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At Last, Quit Smoking for Good

7 tips for quitting cigarettes -- no matter how many times you’ve tried before.

4. Try Nicotine Replacements

“Nicotine replacements are medications that reduce a person’s craving for smoking,” says Neil Schachter, MD. Schachter is professor of pulmonary medicine and medical director of the respiratory care department at Mount Sinai Center in New York. Nicotine replacement treatments (NRT), he says, include nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, and lozenges.

The replacement therapy works by putting nicotine in your system without the buzz that comes with smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy does not provide the same sensation as a cigarette. However, the treatments supply enough nicotine to halt withdrawal symptoms.

Chances for success are higher for those who use stop smoking aids, Schachter says. “Up to 50% of people who use nicotine replacement will stop smoking.”

Schachter recommends combining nicotine replacement products with other stop smoking measures. This may include group therapy or smoking cessation groups. “Once former smokers have gotten away from cigarettes, they can be weaned off the amount of nicotine in the replacement medication.”

If you want to try over-the-counter nicotine replacements, Schachter suggests getting professional advice first. Talk with your doctor or a support group. You can call the American Lung Association or the American Cancer Society to find out more and locate a group near you.

5. Ask About Drugs Approved by the FDA for Helping Smokers Quit

Schachter says there are two approved drugs available that can help people quit smoking. The first is Zyban. It’s also known as the antidepressant Wellbutrin. Zyban helps some people quit smoking by reducing nicotine cravings. It may also curb your appetite.

Schachter tells WebMD that Zyban was first used in inpatient psychiatric services. “Doctors noticed that patients with anxiety and depression who took Wellbutrin were able to quit smoking.” Today, Zyban is approved by the FDA as a prescription drug for smoking cessation.

Another prescription drug is Chantix. “It works indirectly on the metabolism of nicotine,” Schachter says. This helps overcome the chemical dependency. Chantix blocks the pleasant effects nicotine has on the brain.

Both drugs have a "black box" label warning indicating the most serious type of warning in prescription drug labeling. The warning includes reports on symptoms such as changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicidal thoughts (thinking about harming or killing oneself or planning or trying to do so) while taking either of these medications to stop smoking.

6. Know Why You Crave Cigarettes

If you are a smoker and have tried to quit before, you may feel guilty now. That’s especially true for people with illnesses such as COPD or heart disease. Schachter says you may be embarrassed by your failure to stop smoking and worry that others are judging you. Schachter also says, though, stop worrying. “Smokers are not self-destructive, lazy, or unmotivated,” he says. The cycle of quitting and then going back to smoking, he tells WebMD, is due to the powerful addiction which creates strong cravings for cigarettes. Smoking again after stopping is not a reflection on the character of the person trying to quit.

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Managing COPD: Have you quit smoking?