Reviewed by Dr. Becky Spelman on 11/08/2014
Smoking cessation refers to attempts at quitting the use of tobacco. However, it can also refer to other drugs that can be smoked, although the physiological and psychological dependence symptoms are quite different.
The success rates are usually quoted at around 12 months. This is quite a modest rate and it is affected by different factors. There are physical withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit such as craving, irritability, low mood or lack of concentration. They usually peak within the first week of trying to quit, but gradually disappear as time goes by.
Nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco. There are two strands to nicotine dependency that makes it difficult for any smoke quitting to be successful in the long run.
Physical dependence: nicotine is one of the most dependency inducing drugs. It is a stimulant, giving you the impression of increased attributes when smoking such as improved concentration. These are just the relief from withdrawal symptoms that come in the gap between cigarettes. Withdrawal symptoms are just your body’s way of asking for more nicotine. Physical symptoms are widely known and usually tackled first. They are not easy to cope with, but medication can offer extra help.
Psychological dependence: regardless of how little they have smoked in the past, smokers usually become conditioned to certain situations that will trigger the need to smoke. Such situations include with a coffee, after a meal or when socialising with friends. Smokers become conditioned not only to these daily habits but also the psychological benefits of smoking such as a coping strategy for nerves, anxiety, shyness or even boredom. Smoking is also reinforced if used as a reward or break after completing a task. Psychological dependence can be just as hard to overcome as physical dependence. An understanding of the triggers of smoking can make a difference to your success rate at quitting.
Help with smoking cessation is widespread and widely available. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help in identifying the triggers of smoking. It can help an individual break out of the vicious cycle of smoking by creating realistic goals that will lead to a long-term smokeless life.