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I Want to Quit Smoking: Can You Help?

I Want to Quit Smoking: Can You Help?

You’re not alone if you tried to quit on your own and ended up smoking again. Of all the people who try to stop without medical support, only 6% succeed. In many cases, they underestimate the impact nicotine has on their brain.

As a family medicine practitioner specializing in substance abuse and addiction treatmentDavid Leszkowitz, DO, at White Lake Family Medicine has helped many people overcome their smoking habit.

Beyond prescribing medications that reduce cravings, their practice offers emotional support, behavioral therapy, and encouragement as you stop smoking and regain optimal health and wellness.

Why it is so hard to quit smoking

You may not think of nicotine like alcohol, opioids, or other addictive substances, but it has the same effect on your brain.

When you smoke a cigarette (or use any nicotine-containing product), the nicotine triggers the release of brain chemicals. These chemicals boost your mood, cause pleasurable feelings, improve concentration, and help you feel relaxed. Some people find that nicotine temporarily eases chronic pain.

These changes don’t last long and are mild compared to other addictive substances. However, cigarettes aren’t any less addictive. In fact, nicotine’s short-term effect leads to lighting up more frequently.

As you keep smoking, your brain gets used to having nicotine, and its chemistry changes. That’s when you get cravings or feel the need to smoke. Eventually, your brain develops a tolerance to the amount of nicotine you typically use. Then you smoke more to get the same feelings.

Like any addiction, once nicotine takes hold of your brain, it’s challenging to stop smoking.

Smoking cessation options

We offer several treatments that can help you stop smoking. Though you can take medications alone, combining medicine with therapy significantly increases your chances of long-term success.

Medications

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two medications that help you stop smoking and don’t contain nicotine: bupropion (Wellbutrin®) and varenicline (Chantix®).

Bupropion is an antidepressant that’s also approved for smoking cessation. The medication suppresses cravings and reduces withdrawal symptoms, irritability, and nervousness.

You start bupropion about two weeks before quitting smoking and usually take the medication up to 12 weeks after stopping. However, you can take it longer if needed. You may also get better results by combining bupropion with nicotine replacement therapy.

Varenicline also reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms by blocking the effect of nicotine in your brain. You can plan a day to quit and start varenicline a week before your date, or you can start taking the medication and quit smoking 8-25 days later.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

NRT allows you to ease out from smoking by using products that contain a small amount of nicotine. This process is also healthier because the products don’t have the other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. 

These treatments release nicotine into your bloodstream at a slow pace, giving you just enough to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

You can choose from several types of nicotine replacement products, including:

You may be able to combine NRT methods, but you should talk with us first to be sure using more than one is safe for you.

Behavioral therapy

Behavioral therapy supports your long-term success by exploring issues associated with smoking. We can help you identify the habits that foster smoking and create a plan for avoiding your triggers.

During therapy, you can also learn practical skills for coping with the challenges that often occur as you stop smoking. For example, many people have trouble sleeping, feel anxious or nervous, or start gaining weight.

If you’re ready to quit smoking, don’t wait to schedule an appointment. Contact White Lake Family Medicine using our online feature for a consultation in our White Lake, Michigan office today.

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