On the medical side, treatments can include the use of nicotine chewing
gum or nicotine skin patches. Also, a medication called Zyban, which is
also used as an antidepressant under the name Wellbutrin, is sometimes
used as one component of smoking-cessation programs, and a number of
other drugs are being actively studied or are in initial clinical trials. Some
of those trials contain some interesting twists that might be of great value.
It turns out that starting nicotine replacement therapy (the patch, specifically)
a couple of weeks before one’s “quit date” can increase the likelihood of
successfully quitting. Initial studies sponsored by the National Institute on
Drug Abuse have demonstrated this, and ongoing studies are looking for
the optimal time at which therapy should begin relative to the quit date.
Other studies are exploring the value of taking a flexible view of which
medications to use, and when, in the quitting process. Some people have
more success than others with different treatments, and current studies are
looking for the best ways to “rescue” smoking-cessation patients who are
not having success with one approach by replacing it with another at just the
right time in the quitting process. Although these studies are still being
conducted, they show promise for helping clinicians to refine their treatments
to give patients their own personal best chance for success.
As smoking-cessation treatments become more sophisticated and the
options for treatment multiply, it becomes more and more valuable to
seek professional consultation about quitting. The best first step to quitting
is to get a referral from a physician, psychologist, or pharmacist to an
established smoking-cessation program. Sometimes these are run in hospitals
or clinics, but they may also be operated as part of a community
mental health clinic or by a private practitioner. In any case, the people in
charge of the program should be trained professionals prepared to discuss
the various options in detail.
The bad news is that although most of these programs can help people
quit for a brief time, many people return to smoking within six months. It
appears that programs that use multiple approaches (such as nicotine
replacement and/or other drug therapies, behavior training, and hypnosis)
have a somewhat better record of keeping people off cigarettes longer
than single-method programs do. Still, many people in multiple-approach
programs return to smoking within a year.
*Excerpted from Buzzed: The Straight Facts about the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy, Fully Revised and Updated Fourth Edition by Cynthia Kuhn, PhD, Scott Swartzwelder, PhD and Wilkie Wilson, PhD. Copyright 2014, 2008, 2003, 1998 by Cynthia Kuhn, Scott Swartzwelder and Wilkie Wilson. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved