So Long, Cigarettes: How to Quit Smoking

Therapies That Can Help

Experts say that tobacco dependency is a medical problem like high cholesterol or high blood pressure, and it should be treated like one.

Therapy: Nicotine patch (nonprescription)
Action: Provides steady dose through your skin.
Pros: Avoids peaks and valleys; helps you wean gradually. Doubles success rate.
Cons: Side effects may include irritated skin, muscle aches, insomnia, and nausea.
How you use it: Put a new patch on your back or arm daily starting with full strength (15 to 22mg) for four weeks, then reducing, for a total of three to five months.

Therapy: Nicotine gum or lozenge (nonprescription)
Action: Delivers nicotine through mouth membranes.
Pros: Gives immediate relief; keeps mouth busy. Doubles your chance of success.
Cons: Possible side effects for gum: mouth sores, racing heartbeat. For lozenge: insomnia, gas, heartburn.
How you use it: Chew up to 20 pieces of gum (for a half hour each) for up to six months. Suck up to 20 lozenges per day for up to 12 weeks.

Therapy: Bupropion (Zyban or Wellbutrin, prescription pill)
Action: Acts on brain chemicals to lessen withdrawal symptoms and reduce the urge to smoke.
Pros: Minimizes irritation. Can be combined with nicotine replacement. Doubles your odds for success.
Cons: Can't be used if you have a history of eating disorders or seizures. Side effects could include dry mouth and insomnia.
How you use it: Take one to two 150mg tablets per day, starting one to two weeks before your quit date and then continuing for up to 12 weeks.

Therapy: Varenicline (Chantix, prescription pill)
Action: Interferes with nicotine receptors in the brain.
Pros: Can quadruple your odds of success.
Cons: Side effects may include nausea, insomnia, and, rarely, suicidal thoughts.
How you use it: Take 0.5mg once or twice a day in the week before quitting, and then 1mg twice daily for up to 24 weeks.

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