With the New Year, it’s time to take stock, kick the bad habits of the past and live a healthier life. Smoking is a habit that is most harmful and should be given up sooner than later. It’s also one of the most common New Year’s resolutions made year after year. It’s important to seek help and avoid a relapse since most smokers trying to quit are not successful in their first attempt.
Cigarettes and chewable tobacco contain nicotine which makes them addictive; nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to humankind. Cigarettes deliver nicotine via the lungs to the brain within approximately 10 seconds. It is this rapid nicotine delivery that makes the cigarettes highly addictive.
While smoking/ chewing tobacco, the nicotine gets absorbed into the blood and reaches the brain, before stimulating a feeling of satisfaction or pleasure. Soon the brain seeks this feeling regularly, which making nicotine highly addictive. In the absence of nicotine, smokers experience irritability, insomnia, headaches, constipation, gas and stomach pain, among other withdrawal symptoms, making it extremely difficult to quit.
There is hope for people struggling to quit; with Nicotine Replacement Therapy, they can substitute the nicotine present in cigarettes with clean therapeutic nicotine devoid of other harmful chemicals, such as tar and carbon monoxide. NRT is the use of various forms of nicotine delivery methods, intended to replace the nicotine obtained from smoking or other tobacco usage.
Once the ex-smoker overcomes the psychosocial need to smoke, nicotine dependence is eliminated by successively reducing the dose of nicotine replacement. As a method of delivering nicotine into the bloodstream, NRT is of less dangerous to tobacco smoking. It is a World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended therapy that doubles the chances of quitting.
It is important to stay strong, focused and to support your decision to live healthier in 2011. Situations such as drinking alcohol or coffee may lead to a craving for a smoke, acting as a trigger. One should devise strategies to deal with such situations – either avoid them completely or control them appropriately. The first few weeks are the most important; once the psychological cues are gone it becomes easier to quit smoking.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy products are available in various forms, and depending on the level of addiction, a suitable form can be selected. NRT products are available globally as chewing gum, lozenges, nasal sprays, inhalers and patches; they have helped millions of users live a healthier, smoke-free life.
By Dr. Prakash Chandra Gupta, Director, Healis – Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Mumbai and member, Indian Association for Cancer Research
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