It is hard to quit a habit as addictive as smoking, but sometimes a good dose of reality can give you the motivation you need. The statistics regarding the success, or should we say lack of success, of people who have tried to quit smoking are shocking.
Don’t fall in with the multitudes who try to quit but end up disappointing themselves and those who care about them. These stats may even spark your competitive side! Learn why smokers fail to quit and what you can do to avoid being one of them.
First off, here are some stats to keep in mind. According to a release from Public Health England, “smoking is still the biggest cause of preventable illness and premature deaths in the country – accounting for nearly 80,000 deaths in England a year. One in every two long-term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking related disease unless they quit.”
Sadly, this means that for every two smokers you see, you can safely predict that one will die of a smoking related illness before their time.
Epic stop-smoking fails
Action on Smoking and Health reports that although over a third of all smokers make at least one attempt to quit smoking in a given year, only 2-3% actually succeed.
Surveys consistently find that most smokers want to quit, but continue not to do so, not because they don’t want to, but because their addiction prevents them from stopping. In fact, 70% of smokers say they want to stop but still smoke.
Why can’t you just quit?
The nicotine in cigarettes is what makes them so addictive. Upon inhalation it begins to alter mood and concentration-related neurotransmitters, creating the sensation that smokers find enjoyable.
When you stop, the cravings can be intense. They can be a steady and constant presence, or come in short, a sharp burst of longing for a cigarette. Smokers can list a long number triggers or cues for sudden cravings, including:
- Having a few drinks
- After sex
- Having an argument
- After a meal
- Having a cup of tea or coffee
The cravings normally diminish over time, and you can modify your behaviour to try to avoid certain triggers. Remember- not being able to quit on your own does not make you weak. It simply means that your body is dependent on the nicotine and that you may need to try nicotine replacement therapy or another medical solution to help you achieve your goal.
In other words, going cold turkey could be too difficult. There are things you can do to kick start the quitting process and make it easier on your mind and body.
Prescription medicine to help you quit
When it comes to stopping smoking the biggest hurdle to get over is the cravings. The idea is to stop the physical and mental desire for a cigarette from becoming so overpowering that you give in.
The medication Champix, or varenicline, has been shown to double quitters’ success rates. Taken for 12 weeks, it is more effective than nicotine replacement or Buproprion. Champix is available by prescription only. It works by not only mimicking the action of nicotine in the body but blocking its effect.
When a person taking Champix smokes a cigarette they no longer feel the pleasurable effects of the nicotine. It is as though their cravings have abated before they even smoke, and if they do smoke it is not as satisfying as it once was.
Avoid becoming a quitter who fails
Arming yourself with knowledge is a good way to help you quit smoking for good. Once you have an understanding of why people tend to fall off the wagon you can take steps to avoid doing the same.
The NHS offers comprehensive information and advice on how to cope with cravings, and as mentioned you can consider using Champix as well. Committing to certain behavioural changes and beginning a course of medication makes a good base for someone who really wants to quit smoking for good.