I know that you are already familiar with all the negatives side effects, health risks and how smoking can cost you a fortune.
I am not here to patronize you by telling you what you already know because these are not the problems of quitting.
If you wish to find out more about the side effects of quitting, health risks of smoking, etc., I have included some useful links below.
Instead, look at this post as an extensive guide on how to quit smoking effectively without all the fluff.
Certain health establishments pledge that the only way to quit effectively is through Nicotine Replacement Therapy. This is absolutely not true.
The success rates for Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is only at a mere 7-8% which is oddly low given that health establishments are still fervently promoting these treatments today – both online and offline.
We are unique beings. What works for John, Amy and Tom may not work for you and vice versa.
There is no one way to quit. You will find out later with proofs and details.
Ways to Quit
|E-Cigarettes / Vaping||18 % Quit-rate||Est. $630 per year|
|Cognitive Behavioral Therapy||11.5 % Reduction-rate||$22-212 per session|
|Hypnosis / Hypnotherapy||50-65 % Quit-rate||$75-125 per session|
|Nicotine Replacement Therapy||6.8-7.9 % Quit-rate||$35 for gums, $42 for patches|
|Cold-Turkey / Willpower||Around 5 % Quit-rate||No Cost (Free)|
|Non-nicotine Medications||14-18 % Quit-rate||$267 for Zyban, $448 for Chantix|
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe
The first and biggest step you can invest today is to change your philosophy about smoking.
In other words, sharpen your ax first.
It is, has been, and always will be about having the right mindset and philosophy when it comes to quitting.
When you changed your mindset, the odds of quitting will be exponentially higher. More importantly, quitting will be much more enjoyable regardless of the method(s) you use.
I do not blame you if you think you know a lot about smoking already. Most of us have been indoctrinated our entire lives to think that we know a lot about smoking… especially smokers.
I can say with conviction that:If smokers know the whole truth about smoking; most wouldn't be smoking today. Click To Tweet
The path to nicotine addiction usually starts at a very young age. 90% of adult smokers smoked their very first cigarette below the age of 18.
I lighted my first cigarette when I was 12-year-old. The reason why I lighted it was that I wanted to look cool and different among my peers. It was my way of rebelling and my way of showing independence.
That was it! Never in my worst nightmare did I imagined that I will be hooked for so many years. NEVER!
So why did I continue to smoke 10 years later when I have complete independence and when I did not have to ‘look cool’ by lighting up a cigarette in front of others?
Simply, I was addicted to nicotine.
The first step to quitting is to understand that smoking is not a habit. It is a DRUG ADDICTION.
Nicotine is the most addictive drug in this world due to its velocity. It takes only one cigarette to get a person hooked.
Many believe that they will never be hooked, this is why it is so difficult to advise them NOT to light up that first cigarette in the first place.All smokers wish they never started. Yet they all wish to continue. Click To Tweet
The bad news is once we are hooked, we believe that cigarette gives us a noticeable high, a good feeling or a euphoria.
I even had names for my cigarettes. These were three common ones:
- Energy bar
- Relaxation kit
- Social stick
First, I believed that I will never be hooked. Second, once I was hooked, I told myself lies to justify my needs for smoking.
If I believe in the notion that smoking gives me more energy, helps me to relax or increase my socialization do you honestly think I would willingly stop smoking despite knowing the many disadvantages on my health, finances or whatever? Definitely not!
Even if I were able to stop (usually just temporary), continuing to believe in this notion alone would guarantee that I will be a miserable man as long as I am not able to smoke because I thought I gave up a ‘pleasurable habit.’
No one in the right mind would be willing to give up on something that makes them feel good. If they do manage to use up all of their willpower to go cold-turkey, chances are, it is only temporary.
Depriving yourself on something you think is enjoyable is one of the worst feelings you can ever experience in life.
It is no wonder why people who go cold-turkey without any aid or help whatsoever have a mere success rate of 5-7% according to this source.
Nicotine withdrawal is very minimum that we often fail to notice it. It is just a mild empty feeling. But the smoker has to light up again and again to satisfy this empty feeling.
Just because it is mild doesn’t mean it isn’t deadly. In fact, the more subtle it is, the more dangerous the trap. This trap has caused more than 450,000 deaths in the US every single year.
This empty feeling has silently killed more people than all the wars in our history combined.
You don’t decide to fall into a trap, but traps are designed to ensure you remain in them.
To tell smokers that smoking is NOT a habit but a drug addiction is one of the most challenging tasks because no one likes to look at him or herself as an addict.
However, if we want to make a lasting change, we first have to accept the fact that we are addicted. If we keep telling ourselves lies; we cannot move forward.
I understand that some of you are afraid of the fact that you are addicted but there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of.
Nicotine gets us hooked very quickly but it also leaves our body very quickly.
Take a look at this smoking timeline:
After you stop smoking, it takes only 8 hours to eliminate over 90% of nicotine in your body.
Smoking does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The reason why we smoke is to feed our little addiction. Nothing else.
Smoking DOES NOT help us to:
- Socialize better
- Think better
- Sleep better
- Handle stress better
On the contrary, smoking makes all of the above worst.
Allen Carr described smoking with a perfect analogy:The whole business of smoking is like forcing yourself to wear tight shoes just to get the pleasure of taking them off. - Allen Carr Click To Tweet
If you wish to find out more about the truth and philosophy of smoking, I highly recommend you to read Allen Carr’s book.
The reason why we associate smoking with ‘feeling good’ is because of nicotine withdrawal. This withdrawal gives us a slight feeling of emptiness so every time we light up a cigarette we feel a little better.
This is how we perceive smoking:
This is the truth about smoking:
Smoking is a chain reaction. It all started off with your first cigarette. In order to stop smoking, you need to break the chain; not ‘feed’ it by lighting your next cigarette.
If we continue to associate smoking with ‘feeling good’, we will never truly quit for good or we will never truly break the chain.
The act of smoking does NOT give us any real pleasure
I hope by now you understand that cigarette is NOT the source of pleasure but the main source of the problem. All you are doing is to satisfy the previous withdrawal.
Drill this into your head because if you truly understand this then you have already won more than half the battle. More importantly, you will find quitting to be extremely pleasurable regardless of what method(s) you use to quit later.
This is the real pleasure I am talking about. Take a look at some of the health benefits of quitting below:
Success rate: 18% according to NEJM and Harvard Health Publishing
Estimated Price: $630.00 per year (around $480.00 for a year supply of e-liquids and roughly $150.00 for a starter kit) – reference from this source.
Electronic Cigarettes are NOT an approved method by the FDA for smoke cessation aid.
The whole idea of e-cigarette is to mimic traditional cigarettes without the burning of tobacco.
I was debating if I should include this method because e-cigarette is extremely controversial and studies about it are still inconclusive.
Some swear by it and some are totally against it.
Know this, researchers and doctors have yet to find substantial evidence on the effects of long term vaping (vaping is a term often used to describe users of electronic cigarettes). There are still a lot of studies yet to be done.
With all the rah-rah going on lately, I feel there is a need to voice out my own humble opinion in regard to this particular method.
The New England Journal of Medicine did a comparison between the success rate of e-cigarettes and NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) and the results are as such:
- 18% of e-cigarette users had stopped smoking combustible cigarettes VS only 10% using Nicotine Replacement Therapy.
- Among quitters, 80% of e-cigarette users carry on vaping VS only 9% Nicotine replacement users who continue using NRT’s products.
- Cough and phlegm dropped more in those assigned to e-cigarettes VS NRT.
- Of the initial 18% quitters assigned to e-cigarettes, more than 80% continued to smoke combustible cigarettes a year later.
The conclusion of this study is that the use of e-cigarette works in the short term but NOT in the long term for most people. Long term is equivalent to 1 year based on this study.
Vaping has contributed to 80% higher quit rates in the initial phase, but it did significantly worst a year later.
E-cigarettes are dubbed to be extremely ‘safe’ and an effective smoke cessation aid by the manufacturers.
Once promoted as a smoke cessation aid to long term traditional smokers is now a hot trend among teens, youths and young adults. Today, the use of e-cigarettes is at a record high.
Though it is commonly referred to as vaping, it does not produce vapor. It produces aerosol.
Why is this important to know?
Vapor is simply a substance in gas form whereas aerosol from electronic cigarettes contains small toxic particles from the liquid solution. In many cases, e-cigarettes also contain harmful metals from the heating coil found in the device.
Previous studies done by Healthline conclude that when the liquid chemicals heat up they can cause irritation and inflammation to the lungs when inhaled through the device.
It is true that e-cigarettes do not burn like traditional cigarettes do but the act of heating the liquid chemicals can cause the formation of formaldehyde and other cancer-causing chemicals that are harmful to us.
This is bad news.
It is common to see a connection between the dual use of nicotine products (vaping and smoking). A study done in 2015 by Truth Initiative shows that around 60% of e-cigarette users are also smoking combustible cigarettes.
Another study done by Truth Initiative found that 63% of the users DO NOT KNOW that e-cigarettes contain nicotine.
The Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences has made a discovery of lab and animal studies on January 2018 assessing how the content present in e-cigarettes can damage DNA.
There are several more interesting studies that I do not want to bore you with here. I’ll publish those studies in another post.
Now, the good news.
If you are comparing the harmful content found in electronic cigarettes VS traditional cigarettes then e-cigarettes will be ‘healthier‘ than its counterpart.
It is like comparing the alcohol content between Jägermeister (35%) VS Bacardi (75.5%). If you must pick one of the two for an alcoholic to drink, say 5 shots, which one would you suggest him/her drink?
This is the case for many health establishments when debating the use of e-cigarettes. We do not give them many options, do we?
A study done by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) concludes that vaping can benefit smokers as long as they substitute the use of all nicotine and tobacco products.
At this point, I have to highlight that the CDC also emphasizes that vaping is UNSAFE for non-tobacco users.
It makes absolute sense because if given a choice between a not-so-harmful option and a very-harmful option, it would be wise to pick the less-harmful one.
Several studies according to BMJ have found that vaping can actually help some smokers to quit.
The only reason this method is here is that some people found success with vaping. If some people can find success with e-cigarette then I choose to believe that some – hopefully, more – people will succeed with this method in the future.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a more sophisticated way of saying problem-solving therapy.
This therapy may also work for people who are looking for a serious relationship, people who are suffering from depression and/or other addictions.
If you plan to take this route, I would recommend you to look for a therapist that specializes in smoke-cessation rather than a generalist.
You will take on an active role in your own CBT treatment. This requires you to work closely with your therapist. Both of you will be working as a team and collaborating to solve problems together.
Don’t be one of those who go into therapy hoping that your therapist would fix all of your problems. CBT is not a magic pill. It is merely to help you take on challenges with better clarity and focus.
CBT is a time-limited therapy, meaning you can cease treatment whenever you feel you are confident enough to take on the challenges ahead without the help of your therapist.
On average, CBT takes around 8-12 weeks. It may also last more than 6 months depending on severity but it is generally shorter in comparison to traditional talk therapy which may take years with no end in sight.
Like other smoke-cessation methods, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy comes with advantages and disadvantages.
According to the ‘success’ rate of 11.5% smoke reduction (not quit) I mentioned earlier, you may find yourself smoking lesser after this treatment (I am not being sarcastic – smoking lesser is still a win. Don’t you agree?).
Other advantages may include increased confidence in facing life challenges (not just quitting) and heightened insight into your overall life.
The obvious disadvantage is, cost! CBT treatments can be over the roof if your insurance isn’t covering the bills for you.
If you have deep pockets and do not mind investing in the cost with a chance of 11.5% smoke reduction, go for it!
Like other treatments, CBT is not for everyone. There’s no one way to quit!
Important facts about hypnotherapy:
- There is not enough evidence to support the effectiveness on the use of hypnosis as of yet
- Hypnotherapy (for smoke cessation) is not an approved therapy by the American Medical Association according to WebMD
- 25% of the population are not able to be hypnotized
- A lot of frauds and false representations
I wanted to find out in-depth about Hypnotherapy so I signed myself up to a course that offers me a certification to be a ‘certified’ smoke-cessation hypnotherapist in May of 2019.
To my horror, the course begins by focusing on how much money I could be making. Nothing wrong with making money but that should NOT be our first priority in assisting people who are in desperate need for help. To put it bluntly, it is exploiting!
The fact that my instructor focuses on making money first made me bias and cautious towards this whole endeavor.
I know it is not fair to have such a judgment based on just one bad experience. But it is what it is.
This also probably explains why there are a lot of frauds and false representations out there.
Do not trust testimonials you see online and be extremely wary of big claims such as ‘90% quit rate in one session.’ If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
There will be no swinging of pocket watch in front of you. Hypnosis is all about having the right focus.
Hypnosis itself is a trance or sleep-like state in which suggestions can be offered to you without your resistance. Entering a hypnotic trance is a very deep state of altered awareness.
At this point, it is important for you to know that professional hypnotherapists will not make you do things you do not want to do.
Hypnotherapy can be effective in helping you accept suggestions that you have a desire to accept.
Look at it this way, if you have a burning desire to be a non-smoker then hypnosis can amplify, magnify and/or intensify that desire.
If you do not have the desire or intention to be a non-smoker then the chances of this treatment working for you will be close to none.
A smoke cessation therapist should be performed by a certified or licensed individual who has undergone special training in hypnosis.
Do not go to any Tom, Dick, Mary, or Harry you see on the internet. Today anyone can be ‘certified’ hypnosis by spending a few hundred dollars on a course.
Here are three professional groups who can put you in touch with authorized hypnotherapy in your locality:
- Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis
- American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists
- American Society of Clinical Hypnosis
Hypnosis will no doubt be a costly treatment so it’d be wise to have the right frame of mind before deciding to invest in it.
Hypnosis cannot make you quit if you don’t want to.
If you have the desire to quit, you can and will quit with or without the help of hypnosis.
As with other methods, the chances of you becoming a non-smoker will be exponentially higher when you first invest in your mindset. Sharpen your ax before chopping the tree.
I am not against hypnosis per se. Nevertheless, I am very against people trying to exploit or take advantage of others – especially those in desperate needs – for the sake of their own gains.
Two of the most common replacement therapy are Nicotine Patches & Gums.
(Estimated Success Rate)
Nicotine Patches: 6.8%
Nicotine Gums: 7.9%
Estimated Cost: $42 for 14 patches or $35 for 96 pieces of gum
Other NRT includes:
- Nasal spray
Data is accurate at the time of writing according to this source.
Why health establishment continues to prescribe this treatment so fervently completely eludes me.
Nicotine replacement therapy is not only expensive but also has a pretty low success rate.
We are dealing with nicotine addiction and health establishment argues that the best way to beat this addiction is by pumping nicotine (and a more expensive one) into our bloodstreams.
If that makes sense to you then we should also sell Rums Lozenges or Whisky Gums to alcoholics who are trying to quit drinking. Wow, that isn’t too shabby at all.
Nicotine replacement therapy works… albeit for about 7% of the people trying to quit. It does not work for everybody.
There is no one way to quit! If you ever hear anyone tells you that this is the only way to quit; punch them squarely in the nose. I’m kidding… but seriously.
It is crucial that you understand the dangers of nicotine before deciding to take up this method.
My advice is to steer clear from NRT (especially if this is your first time quitting) and try out other options first.
It is imperative to consult your local health care providers if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
You should also seek professional advice from your local health provider if you have a history of:
- irregular heartbeat
- stomach ulcers
- heart disease
- recent heart attack
- high blood pressure that is not controlled with medicine
- prescribed medication to help you quit smoking
Cease NRT completely and seek professional help if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- extreme lethargic
- irregular heartbeat
- swelling of the skin around the patch that does not go away
If you ultimately decide to take this route, here are the best-sellers out there. I recommend that you start off and stick with these brands throughout your NRT:
*Prices are accurate at the time of writing
Success rate: Around 5% – According to Nicola Lindson-Hawley (PhD), University of Oxford’s addictions specialist and lead author of the study.
What is Cold Turkey? It simply means quitting without any external aid or help.
The only thing you need with this method is your Mental Strength (or commonly known as Willpower).
Cold turkey is by far the most common way of quitting. It has been estimated that about 90% of people who try to quit do it without any support.
I had gone cold turkey more times than I can count – I was at 15 cigarettes per day average – I failed for an entire decade trying out this method alone. It works for a little while but it was NEVER long term for me.
The many times when I deprived myself of smoking were times when I was most depressed. I went cold turkey with the belief that I was ‘giving up’ something pleasurable. I envied my friends who allowed themselves to smoke.
That was the bad news.
The good news is… I manage to quit by going cold turkey too. What?
I’ll explain shortly.
You need to know that I would NEVER recommend you to go cold turkey without first changing your philosophy and mindset about smoking.
If you still believe in the lies that smoking is pleasurable then my advice to you is to DO NOT go cold turkey yet. Otherwise, you will experience a lot of undue mental struggles that will probably lead to depression by choosing this route.
You are vulnerable when you are depressed. Chances are you will return to puffing (usually sooner than later). You will hate yourself more for your ‘lack of willpower’ and the whole shit-cycle begins again.
Earlier, I emphasized the importance of sharpening your ax first. I don’t say it for the sake of saying, it is crucial! If you do not have the right mindset, then regardless of the method(s) you use, you will find quitting to be a struggle instead of it being enjoyable.
And if you do not find something to be enjoyable; you will not do it for long.
This is just basic human fact, to stop smoking is not rocket science.
Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.
If you truly understand that there is absolutely nothing pleasurable about smoking, you will have a huge desire NOT to smoke. And if you combine this desire with your willpower then the chances of you quitting will be exponentially higher.
I am just going to list two smoke cessation medications that do not contain nicotine and were approved by the FDA. They are:
Estimated Success Rates:
*They both come in tablet form and are available by prescription only.
I am not a big fan of medication, to say the least.
When I fall sick, I will just take plenty of rest and drink plenty of water. This usually does the trick. If not, then I’ll see the doctor. The good news is, I haven’t seen the doctor for close to 6 years now. I practiced what I preached and make medication my last resort.
Human bodies are the most complex and marvelous bodies on the entire planet. With proper rest and diet, our bodies can literally heal itself expeditiously.
Today, our generations are constantly looking for quick fixes. We usually trade short term gains at the expense of long term benefits. We have to admit this is who we are today.
Take antibodies for example. There is no need for doctors to prescribe antibodies so leisurely. Why prescribe to one who is just having flu that is not life threatening? Antibodies may fight harmful bacterial infection but they also kill off good bacteria.
In the long term, it does our bodies more harm than good.
I am not anti-antibodies. In fact, antibodies had saved so many lives and I am truly grateful for the invention. However, I am ANTI short term gains over long term benefits.
How Chantix Works
Chantix is a medication that was specifically designed to help people to quit smoking. It is a nicotine-free medication that requires a prescription. It works in two distinct ways. First, it works by partially activating the nicotine acetylcholine receptors in the brain. These receptors are affected by nicotine. So, by providing minor effects that resemble nicotine, it eases the nicotine withdrawal symptoms for smokers who are new to quitting. And, second, it works by preventing the attachment of the nicotine to the receptors if smoking occurs while it is being used.
All medications have side effects. But, generally, they are prescribed because physicians feel as though the benefit to the patient is greater than the risk of the side effects. While many people who take this medication do not experience all of these side effects, they can still occur. The following is a list of the side effects, some that are more serious than others, that could occur from taking this drug:
- Unusual dreams
- Trouble sleeping
- Changes in taste
- Abnormal pain in the legs while walking
- Burning sensation in feet or toes
- Symptoms of a stroke
- Signs of a heart attack
- Mood or mental changes
- Suicidal or depression thoughts
- Thoughts about committing harm to others, self or property
- Other strange behavior or thoughts
- Allergic reaction
It should be noted that this list is not comprehensive. Other side effects could present themselves while taking this medication.
Chantix Safety and Precautions
It is imperative that all allergies are reported, especially if one of them is to this medication. If a medical history of mood or mental disorders, kidney disease, seizures or heart disease exists, then it needs to be reported as well. While taking this medication, participation in activities that require alertness should not occur until they can be performed safely. Such activities include driving, using machinery or anything else that requires focus and attention.
Marijuana and alcohol can intensify the side effects of this medication. It should not be taken during pregnancy unless absolutely necessary. Plus, breastfeeding may not be a viable option since it is not known whether this medication can enter breast milk.
Initially, generic buproprion hydrochloride was introduced as an antidepressant. Now, Zyban, which is the brand name for buproprion hydrochloride, is a nicotine-free medication that aids in the cessation of smoking. It requires a prescription. Although the intricacies of this medication are not fully understood, what is known is that nicotine becomes less effective due to its altering the chemistry of the brain. And, such an alteration leads to a decreased interest in smoking, as well as significantly reduced nicotine cravings and withdrawals.
Zyban Common Side Effects
Generally, physicians prescribe medications because their benefits outweigh their potential for harm. However, every medication has side effects. Some of these side effects are experienced by people more so than others. It should be noted that the following list of side effects for this medication is not exhaustive:
- Blurred vision
- Increased sweating
- Dryness of the mouth
- Trouble sleeping
- Stomach pain
- Abnormal taste in the mouth
- Elevated blood pressure
- Muscle aches
- Abnormal weight gain or loss
- Irregular heartbeat
- Pounding or fast heartbeat
- Ringing in the ears
- Chest pain
- Mood changes
- Tremors (movements that cannot be controlled)
- Muscle weakness, pain or tenderness
- Eye pain (redness and swelling)
- Dilated pupils
- Changes in vision
- Allergic reaction
- The appearance of an empty tablet shell in stool
Zyban Safety and Precautions
If a medical history of heart disease, diabetes, seizures, mood disorders, kidney problems, high blood pressure, drug or alcohol dependence, liver problems or a family or personal history of glaucoma exists, then it needs to be reported. Regular usage of sedatives also needs to be reported. All allergies need to be reported, especially if one of them is to this medication.
Marijuana and alcohol can intensify the side effects of this medication. While taking this drug, the consumption of alcohol should not occur since doing so could lead to an increased risk of seizures. Operating machinery, driving and other activities that require alertness need to be avoided while taking it. However, these activities can be resumed once they can be safely performed again.
It should not be taken with other medications that contain buproprion. Seizures are more prone to happen as a result of taking large quantities of buproprion.
This drug should not be taken during pregnancy unless a strong need for it is warranted. If taken during pregnancy, then it should be taken in conjunction with a smoking cessation education and behavioral therapy platform. Also, since this medication can enter breast milk while breastfeeding, it could have an adverse effect on the baby.
It should also be noted that older adults may be more susceptible to the side effects of dizziness and memory loss. There is an increased risk of falling due to dizziness.
It is true that there is NO one exact way to quit as we are all wired differently. You can also mix or combine one or more of these methods to help you quit successfully.
But the most important step you can take today is to invest in your mindset about quitting – I cannot stress the importance of this enough.
Stop believing in the lies that smoking gives you pleasure when the fact is that it gives you ABSOLUTELY NOTHING… but trouble.
To get over nicotine withdrawal is easy. Everyone does it.
The biggest challenge is the fight going on in your mind.Getting through nicotine withdrawal is EASY; the battle in your mind is not. Click To Tweet
If you carry on to believe that you are depriving yourself of an ‘enjoyment’ you will not be a non-smoker for long.
If you envy smokers instead of pitying them, chances are, you will relapse more times than you initially thought possible.
All the methods I shared above will probably NOT work when you don’t first change your mindset about smoking.
You can use all the willpower you want until you are blue in the face or stick nicotine patches all over your body until you have rashes but guess what? You are still ultimately depriving yourself of an ‘enjoyment.’
I know you wouldn’t believe me when I say this but I’d rather you carry on smoking than to ‘torture’ yourself by ‘deprivation.’ It is one of the worst feelings you could possibly experience and people literally go crazy and harm themselves physically or/and mentally when they believe they are depriving themselves of something.
Depression and suicide are not uncommon too.
So until you invest in your mindset, I’d say keep smoking.
Once the battle in your mind is done, the rest is child’s play. Use the cheat below to help you quit easier.
I’m going to end by asking you to share this article with your loved ones whom you think might benefit from reading.
Thanks for the time.
I hope I have been of service.