The average adult makes 35,000 conscious decisions each day. Everything from the clothes you put on in the morning to the groceries you buy to the words you use to communicate — your choices come together to create your unique imprint on the world.
Yet, the pressure to make the right decisions in the context of modern life can feel a bit overwhelming. The Information Age has certainly complicated matters and something that was once as straight-forward as quitting smoking – aka: smoking cessation – is suddenly not so simple anymore.
Since they have the power to alter the course of your bodily health, choices about smoking cessation and how to best go about it are critical. People who try to stop smoking may decide vaping is a healthier, safer option. However, there are safer options to help you tackle smoking cessation and succeed for good.
What Is Smoking Cessation?
Smoking cessation is the process of using various methods to help yourself put an end to your smoking habit. The nicotine in cigarettes or similar products is extremely addictive, so smokers have an incredibly hard time kicking the habit (<– understatement of the year).
The options to help kick the smoking habit are plentiful, thankfully. However, not all options are created equal.
Gone are the days of being forced to quit “cold turkey” without the support of outside aids, therapy, or medicine. Yet, some new “replacements” for smoking are touted as being healthier when really they have their own set of risks.
Vaping: The New Kid on the Block
Vaping is the “cool kids” way of referring to using an electronic device to inhale vapors from a heated liquid. In other words, it’s the new “electronic” way of smoking. The devices themselves are often referred to as “vapes” or “e-cigs.”
According to Reuters Health, more than 10.8 million American adults currently use e-cigarettes. One-third of those e-cigarette users vape daily – and the trend is growing.
If you’ve ever wondered why the word “vaping” itself feels a bit unnerving – like the term could easily be used to describe the way Darth Vader breathes – it’s probably because the habit is not without risk.
While vape liquids do contain fewer chemicals than conventional cigarettes, they still deliver a number of toxins to the body. Heavy metals such as nickel, cadmium, and chromium are often absorbed through vaping, as well as diacetyl – a chemical known to cause lung disease.
Additionally, vaping does nothing to break the hand-to-mouth movement that is so pivotal in cementing the smoking habit. In fact, it simply reinforces it, making smoking cessation even harder.
Marketers insist on advertising vaping as a “safer alternative to smoking,” but there is no conclusive evidence to support the use of vaping as an effective tool for smoking cessation, according to Yale Medicine and others.
As such, vaping is not recognized by the FDA as a smoking cessation aid.
How to Quit Smoking the Healthy Way
Luckily, it’s possible to choose a method that’s safer than vaping and tailored to suit your individual needs. Cognitive behavioral therapy, medications, nicotine replacement therapies, and combo therapies are all great alternatives to muscling through nicotine cravings alone.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
The internal, emotional landscape requires a skilled navigator. In terms of smoking cessation, a cognitive behavioral therapist is just the right person to help you break the cognitive pathways that have formed around your smoking habit.
Through the identification of emotional triggers, CBT can aid you in constructing an effective plan to get through difficult cravings.
There isn’t a metaphor in the world that can adequately describe what it feels like to go through nicotine withdrawal. Being perpetually tapped on the shoulder by an anxious, sleepless, tortured monster probably comes closest, though.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are medications such as Bupropion and Chantix that can ease the physical symptoms associated with smoking cessation and lessen the probability of feeling like an ogre.
However, these medications are not without potential side effects and may not be for everyone. Be sure to consult with your doctor and give a full medical and mental health history before starting any medications.
Nicotine Replacement TherapyCigarette cravings are intense. However, the Mayo Clinic says that it is possible for people to wean themselves off of nicotine without the use of tobacco. Nicotine supplements come in many forms, including inhalers, nasal sprays, lozenges, patches, and chewing gum. Nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays require a doctor’s prescription. Meanwhile, lozenges, patches, and gum are simple, over-the-counter alternatives that are often overlooked for their simplicity, but are effective and safe for many people.
Studies have shown that smoking cessation is easier to achieve when different methods are combined, which is great news for those of us who have trouble making up our minds.
For example, an article by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that a combination of a nicotine patch and nicotine lozenge is more effective than other smoking-cessation therapies.
Are You Ready?
When the day arrives to finally quit smoking, you’ll know that the prior 34,999 decisions you made will pale in comparison. The new outfit you wore, the fine chocolate you bought, and the amazing topic you chose for your presentation will all be reduced to trivial details in the face of the nagging ogre that is smoking addiction.
Smoking cessation is far from trivial. It requires thinking deeply about your own strengths and weaknesses, your triggers and your resources, to choose which smoking cessation option is best for you – and then being brave enough to research, experiment, and try.
By embracing proven quit methods and adjusting them to fit your lifestyle, smoking cessation can be much easier. In a world of many options, health is always the right choice.
Have you or someone you know quit smoking? What method worked best for you? Let us know in the comments.