Medications Are Effective for Quitting Smoking

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In the U.S., 68.8% of current adult smokers want to quit for good, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since 2002, the number of former smokers exceeds the number of current smokers in the country, but there’s still work to be done, with 1 in every 5 U.S. deaths credited to tobacco.

It’s a good thing that there are cessation methods that work, according to a recent review of 267 studies involving 101,804 people published in the Cochrane Library. The study offers hope to people who want to kick the habit: it shows currently licensed medications are effective.

Currently there are three medications in the U.S. and Europe that are licensed to help smokers quit. These include nicotine-replacement therapies (NRTs) like nicotine patches, gums and inhalers; the antidepressant drug bupropion; and the drug varenicline. The goals of the medications are to curb the effects of nicotine in the brain.

(MORE: Walking Cure: Strolls Can Help Teen Smokers to Quit)

Russia and other spots in Eastern Europe also have a widely used cessation drug called cytisine that is similar to the drug varenicline.

In the review, researchers looked at the success rates of the cessation medications compared with placebos. They defined success as an individual who stopped smoking for six months or more.

Based on the findings, all the drugs were successful at improving the odds for smokers who wanted to quit. Participants were 80% more likely to quit when using a single NRT or taking bupropion compared with those using a placebo. Those using varenicline as well as an NRT had two to three times greater odds.

Participants taking only varenicline had a 50% greater likelihood of successfully quitting compared with patients taking any NRT, and they experienced similar results to patients taking any combination of two NRTs. Although all the drugs are considered low risk, the researchers say more safety information would be valuable for varenicline.

(MORE: Exercise Helps Young Smokers Quit)

“This review provides strong evidence that the three main treatments, nicotine-replacement therapy, bupropion and varenicline, can all help people to stop smoking,” said lead researcher Kate Cahill of the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford in a statement. “Although cytisine is not currently licensed for smoking cessation in most of the world, these data suggest it has potential as an effective and affordable therapy.”

The review is encouraging for anyone trying to quit. Even though smoking cessation can be extremely difficult, studies show quitting can extend lives by up to 10 years. Other nonmedication methods have also been found to help smokers stay on track to quit for good. For more information on the effects of smoking and how to quit, visit the CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers page here.

7 comments
quitsmoking
quitsmoking

There are many medications to help you quit smoking unfortunately they are expensive and some are as addictive as smoking.  If you trade one bad habit for another what did you gain.  I was a smoker for 20 years and I found a method that worked for me. Here it is.

raghav2k
raghav2k

I managed to quit smoking almost 12 years ago after having smoked for over 30 years, and am very happy for it. I used Xyban, the cessation medication then available, which was very helpful

MichaelCorum
MichaelCorum

Allen Carr's book "The Easy Way To Stop Smoking" is by FAR the best way to quit. It deals with the main problem, your mind. After you read this book you'll no longer need to tell people that kicking the habit is difficult. It costs under $20, requires no pills, and contains NO NICOTINE! 

 

BorisIII
BorisIII

The reason people can quit heroin more successfully than cigarettes is because cigarettes do not immediately ruin a persons life and heroin isn't sold at lots of stores.  Also you don't see people doing heroin all the time like you do cigarettes.  Dangers of second hand smoke has been greatly exaggerated such as if it was more dangerous up until the 80's large amounts of people would have been dying of lung cancer even though they didn't smoke, etc.  But everyone hates the smell of cigarettes and seeing people smoking makes people who quit, tempted to smoke again.  I'm s smoker and I hate smoking and look forward to working again soon and quieting.

FrederickZilch
FrederickZilch

Kicking the habit is very difficult, but it CAN be done.  Here are a few suggestions.  

There's no substitute for a sincere desire to stop smoking; all the wonderful methods and drugs available are worthless without it.

Once you decide to toss the cigs, join a group of other people with the same desire and participate.  The local chapter of The American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association are great resources to hook up with a group as well as education and referral.  Exchange survival techniques and quitting strategies.  Commiserate with other quitters without guilt - quitting tobacco is HARD, nicotine is more addictive than heroin.

I found nicotine gum very helpful, and it's probably the cheapest of all the "medical" aids.  If  used correctly, it physiologically mimics the effects of smoking very closely.  That's really important because quitters have to overcome the habituation aspect of smoking as well as the addiction.  If one drug or method doesn't work, move on to another.  

DO NOT look upon "backsliding" as failure; but rather a normal process of detoxifying and relearning.  How many times did you fall while learning to ride a bike?  The important thing is to refrain from self-loathing and despair, and climb back into the saddle.