Recently, I failed in an attempt to quit smoking. This attempt lasted all of 3 weeks and 3 days. The phrase ‘the best way to quit smoking is to never start’ is something that as a non-smoker, I could not empathise with. However, the reality of the statement dawned upon me as nicotine cravings painfully engulfed most of my mornings. I intend to attempt to quit again. In my next endeavour I aim to be armed with preventative strategies based on empirical evidence researched in this current blog, whilst appealing to commenter’s to suggest alternative novel solutions which I can also implement.
An assessment of nicotine addiction by the University of Minnesota* demonstrates the complexity of smoking behaviour which makes smoking cessation problematic. Physiological dependence, psychological dependence and socio-cultural factors contribute towards maintaining a tobacco addiction. Furthermore, they suggest human genetics, early family experiences, environmental factors and societal influences combine to set an addictive cycle in motion. This implies that smoking cessation would be most successful if accompanied with a life style change.
Christakis (2008) demonstrated that whilst the proportion of the population smoking is gradually decreasing in the United States, the cluster size of smokers has remained consistent. Christakis suggested that this is due to smokers tending to quit in groups. Furthermore, concordance rates of smoking cessation were assessed between two individuals whom chose to do so together. Smoking cessation by a spouse decreased individual’s chances of smoking by 67%, whilst smoking cessation by a sibling decreased an individual’s chances of smoking by 25%. A spouse is not applicable to my situation; however I do have a brother whom also shares my desire quit smoking (eventually). Therefore, our chances of smoking cessation would be boosted if we attempted to do so together.
Hughes (2007) investigated the effectiveness of antidepressants for smoking cessation. Three logical deductions led Hughes to believe that antidepressants may help smoking cessation. Nicotine withdrawal may present with depressive symptoms or contribute towards a major depressive episode. Nicotine may have antidepressant effects that maintain smoking, and antidepressants may substitute for this effect. Finally, certain antidepressants may have a specific effect on neural pathways or receptors underlying nicotine addiction. Results suggested that antidepressants Bupropion and Nortiptyline aid long-term smoking cessation, whereas SSRI’s did not. The author then suggests that these drugs should be prescribed to any individual seeking to quit smoking. However, under current regulation these drugs are only prescribed to individual’s cessing smoking with a history of depression. I have no history of depression; therefore it is unlikely that any GP would prescribe these drugs to me.
Stead (2008) researched nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for smoking cessation. NRT seeks to replace nicotine from smoking with nicotine gained through an alternative method, thus reducing the motivation to smoke and easing the transition from smoking to complete abstinence. NRT includes nasal spray, patches, inhalers, gum and lozenges. Results suggest that all commercially available forms of NRT can increase rates of quitting by 50-70%. Therefore, in the weeks preceding my next cessation attempt, I shall purchase patches to replace the medium in which nicotine enters my body in order to increase chances of success.
Due to practical medicinal restraints I will be unable to use antidepressants for smoking cessation. However, from reviewing the literature I have devised a quit smoking strategy which should increase my chances of cessation. I will collaborate with my brother and set a date to quit smoking, whilst ensuring adequate NRT resources are available to us in the weeks preceding the date.