You’ve decided you want to quit smoking. That’s a great first step. Now you may be wondering how to quit smoking. It is difficult to quit smoking on your own, but help is available to guide you through the process. One very effective option is medication assisted treatment, or MAT for tobacco cessation.
The Trend Toward Quitting
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, accounting for 480,000 premature deaths per year. However, more people are trying to quit smoking, and, in fact, most people do want to quit. The CDC says that in 2018, 61.7% of adult smokers (55 million adults) who ever smoked had quit.
Why Is It So Hard?
Nicotine is an addictive substance. Like other drugs, nicotine is difficult to give up on your own, without professional help. The addiction is both physical and mental. Smoking may give you a slight, brief euphoria as it increases your dopamine levels. That, in turn, leads to changes in other brain circuits involved in learning, stress, and self-control.
The US Surgeon General says, though, that “Smoking cessation [stopping smoking] represents the single most important step that smokers can take to enhance the length and quality of their lives.” The Surgeon General has also noted that smoking cessation is beneficial at any age, improves your health status, and enhances your quality of life. It also reduces the risk of premature death and can add as much as a decade to life expectancy.
How to Quit Smoking
The best way for most people to quit is a combination of medicine, changing your personal habits, and getting the emotional support you need to see you through. Behavioral counseling can help you make long-term changes so you can remove the tobacco from your life. Medication will help you with the physical cravings caused by the addiction.
MAT for Tobacco Cessation
While there are many over-the-counter nicotine replacement options that might be able to help you, successfully overcoming your addiction to nicotine means that you also have to address potential withdrawal symptoms and the continuing cravings. Medication assisted treatment or MAT is a very effective approach for helping you quit smoking and remain tobacco free.
Three medications are approved by the FDA as part of MAT for tobacco cessation. A nicotine inhaler and nasal spray has been proven effective but must be monitored by a medical professional who can help you taper off. Bupropion and Varenicline, also administered and monitored by a professional, are also beneficial medications for long-term success in helping you quit smoking.
Originally approved as an antidepressant, bupropion works by inhibiting the reuptake of the brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine as well as stimulating their release. Bupropion has been found to increase the success rates for people who want to quit smoking, when used as part of MAT for tobacco cessation.
The drug varenicline has been proven to reduce nicotine cravings, boosting the odds of successfully quitting. People who participate in therapy in addition to MAT for tobacco cessation, using varenicline, are more likely to remain tobacco-free for the long term.
MAT for tobacco cessation will help you overcome cravings that may occur after you do quit, but you can also take some steps to help ensure you remain nicotine-free. Smokers can find many ways to make excuses or come up with rationalizations, even when they want to quit. Focus on the benefits to your mental and physical health as you:
- Remember your reasons for quitting and think of all the benefits to your health, your finances, and your family.
- Ask your tobacco-using friends for support. Tell them to NOT share their cigarettes or tobacco with you – no matter what!
- Remind yourself that there is no such thing as just one dip or one cigarette – or even just one puff.
- Ride out the desire to smoke or chew. It will go away, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you can have just one.
- Avoid alcohol. Drinking lowers your chance of success.
- If you’re worried about weight gain, put some energy into planning a healthy diet and finding ways to exercise and stay active.
- Keep getting the counseling and support that’s helped you so far.
Contact Calming Goat for Help
Now that you’ve decided to quit and know more about how to quit smoking, contact the professional team at Calming Goat for help with quitting smoking for good. Our team of board-certified physicians is uniquely equipped to help you move forward toward long-term success. We provide the types of medication assisted treatment you need, so you can experience true healing. Call (424) 376-3444 or contact us online to schedule your appointment today.