No matter how long you’ve been a smoker, it’s never to late to quit. The health benefits of smoking cessation begin almost immediately, and after a certain period of time, even your risk of lung cancer returns to that of a person who never smoked. However, most smokers already know the health facts about smoking, and they are well acquainted with the expense involved in this habit. What often undermines their efforts are their concerns about the process of quitting itself: how to stop smoking cravings, the uncomfortable side effects of nicotine withdrawal, possible weight gain, and other negative experiences on the way to quitting. But you can get help in how to stop smoking, both from local resources and support groups, and from a host of online forums and information sources.
A Look at the Benefits
As a reminder, let’s take a look at the solid health benefits of smoking cessation. According to the 1990 Surgeon General’s report, smokers have a twenty times higher risk of lung cancer than non-smokers, but with cessation, that risk declines steadily. Ten years after quitting, this risk is reduced by 30% to 50%, compared with those who continue to smoke. The risk of heart disease, doubled among smokers, reduces by half after just one year after quitting, and after 15 years of abstinence, resembles that of someone who has never smoked. As you look for how to help stop smoking for yourself or a loved one, remember that lung cancer and heart disease are the two top killers in America; reducing your risk for these diseases can be a huge step toward a longer, healthier life!
Help for How to Stop Smoking
Some smokers associate quitting with going cold turkey—along with all the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms attached to that image. But there are other alternatives for those who need a bit of help for how to stop smoking. Drug replacement therapies using nicotine gum, patches, or nasal sprays, when used in combination with counseling or behavioral changes that address the psychological aspects of nicotine addiction, have been proven effective for many smokers. Non-nicotine drugs like bupropion (“Zyban”) or varenicline (“Chantix“) have been approved by the FDA for those who are learning how to help stop smoking. While these substances can help address the physiological symptoms of nicotine addiction, counseling, a support group, and understanding friends and family members may also be needed to help the smoker make the lifestyle and habit changes needed to deal with the emotional and psychological effects of quitting.