millions of people vow to finally kick the cigarette habit, only to watch their
optimistic expectations go up in smoke. But if they've tried and failed with
conventional smoking cessation approaches -- whether it's the use of nicotine
gum, counseling, or behavior modification -- they often look outside the
mainstream, motivated by the hope that alternative medicine might finally
deliver them from a life cluttered with cigarette packs and tarnished by
Quitting smoking is never easy. But a growing number of smoking cessation aids make it easier than ever for smokers to break their addiction to nicotine.
Research suggests that medications and nicotine replacement therapies can double and sometimes even triple the chances that a smoker will successfully quit. Some of these treatments also help to minimize weight gain while quitting -- an important plus for many smokers who want to kick the habit.
With a growing number of options available, doctors...
smokers and health-care professionals agree that the challenge of quitting
comes to smoking cessation, there's no magic bullet -- I think everyone agrees
with that," says Thomas Kiresuk, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the
Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation and former director of the Center for
Addiction and Alternative Medicine Research in Minneapolis, Minn. And while
many alternative approaches are available -- ranging from acupuncture to guided
imagery to self-hypnosis -- they're certainly no panacea, and for every smoker
they help, they may leave another one frustrated and feeling a slow burn at the
end of the day while they light up their next cigarette.
people swear by the acupuncture needles stuck in their bodies or the
nicotine-averse images implanted in their minds, crediting these unconventional
techniques with thoughts of conquering their nicotine cravings for good. But
when you examine all of the scientific research, the success stories are
interspersed with the disappointments. "There's really nothing out there
that has set itself apart as a winner in the treatment of smoking
cessation," says Kiresuk, a professor in the department of psychiatry at
the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
A Powerful Addiction
More than 50
million Americans smoke, and nearly 7 million more use smokeless tobacco. The
numbers are even higher in other parts of the globe, with worldwide statistics
showing that one out of three men and women over the age of 18 are
doubt, smoking remains a risky business. In the U.S. alone, tobacco kills more
than 440,000 people each year, according to the CDC.
experts concur that no matter how strong your will for kicking the habit, there
are some powerful, addictive forces plotting against you. Certainly, no single
smoking-cessation technique works for everyone, and the failure rate can be
discouraging, with most people quitting at least three times in the past before
finally finding a way to stop for good.