We are long past the days — maybe even decades past them — of debating whether or not cigarettes are potentially deadly. Even second-hand smoke is partly responsible for the over 450,000 tobacco-related deaths in the United States each year, according to the American Lung Association. But sadly, those facts don’t make quitting any easier.
Many people regularly smoke cigarettes because they are a way to deal with stress and anxiety. Nicotine travels to the brain quickly when it is inhaled, causing a temporary rush or feeling of relaxation. It can elevate your mood, your heart rate, and make you less anxious rapidly but temporarily. And that is where the addiction patterns start to take over according to the American Heart Association. Because your body rids itself of this rush so fast it is very easy to crave the same feeling again. And again. And again. The vicious cycle of dependency created by cigarettes is topped off with uncomfortable feelings of withdrawal and, surprise, the best way to ease those withdrawals is by grabbing another cigarette. Rinse and repeat.
In the long run, smoking only creates more stress by taking away your overall health. And that’s exactly why it’s so important to find a way to quit and stick to quitting once you’ve made the decision. Here are some of the most scientifically proven methods that will help you quit for good.
Do It With a Partner
Having a “quitting buddy” may sound odd but it’s proven to be effective. According to a study by AMA Internal Medicine, it’s actually wildly effective. In their study, just less than half of the men were successful in their attempt to quit if their partner also quit, compared to only 8% success if their partner did not stop. Meanwhile, half of the women quit if their male partners also quit smoking. Accountability to others is nothing to ignore.
Give Yourself Financial Incentives
This falls in line with the accountability factor once again. It also keys into our attachment to rewards as a detractor from smoking. In a recent CVS Caremark program, we actually got to see both sides of this coin.
The incentive program of 2,500 people had the most success with people who deposited $150 to start, getting advice and counseling throughout as well as nicotine replacement gums or patches. If they succeeded, they would get a $650 payout as their reward.
The next most successful group in the program got an $800 incentive as well as the support resources. However, only 17% of those people quit even with the larger payout, proving that no risk of loss (that $150 deposit) made quitting tougher to follow through on.
In 2013, a study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors showed that smokers who were given a CBD inhaler reduced their cigarette consumption by around 40% compared to smokers given a placebo.
That particular study didn’t indicate how or why CBDs were able to help reduce nicotine consumption, but a more recent study examined people given CBD vs those given a placebo and their reactions to cigarette-themed and neutral photos. Researchers measured their attentional bias and found that those with the placebo paid noticeably more attention to the cigarette-related images.
“Cannabidiol can reduce some aspects of nicotine withdrawal in dependent cigarette smokers, which include the attentional bias to and liking of drug cues, but did not affect craving withdrawal, cognition or impulsivity associated with withdrawal,” said Chandni Hindocha, a doctoral student at the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit of University College London.