Tuesday, May 13, 2008

To Use or Not to Use Medications to Stop Smoking

" I tried (...fill in the blank... the patch, the gum, Zyban, Chantix...) and it didn't work."

"How long were you off cigarettes?"

"6 months."

"Then what happened?"

"I got a divorce (or lost my job or.....some other stressful event)."

This is a typical conversation I have had with many people trying to quit smoking. The medications DID work, but the smoker needed more tools in his tool box to be successful. When the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. Medications are used to help lessen the withdrawals from nicotine or to block the receptors in the brain, so that nicotine is not as reinforcing. They do NOT relieve stress, a different tool is needed for that trigger.

If you were an early relapser, meaning quitting for less than one month, you may have been using the medication incorrectly. It is not uncommon for those using nicotine replacement products (NRP) to under dose themselves or not use enough of the medication. Or to quit using it too early.

If you were a late relapser, it was probably not because of using the medication but from stress, thinking that smoking "just one" won't hurt, being around other smokers, drinking or using other substances, or gaining weight.

So if you have quit before but relapsed, don't blame the medication, look to see what additional tools you need to learn to be successful.

Tell me what your experience has been with medications to quit. Maybe you just need to try again, this time with a little more knowledge and you will be successful.

No comments: