In just 10 seconds you are on an instant high! That’s the time nicotine takes to reach your brain and provide the instant pleasure you were craving for. While the nicotine in cigarettes provides this instant kick the other 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, many of which are known carcinogens,cause much harm to the body. It is no surprise that nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to man. When smokers attempt to quit, their brain seeks the satisfactory feeling that nicotine provides, resulting in nicotine withdrawals symptoms.
Despite so many harmful effects of tobacco on health, people are unable to kick the habit easily even though they want to and even try. When a tobacco user suddenly stops he experiences severe withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anxiety, dysphoria, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, impatience, tiredness, decreased heart rate and increased appetite and weight gain. Users are known to relapse as they are unable to deal with these withdrawal symptoms. Studies have shown that an average smoker attempts to quit at least seven to eight times before finally succeeding. This is where Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) comes in to support smokers and double their chances of successfully quitting.
While willpower and commitment are essential to quit smoking, sometimes they might not be sufficient due to strong nicotine cravings that the body experiences upon quitting. NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) helps an individual beat these cravings by substituting some of the nicotine obtained from cigarettes with therapeutic clean nicotine. An alternate nicotine delivery method such as nicotine chewing gum, patches or inhaler is used to enable the smoker to deal with his cravings. NRT products are safe and effective, they do not contain all the other harmful chemicals present in cigarette smoke like tar, carbon monoxide, ammonia etc.
NRT is a WHO recommended therapy that is known to doubles the smoker’s chances of quitting. Depending on the level of addiction a suitable form or a combination of forms needs to be selected. Once the ex-smoker overcomes the psychosocial need to smoke, nicotine dependence is eliminated by successively reducing the dose of nicotine replacement.
Support from friends and family plays a very important role through this quitting process. Once the decision has been made it’s a good idea to inform your friends and family and seek their support since their encouragement goes a long way to provide motivation and incentive. Counselling and seeking help from a healthcare professional can also make the quitting process easier.
It is important to identify the triggers for smoking and stay away from them through the quitting process. These triggers could be in the form of alcohol or coffee or anything else that is associated with smoking. The first few weeks are most important in one’s effort to quit and this is when the relapse rates are highest. By carefully planning your quit attempt, getting support from friends and family and using an NRT(Nicotine Replacement Therapy) product you can greatly increase your chances of succeeding and taking the first step to your fitness and a healthier lifestyle.
By-Dr. Prakash Chandra Gupta, Director, Healis – Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Mumbai and Visiting Scientist, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston
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