How to quit smoking

Even heavy smokers know that smoking is a bad habit that has a detrimental effect on health. Many people dream of quitting smoking, but are afraid of "withdrawal syndrome. "We will discuss how to quit smoking quickly and effectively in our article.

Quitting smoking cigarettes

In general, when we talk about smoking, it is more correct to talk about "tobacco" rather than "nicotine" addiction. According to the WHO International Classification of Diseases, tobacco dependence is a physiological behavioral disorder based on the use of psychoactive substances. True nicotine addiction is only one type of tobacco addiction.

What is nicotine addiction

Nicotine is involved in many biochemical processes in our body. That is why smoking is the cause of the development of more than 40 different diseases. Tobacco smoke contains more than 7, 000 harmful chemicals, as well as carbon monoxide and tissue-damaging free radicals.

More than half of smokers dream of giving up this harmful habit, but before you fight smoking, you need to find out the reason why a person smokes. Doctors classify all the reasons for smoking into several types of smoking behavior:


This type of smoking behavior manifests itself in those people who believe that a cigarette stimulates them, invigorates them and relieves fatigue. The dependence in such people is psychological in nature, and quitting smoking causes symptoms of vegetative-vascular dystonia and asthenia.

"Cigarette game»

People with this type of behavior smoke little, often "for company" and no more than 2-3 cigarettes a day. They are more interested in accessories: ashtrays, cigarette cases, lighters, expensive types of cigarettes. Smoking is more like a game than an addiction.


It is very difficult for such people to quit smoking. For them, a cigarette is a means of additional pleasure during relaxation, and the situation while smoking should be comfortable and relaxing.


This type of smoking is necessary for a person to reduce emotional stress. Such people smoke in moments of shyness, anger, uncertainty, and in unpleasant situations.


This type is associated with physical dependence on nicotine. A decrease in the level of nicotine in the blood forces a person to smoke, despite all the prohibitions. It is this type of smoking behavior that can be considered true nicotine addiction.


Such smokers smoke reflexively, without thinking about the fact of smoking. They smoke more often during work, in large quantities and "automatically. "Most often, they cannot explain the reason for smoking.

All of the above types of smoking behavior can occur either in isolation or combined in various combinations.

Tobacco addiction progresses with increasing smoking experience and goes through 3 stages of development:

  • Stage 1 - initial. A smoker smokes occasionally due to psychological dependence. Physical dependence is not observed at this stage.
  • Stage 2 is characterized by the initial manifestations of physical dependence on nicotine.
  • Stage 3 combines pronounced factors of psychological and physical dependence on nicotine.

To find out if you have a nicotine addiction, answer a few questions:

  1. Do you smoke more than one pack of cigarettes a day?
  2. Do you feel like smoking within half an hour of waking up?
  3. When quitting smoking, did you have a strong urge to smoke again and were bothered by "withdrawal symptoms"?

If you answered yes to all 3 questions, you are severely dependent on nicotine.

The cause of addiction is nicotine itself, which reaches the brain within 7 seconds after the first inhalation of tobacco products. There, nicotine interacts with nicotinic receptors and promotes the production of neurotransmitters, including dopamine. These substances form nicotine addiction. As soon as a smoker takes a long break from smoking, the level of these substances in the blood decreases and a "withdrawal syndrome" occurs: craving for smoking, anxiety, decreased attention, restlessness and irritability, weakness, discomfort and malaise. A person develops a cough, insomnia and other somatic symptoms. The duration of such a period can range from several days to several months. That is why doctors recommend that those who quit smoking take special pharmacological medications.

Interesting facts about smoking

Fact about smoking Description
Number of smokers in the world (WHO) 1 billion people
Percentage of smokers by gender 40% of all men, 9% of all women
In which countries is smoking more common? Kiribati, Montenegro, Greece, Timor
In which countries is smoking less common? Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Eritrea, Panama
Diseases caused by smoking baldness, cataracts, early wrinkles, hearing loss, skin cancer, tooth decay, emphysema, osteoporosis, heart disease, stomach ulcers, miscarriages, spermatogenesis disorders, psoriasis, thrombarteritis obliterans, cancer of more than 15 organs
Annual mortality from smoking (WHO) more than 7 million people (of which 1. 5 million are women) - one person every 6. 5 seconds
Annual mortality from second-hand smoke exposure (second-hand smoke) (WHO) 1. 2 million people (of which 64% are women and about 65, 000 children)
Popular myths about smoking
  • quitting smoking causes weight gain;
  • you should not quit smoking during pregnancy;
  • a cigarette helps you relax;
  • quitting smoking causes stress;
  • there are safe ways to smoke;
  • light cigarettes are less harmful.

5 best ways to quit smoking

Most smokers have tried to quit smoking at least once in their lives. Some succeeded, but others were unable to withstand the painful withdrawal symptoms, and the attempt was unsuccessful. In addition to willpower, you may need special medications or specialist help.

Tobacco addiction is one of the strongest addictions and develops much faster than, for example, alcohol addiction. That is why it is very difficult to treat.

1. Drugs

Doctors use two types of medications to treat nicotine addiction: nicotine replacement medications (NRTs) and medications that do not contain nicotine. These products are good both for those who want to completely quit smoking and for people who want to reduce the intensity of smoking. However, a positive result can be achieved only after eliminating psychological dependence, and WIP only provides a time delay for solving this problem.

Drugs that do not contain nicotine

Drugs that do not contain nicotine include nicotinic receptor antagonists (NRAs) and atypical antidepressants. However, atypical antidepressants are not officially used to treat nicotine addiction.

Nicotinic receptor antagonist drugs prevent the interaction of nicotine with the receptors of the nervous system, and smoking cigarettes is no longer enjoyable for the smoker.

ANR is started 1 week before the expected smoking cessation date and continued for 12 weeks. In the period from 8 to 35 days of treatment, it is recommended to completely give up cigarettes.

Advantages and disadvantages:

  • the treatment period for ANR is several times shorter than that for NWP; the drugs do not require gradual withdrawal; good therapeutic effect.
  • available by prescription; have a complex dosage regimen; many contraindications; Do not take under 18 years of age, during pregnancy or lactation.

Nicotine replacement drugs

Nicotine replacement products (NRTs) are designed to directly deliver nicotine into the human body to replace regular smoking. Such products are available in the form of lozenges, patches, chewing gum, sprays and inhalers. Smoking cessation is achieved by relieving withdrawal symptoms and gradually reducing the dose of the drug.

The time of penetration of nicotine into the blood and its presence in the body depends on the form of the drug. Nicotine patches are applied directly to the skin. The patch releases nicotine for 16-24 hours. Chewing gum, sublingual tablets, and sprays work faster, but the nicotine remains in the blood for much less time. The fastest-acting remedy is nicotine spray. After its application, the effect occurs within 60 seconds.

Advantages and disadvantages:

  • alleviate withdrawal symptoms; suitable for people who do not want to completely quit smoking; minimum number of contraindications.
  • require consultation with a doctor before use; Cannot be used under 18 years of age, during pregnancy and lactation.

2. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy to combat nicotine addiction

Psychotherapy helps to form positive attitudes and instill skills that can control nicotine addiction. Psychotherapy is most effective when combined with drug treatment. Psychotherapists often use Ericksonian hypnosis, cognitive psychotherapy and some other techniques. After just 2-3 sessions with a psychotherapist, the patient’s need to smoke goes away.

Advantages and disadvantages:

  • pronounced therapeutic effect; enhances the effect of drug treatment; Only 2-3 sessions are required.
  • requires highly qualified specialist; depends on the patient's motivation.

3. Acupuncture

This method is based on the impact of needles on biologically active points of the body, which helps alleviate withdrawal symptoms and physical cravings for smoking. Most often, a course of 3-10 procedures is used, during which needles are installed on acupuncture points on the arms and legs. Another popular method is a needle button, which is installed under the skin of the auricle for a long time. At the moment the desire to smoke arises, the patient presses it, and the craving recedes.

Advantages and disadvantages:

  • does not require the use of medications; short course of treatment; has no contraindications or side effects;
  • requires high patient motivation; You can only trust a highly qualified specialist.

4. Doctor's consultation

Your doctor will help you find a way to quit smoking

The first stage of nicotine addiction is psychological dependence. It is most often associated with the "ritual of smoking. "The reason may be the company involved, the association of smoking with a cup of coffee or driving a car. In young people, the onset of smoking may be due to the desire to appear more mature, independent, and to have a certain "status" position. In this case, the decisive factor in quitting smoking may be a conversation with a doctor - for example, a psychotherapist or a narcologist. Awareness of the harm to health and the help of a specialist will help get rid of the conditioned reflex that causes the craving for smoking.

There are free consultation centers whose operators will give advice by phone at any time of the day and help you find the most effective way to quit smoking. The doctor will be able to recommend various programs and courses aimed at overcoming tobacco addiction.

Advantages and disadvantages:

  • consultation with a doctor increases the effectiveness of any type of therapy; allows you to do without the use of medications if you are highly motivated.
  • will help only with a weak degree of dependence; high motivation to quit smoking is required.

5. Behavioral therapy

This set of measures is aimed at creating favorable conditions for quitting smoking or reducing the number of cigarettes smoked. According to statistics, only 3-7% of smokers can stop smoking without the help of specialists and drug therapy. However, by changing your behavior pattern, it is much easier to quit smoking or reduce its intensity.

  1. Decide whether you will quit smoking all at once or gradually. If not immediately, make a plan to gradually reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke.
  2. If you decide to quit smoking right away, set a date in advance for when you will do this. Try to time it to coincide with an event that is significant to you. On the eve of this day, smoke twice as much to oversaturate your body with nicotine.
  3. If you often smoke at work, time your smoking cessation to coincide with your vacation or weekends. Try to find a quitting partner.
  4. When quitting gradually, try not to smoke for as long as possible after sleeping and eating. Remove cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays from your sight. Try not to smoke in the presence of children, relatives and in society. Frequently visit places where smoking is prohibited.
  5. Don't buy cigarettes in advance, try to smoke only half a cigarette.
  6. If you feel the urge to smoke, do not smoke immediately. An acute craving for smoking lasts 3-5 minutes. Before doing this, do some exercise or take a light walk.
  7. Try to periodically give up smoking for a while: half a day, a day, a couple of days, etc.
  8. Go to the gym. Active physical exercise increases the production of pleasure hormones and alleviates withdrawal symptoms.

Advice from doctors for those who want to quit smoking

Nicotine addiction manifests itself on the psychological, emotional and physical levels. According to doctors, when quitting smoking, the main key to success is strong motivation. That is why every smoker should know the harmful effects of smoking and the benefits of quitting it.

Most doctors are skeptical about the ability of an "experienced" smoker to quit this habit on his own. Experiments with nicotine replacement therapy drugs are no less dangerous.

Therapy for nicotine addiction should be comprehensive and individually tailored. There are several developed techniques that can effectively combat the problem. Treating addiction is a serious and time-consuming task. Without consultation and supervision of a doctor, achieving success will be much more difficult. Having assessed the degree of addiction and the characteristics of your body, a qualified specialist will select a treatment regimen that is suitable for you. Only in this case the result will be positive and expected.

Popular questions and answers

Having decided to quit smoking, many smokers begin to study this topic on the Internet. We selected the most popular questions and addressed them to our expert.

  1. Why is it so difficult to quit smoking?

    Nicotine addiction affects all areas of the human body: psychological, emotional and physical. In terms of the strength of attachment, doctors compare it with alcohol and drug addiction. When you quit smoking, a "withdrawal syndrome" occurs. Relieving these manifestations is the most difficult task. Treatment requires a long-term, comprehensive and professional approach.

  2. Is it possible to suddenly quit smoking?

    With expressed motivation, this approach to the problem will be the most effective. If you have a strong addiction, doctors recommend quitting immediately. Nicotine replacement therapy or nicotinic receptor blockers will help relieve withdrawal symptoms.

  3. How does withdrawal from cigarettes go?

    When quitting smoking for several days and sometimes months, symptoms of the so-called "withdrawal syndrome" appear: craving for smoking, anxiety, decreased attention, restlessness and irritability, weakness, discomfort and malaise. Cough, insomnia and other somatic symptoms increase.

  4. When does the desire to smoke disappear?

    The strongest desire to smoke appears within a week. Later, the desire to smoke subsides, but may persist for another one to several months. Doctors consider an attempt to quit smoking successful if the patient does not smoke for six months.

  5. Is it okay to smoke sometimes?

    There is no "safe" level of smoking. According to statistics, if a person smokes just one cigarette a day, he increases the chance of heart disease or stroke by 30-50%. Every "occasionally smoked cigarette" can return a former smoker to nicotine addiction.

  6. Why do people get fat when they quit smoking?

    The main reason for weight gain is "stress eating. "When quitting smoking, people often snack instead of smoking breaks, which leads to weight gain. Sometimes, while smoking, a disruption occurs in the endocrine system, leading to weight loss. After quitting smoking, weight may return to its previous level.