Tobacco is the most preventable cause of death in the United States. An estimated 443,000 people prematurely die from smoking cigarettes. It also causes serious illnesses, such as Coronary heart disease, lung cancer, and oral cancer. 46.6 million Americans continue to smoke despite their knowledge of these risks (CDC). How hard is it to quit smoking? Nicotine is in fact one of the most addicting substances in society. Some people say it is extremely difficult. There are many different ways to quit smoking. The most effect yet, most difficult way is complete abstinence from smoking. Other alternatives include, nicotine gum or patches, medication and e-cigarettes.
In order to quit smoking one must understand addiction of nicotine and how it affects the body. The human brain has tiny neurotransmitters called dopamine. “Dopamine is the brain’s primary motivation neurotransmitter (Polito). “ For example, when you are hungry or thirsty and you finally find time to eat or quench your thirst, that overwhelming, satisfactory sensation is caused by the flow of dopamine released from the brain. Nicotine is an external chemical that passes through the blood/brain barrier that stimulates dopamine. Once there is that chemical dependency on nicotine in order for your brain to release dopamine, it becomes and addiction. There are 4 steps in this addiction cycle. First, a person’s blood nicotine level falls. Second, the brain generates a craving by building up and restricting the flow of dopamine. Third, one inhales new nicotine. Fourth, the brain releases dopamine and the cycle continues. Now that one can fully understand the effects of nicotine, the next step can be taken.
“Cold Turkey,” the common term used by smokers, means complete abstinence from smoking. To start the quitting process one must first set a date to quit. One should remove all tobacco products from their persona, house, and vehicle. Then they should tell their friends and family that they are quitting. Also, it is wise to inform their smoking buddies to not smoke around them or offer them any cigarettes. This completes the start process. In the first five days of not smoking, the number of cravings can reach up to 8 cravings. It is tough to power through. However, there is hope. There is something called, “The 5 D’s to Quitting Smoking.” The first is “Delay (CoxHealth).” Cravings only last to a maximum number of three minutes per craving. If the smoker can set a timer and wait three minutes the craving will, in fact, go away. However, it will probably feel like the longest three minutes of their life. The second is ,“Distract yourself (CoxHealth).”
If the smoker can direct their attention to something else during their craving, they will have a greater chance of fighting their withdrawals. Perhaps playing a sport, running, or watching television can help distract them from their mental obsession. The third “D” is, “Drink water (CoxHealth).” Staying hydrated is essential to fight cravings. Water is good for the body and helps ease the physical withdrawals. The fourth is, “Deep breathes (CoxHealth).” This refers to meditation and breathing exercises, such as circular breathing. Circular breathing is where one inhales for three seconds, holds their breath for 3 seconds, exhales for three seconds, and then holding that for 3 seconds before inhaling again. The last “D” is, “ Discuss your feelings (CoxHealth).” These are the fundamental principles to quitting smoking cold turkey. However, there are other ways to quit smoking.
Nicotine gum and nicotine patches seem to work just as well as cold turkey. It is a substitute, but it does help stop the habit of inhaling harmful smoke into the lungs. When prescribed these, “Crutches,” there is a set of instructions that the smoker should follow. They start at a high milligram dosage, then every week the doses become smaller and smaller. It is effective but extremely expensive.
Medication can also be prescribed buy doctors. Scientists have come up with a special pill that makes a person sick from smoking a cigarette. It’s a form of negative reinforcement that makes a person not want to smoke because it makes them sick. This is probably not the best way to quit because is extremely expensive. Quitting this way does not yield a long-term effect. It is only a temporary means to completely quit smoking. Electronic cigarettes are not as expensive but it is still a substitute. These e-cigarettes do tend to break easily and the cartridges need to be replaced every so often, which may become expensive over a long period of time. There is an atomizer in their products the shoot liquid nicotine into the lungs via water vapor. This is not very harmful yet the nicotine addiction remains.
When smoking these e-cigarettes there is no real plan to quit. Instead it is just to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Smoking is by far the worst and hardest habit to stop. It is expensive and creates harmful repercussions. Cold turkey is probably the best way to quit due to the fact that it is natural and inexpensive. However, it is not the only way to stop smoking. Alternatives like nicotine gum and patches, medication, and electronic cigarettes effectively stop the habit of smoking. In retrospect these seem to be temporary unless following a solid plan to completely stop. There can be no definite way to stop smoking. The choice is still always up to the person who wants to quit smoking, where will power plays an important role to smashing this horrible habit completely.
CDC. “Tobacco Use.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Nov. 2012. Web. 22 Feb. 2014. CoxHealth. “The 5 Ds to Quitting Smoking.” CoxHealth. CoxHealth, n.d. Web. Polito, John R. “Tobacco Company Deception Aboutchemical Addiction to Nicotine.”Nicotine Addiction 101. Nicotine Cessation Educator, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2014. “Using the Nicotine Patch, Nicotine Gum, Nicotine Nasal Spray or Nicotine Inhaler.” – American Family Physician. N.p., 1 June 2001. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. Nordqvist, Christian. “Electronic Cigarettes Can Harm The Lungs.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 3 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.