanism remains essentially the same: you unscrew the cap on the back of the inhaler, put in a nicotine cartridge, replace the cap, and take a puff as needed. Using a nicotine inhaler will probably feel familiar, as you’ll only need to inhale through one end of the inhaler to get nicotine. This might give you a higher success rate at quitting smoking.
Nicotine mouth spray
Like with nicotine gum, you can get nicotine from nicotine mouth spray either sublingually or through the gums and the thin tissues of the mouth. Many smokers prefer this mouth spray to other quit-smoking aids that deliver nicotine through the mouth, as the bitter flavor of nicotine can be masked by different flavors of mouth spray.
To use nicotine mouth spray, point the dispenser towards your open mouth and firmly press the depressor once or twice. The mist should float directly into your mouth. In some cases, you’ll have to prime the pump first by rapidly pressing the depressor while the dispenser is pointed away from your face. This commonly happens if you don’t frequently use your mouth spray. You can use two sprays at once, but try to keep your usage at a maximum of 4 sprays per hour or 64 sprays in 24 hours.
The use of nicotine mouth spray is not recommended if less than twelve hours has passed since your last cigarette.
⦁ Nicotine-Free Quit-Smoking Aids
These quit-smoking aids are more suitable for smokers determined to really quit smoking cold turkey. These aids explore other methods of helping you deal with nicotine withdrawal and all the stress and discomfort it brings.
Is there anything your trusty smartphone can’t do? We’re truly lucky to live in a time where quit-smoking apps can be downloaded to iPhones as well as Android phones, Windows Mobile phones, and BlackBerry devices. You can even download these apps to your iPad or iPod. You can set up these apps to send you reminders or encouraging messages so you can keep yourself on track on your journey to quit smoking. Some great quit-smoking apps you can use include:
⦁ LIVESTRONG MyQuit Coach (Apple)
⦁ Quit Smoking (Android)
⦁ Tweetsmoking (Android)
⦁ Butt Out (iPhone)
⦁ Quit Smoking: Cessation Nation (Android)
In the US, you can get medications that can reduce the intensity of nicotine cravings, relieve stress, and prevent the depression the major lifestyle change of quitting smoking can bring. Medications such as Zyban (also known by the generic name bupropion) and Chantix can reportedly help you get rid of your smoking habits.
Classified as an aminoketone drug, Zyban regulates levels of brain chemicals such as dopamine. By increasing these chemical levels, this medication can help in decreasing the frequency of nicotine cravings. Some say that there are side effects to using Zyban, though; increased risk of palpitations, physical weakness, and even depression are just some of the potential side effects of this quit-smoking aid. This is why you should consult with your physician if you plan to take Zyban as part of your decision to quit smoking.
Using Zyban also takes some planning, as the medication can take up to three weeks to become effective. So you’ll want to start taking the medication as early as three weeks before you decide to stop smoking. The good news is that many ex-smokers report that Zyban reduced their cigarette cravings ahead of their quit date.
Many ex-smokers swear by the effectiveness of acupuncture and acupressure as quit-smoking aids. Both methods stimulate specific acupuncture points to relieve pressure or pain and to promote healing. If you’re not averse to the idea of having tiny needles inserted into different areas of your body, you might want to give acupuncture a try. If you would rather not deal with needles, try out acupressure, which uses pressure instead of needles. Whichever method you try out, make sure to seek the services only of qualified professionals.
Hypnosis is a controversial method of quitting smoking, primarily because many people don’t believe in hypnosis. However, many former smokers have attested to its helpfulness.
A therapist usually oversees hypnosis sessions. Individuals seeking to be hypnotized are asked to relax or meditate so they can calm and clear their minds. Once the individual is calm and relaxed, the therapist uses guided imagery to help the mind focus on certain goals or objectives, as the mind is more impressionable when it’s relaxed. If the hypnosis is successful, the individual can permanently quit smoking right then and there.
Even if that goal is not quite achieved, hypnosis can still help in reducing stress levels and preventing anxiety and anger. This still allows the smoker to more easily focus on his or her goal of quitting smoking. Hypnosis might not be the ideal quit-smoking aid for you, but you have nothing to lose by trying it out.
Despite the stigma of psychotherapy, getting professional help for your journey to finally quit smoking is not a bad idea at all. In fact, a therapist can provide valuable support and guidance throughout the process. Look for a psychologist or a guidance counselor in your area, and see if they would be willing to accommodate you when you get intense cravings or when nicotine withdrawal negatively affects your emotional or mental wellbeing. Therapy sessions may be what you need to remain focused and avoid getting overwhelmed by cigarette cravings.
Therapy can also help you identify your triggers so you can avoid them in the future.
Support from peers
Quitting smoking is not something you can do on your own. You’ll need the support of your loved ones or peers if you want to get through nicotine withdrawal with your emotional and mental wellbeing intact. Ex-smokers actually say that the presence of peer support is one of the biggest factors to succeeding in quitting smoking.
You can get the support you need from many places, starting in your own home. If you’d rather not involve your family in the process, you can also join local support groups that aim to help addicts change their lives. These support groups tend to work just like Alcoholics Anonymous; in fact, one of the most popular of these support groups is called Nicotine Anonymous. Smoking is truly an addiction, after all.
By joining a local support group, you can enjoy more direct contact with ex-smokers and quitting smokers and thus benefit from a stronger sense of support. Many of these groups are managed by therapists or addiction specialists, so you might be able to get some professional help, too. You can try locating support groups in your area by asking around in clinics or community centers. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions so you can make an informed choice.
Support from online forums and quit-smoking hotlines
You can also count on many online support groups and networks devoted to helping smokers kick the habit. You can join these online communities for free and share experiences with individuals who are going through the same difficulties you are. You can even use these forums just for venting or stress relief when the cravings are particularly bad. And, who knows, you might even pick up a useful tip or two from an ex-smoker.
A quick online search for quit-smoking forums will yield many results. Pick a forum with an active community and get in touch with smokers with goals similar to yours.
If you live in the US, you can also get support from quit-smoking lines such as 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Available for almost every US state, these hot lines are manned by peer counselors who can give you the guidance and encouragement you need to successfully get through nicotine withdrawal. Hours of availability may vary between the hot lines, but calling during daytime hours will connect you to a peer counselor who is especially trained to deal with people trying to quit smoking.
Special Category: E-cigarettes
Did you really think this list would end without mentioning e-cigarettes? E-cigarettes are a little tricky to classify because these quit-smoking aids are available with or without nicotine. Many smokers use e-cigarettes to get their nicotine fix without having to deal with the tar and carbon monoxide found in regular cigarettes. Sure, it might not be the same as quitting cigarettes entirely, but it does deliver nicotine without the harmful chemicals that cigarettes bring. This is also why many smokers make the switch to e-cigarettes, whether they want to quit smoking or not.
Nicotine-free e-cigarettes still emit vapor even when they don’t contain nicotine, which may be why these are highly effective for smokers who are unusually stressed from nicotine withdrawal. For these people, nicotine-free e-cigarettes keep their hands occupied enough to resist the cravings until they subside.
E-cigarettes tend to be larger than nicotine inhalers, but the two quit-smoking aids work similarly. You’ll have to open the back of the e-cigarette and load a cartridge containing nicotine or water vapor (for nicotine-free e-cigarettes) into the small cylindrical hole. Once the back of the e-cigarette is back in place, you can start puffing on your e-cigarette. For many smokers, one of the main selling points of this quit-smoking aid is its ability to emit thick, scented clouds of vapor, which real cigarettes can’t do.
As you can see, you have a wide variety of quit-smoking aids to choose from. Whatever quit-smoking aid you choose, what’s important is that you stick it out, no matter how difficult it gets.