Many people make New Year's resolutions, with quitting smoking being high on the list. One of the most common questions I get from people is: "What is the best way to quit smoking?"
While there is no simple answer to this question, one thing is for certain: the greatest factor in quitting successfully is YOU. You make your quit work. The most effective quit programs will capitalize on multiple tools: a quit medication (to help take the edge off of cravings and withdrawal), coping strategies, and support.
Using an FDA approved quit medication can potentially double (if not greater) your odds of quitting. These include nicotine replacement therapy (nicotine patch, nicotine gum, nicotine lozenge, nicotine inhaler, and nicotine spray), Bupropion (Zyban, Wellbturin), and Varenicline (Chantix, Champix). But like all medications, quit medications have both benefits and side effects to their use. Also not all of these medications are available over-the-counter; some require a doctor's prescription. Regardless of over-the-counter availablity, it's a good idea to let your doctor know that you are quitting. You and your doctor can come up with an effective and tailored quit plan that will be right for you.
Choosing a quit method involves taking into consideration different factors, including:
- Cost. Some medications are more expensive than others to use. What fits into your budget? Note: although the upfront costs of quitting may seem costly, in the long run, quitting is by far less costly in terms of cost of cigarettes, health, and work time lost.
- Convenience of use. Quit methods come in a variety of forms (pill, patch, lozenge, gum), doses & frequency, and required skill of use (i.e. you have to "chew" and "park" the nicotine gum). What method seems to best fit your lifestyle? For example, if you have trouble remembering to take pills, maybe Wellbutrin or Varenicline are not the best options for you.
- Medical history. Any medical conditions that might rule out the use of a quit method (unstable high blood pressure? uncontrolled diabetes? etc.)
- Nicotine dependence/use. Do you light up regularly? Or intermittently? If you smoke regularly, you might consider using a method that provides more continual support (i.e. nicotine patch) VS a medication that can be used "as needed" (i.e. nicotine gum or nicotine lozenge).
- Interest. What are YOU interested in using? Read up on various quit methods. What appeals to you most?
Ultimately there is no perfect quit method. There is only the perfect quit method for YOU. Cheers to a happy, smoke-free New Year!
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist