Each episode in this series will look into different facts about quitting cigarettes and debunk some of the myths. We will also indulge in some of the many different strategies proven to help our mob quit. This episode focuses on the nature of addiction, physical aspect of addiction and some of the ways to overcome nicotine cravings. So let’s begin on our new journey to “kick the butt”.
When quitting the smokes remember the 3 A’s!
You will need to work on overcoming all 3 A’s or aspects of addiction if you want to increase your chance to quit smoking. These include:
- PHYSICAL – the brain’s physical addiction to the chemical nicotine
- HABITUAL – the mind’s obsession with the ritual of smoking
- EMOTIONAL – the minds association with the feelings that come before you smoke like anger, happiness etc.
This episode will focus in on the physical part of nicotine addiction.
Someone who is physically addicted to nicotine usually smokes more than 10 cigarettes a day and lights up their first cigarette within half an hour of waking up.
If this sounds like you, then chances are you may be physically addicted to nicotine. This means that if you were to quit cold turkey (without the aid of Nicotine replacement therapy) you may experience nicotine withdrawal pangs such as irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, frustration, anger or even a depressed mood.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
To help overcome these physical withdrawals you may want to try nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). There are different NRT products out there but they are all used for the same purpose- to reduce nicotine withdrawal and to reduce your physical nicotine cravings. NRT has been proven to positively assist people making their quit attempt successful.
FACT! Nicotine is the very harmful and extremely addictive drug found in cigarettes. Although this drug can be fatal if used excessively, there have been no known accounts of people dying from nicotine alone. What will kill you is the other 7000 chemicals found in cigarettes.
It is far FAR safer to use nicotine replacement products compared to continuing to smoke cigarettes. This is because NRT products contain pure nicotine whereas cigarettes require you to also inhale dangerous poisons.
It is a much safer idea to use NRT whilst smoking and cutting down compared to continuing to smoke and not cutting down. Remember every cigarette you don’t smoke is doing you good!
The main NRT products that are recommended are known as oral nicotine replacement.
- Nicotine Chewing Gum,
- Nicotine Lozenges,
- Nicotine Oral Sprips,
- Nicotine Mouth Spray and,
- Nicotine Inhalator.
All can be purchased from your local pharmacist and you should always read instructions found on labels. The use of any NRT products depends on your usual nicotine intake. If you are a heavier smoker (20+ cigarettes a day) you may want to use a combination of products such as nicotine patch and Nicotine gum.
Patches are the most commonly used quit smoking aid, most people find using them simple as all you need to do is place a patch on your arm, lower back or somewhere that is not very hairy or sweaty and remember to change it daily. Nicotine patches work by slowly releasing nicotine into the body continuously throughout the day, reducing the amount you want to smoke, and reducing physical withdrawals. You can obtain patches via script up to 12 weeks and if you are Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander and you have a healthcare card you can get the patches for free!
It is always best to talk to your to doctor before you consider using NRT. Nicotine replacement is not for everybody. A pregnant mum will need to consult her doctor as any nicotine (including within cigarettes) can be harmful to baby. In this instance, the mum would benefit much more from focusing on the habit and emotional side of nicotine addiction. We will look more into this in Episode 2.
Quit Smoking Medications
Your doctor may talk to you about using a quit smoking medication such as the Champix, Zyban or nicotine patches. Champix is a medication that you use daily for up to 12 weeks. It works by placing a barrier between nicotine and the addiction receptors in your brain, making you feel like you just don’t want to smoke.
Champix is proven to double the chance of a smoker successfully quitting smoking.
However, it is still not for everyone and can have some potential harmful side-effects depending on the individual. So it is always best to talk to your doctor before use.
This is just a brief look into physical nicotine addiction. You can always learn more by visiting the Getting Help page of the Kick the butt website, quit.org.au or give me a call (the Tobacco Cessation Worker) on: 0409 573 533. Hopefully you have learnt something new and you may be able to take some of this knowledge and make a start on your own journey to quit the smokes.
In the next addition of “Tristan’s Top Tips” we will be looking into the “habit” of smoking and what your smoking triggers may be, and some strategies to cope with these triggers.
Stay deadly! Tristan.