Stop Smoking - Why is it so hard? - Mayo Clinic
Find Help to Stop Smoking
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Sometimes, a little bit of help goes a long way. Since only 4 to 7 percent of people can stop smoking without help from medications or support groups, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), it pays to find resources that can help you kick the habit.
"Quitting smoking is hard, but stopping for good is harder," says James M. Davis, MD, medical director of the Duke Center for Smoking Cessation and a tobacco dependence instructor at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. "Smokers really need to prepare before they try to quit."
The good news is that there are plenty of resources that can help smokers quit for good.
A Primary Source of Support for Quitting Smoking
Meeting with your doctor for just 10 minutes can improve the chances that you’ll quit smoking successfully, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Your doctor may suggest medications to help curb nicotine cravings.
About 25 percent of people who use medications to quit smoking succeed in staying smoke-free for at least six months, says the ACS. Pair that with smoking-cessation counseling, and the odds of staying smoke-free are even better.
Stop Smoking With Telephone and Online Support
There are many smoking cessation resources available online and over the phone. Tobacco quit lines tend to be the most effective and inexpensive options, Dr. Davis says. In most states, you can reach them by dialing 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669). State quit lines offer free counseling, support, personalized quit plans, and possibly free medications. Services also include tips on managing nicotine withdrawal, which can lead to frustration, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and the craving to smoke.
You can also check out , a website that provides links and information to many different resources available to help you quit smoking, and the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) live instant messaging service, LiveHelp, to chat live with a support person for answers and advice. The site also lists telephone support lines, such as 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848) from the NCI. Messaging and phone lines offer counselors who can provide advice and educational information to help you stop smoking.
The American Lung Association (ALA) offers a comprehensive online program that starts before your official quit day to get you mentally ready to stop smoking. It's called Freedom From Smoking (FFS) Online.
Plus, the CDC website is full of educational information, including links to other support programs and apps. Visit their "I'm Ready to Quit" page for details. Support programs like these can teach you how to cope with smoking triggers, which play a big part in relapsing, Davis says. "Every situation, place, person, or feeling that was paired with smoking has now become a trigger," he says.
BecomeAnEx.org, afree online smoking cessation support program, can also help people stop smoking. It can help you change your habits and provide access to a community of former smokers and others who are trying to quit. It breaks the process into three steps: how to quit smoking, quitting smoking, and staying quit.
Smoking Cessation Apps and Texting Programs
You can also try a smartphone smoking cessation app such as QuitGuide or quitSTART, which are both free for Android and iPhone. These apps send regular reminders, tips, and encouragement to stick with your quit-smoking plan. The programs use your smoking history to provide personalized messages and reminders. The QuitGuide allows you to track your cravings. You can also find ways to distract yourself from cravings, such as with games and challenges, and keep a journal of your progress. Find them on your app store or through links at Smokefree.gov.
Prefer text support? Smokefree.gov also offers the SmokefreeTXT program, a 24/7 text messaging service. Just text “QUIT” to 47848 or sign up online. You'll start receiving text messages at regular intervals to help you stick with your quit-smoking plan. These text messages offer encouragement and tips to help you battle nicotine cravings.
In-Person Support to Stop Smoking
Sometimes it helps to get face-to-face support from people who are dealing with the same fight against smoking. Your state health department can be a good source for finding in-person smoking cessation groups in your area.
The ALA also offers Freedom From Smoking clinics. The in-person, detailed smoking cessation program is eight sessions long. Its goal is to help you change your behaviors and deal with both the process and the problems of quitting smoking while providing the benefit of support from others who also are quitting. Learn more by visiting the association's website.
The Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence (ATTUD) can connect you with a certified tobacco treatment specialist to provide high-quality smoking cessation counseling and quit plans. Check out the ATTUD’s website to find a provider in your area.
Choosing a Smoking Cessation Program
With so many options to help you quit smoking, be sure to pick which option is best for you and your individual needs.
Quitting smoking is tough, but you don't have to go it alone. Take the necessary steps to make your quitting journey a successful one."Before you try to quit, prepare well so you can stop smoking for good," Davis says.
Video: 5 Reasons Why You Should Stop Smoking
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