The use of pharmacotherapy, including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), has been shown to increase the likelihood of a successful quit attempt. Smoking cessation has numerous health benefits, including an increase in longevity, even among smokers who quit later in life. Effective smoking cessation policies, including increased NRT availability and use, would be expected to reduce smoking-attributable deaths in the United States. Some concerns have arisen about the safety of long-term NRT use, which could reduce the cessation-related benefits of NRT-aided quit attempts. Hemodynamic effects of nicotine intake have been described, which may have implications for cardiovascular disease risk. However, tobacco smoke contains many toxic compounds that can damage the cardiovascular system, including combustion products such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides; thus, it is not clear what fraction of smoking-related cardiovascular risk may be attributable to nicotine intake. Further, clinical trials have generally shown NRT use to be safe. Concerns have also been raised about increased risk for cancer on the basis of evidence from in vitro and in vivo studies showing that nicotine can result in tumor promotion through increased cell proliferation, inhibition of apoptosis, and angiogenesis (Apelberg, Onicescu, Avila-Tang and Samet, 2010).
The more support a smoker receives, the more likely it is that smoking cessation will be successful (Hamilton, 2005). Most people find that trying to quit cold turkey is next to impossible. Accordingly, the 'quit smoking' industry has grown to a billion-dollar-a-year business, with products ranging from antidepressant pills to nicotine replacement therapy like patches or gum, to newer experimental drugs (Smoking Cessation Device Helps Wean You Off Gradually, 2006).
The best method that one can choose to stop smoking is that of a prescription medication. Two medicines that do not contain nicotine and have been approved by the FDA as smoking cessation products are Chantix and Zyban. Both are accessible in tablet form by prescription-only. In July 2009, the FDA required both products to bear new safety information in the form of a boxed warning on their labeling for health care professionals. The labels cite serious risks for users taking these drugs. These risks include variances in behavior, depressed mood, hostility, and suicidal thoughts or actions (FDA 101: Smoking Cessation Products, 2010).
Chantix is a prescription medicine that does not contain nicotine that is specifically designed to help adults 18 and over quit smoking. Currently there are over 6 million people in the U.S. that have tried Chantix. This medication works in two ways. First it attaches to nicotine receptors in the brain and then it blocks the nicotine from getting to them. It is believed that Chantix also sets in motion these receptors, causing a reduced discharge of dopamine when compared to nicotine (About Chantix, 2010).
It's recommended that a person begins Chantix treatment a week before they plan to stop smoking altogether. This gives the medication a chance to build up in the body. A person is allowed to smoke during the first week that they are taking Chantix, but it is recommended that they stop completely on Day 8 of the treatment. In studies that have been done, 44% of Chantix users were quit during weeks 9 to 12 of treatment compared to 18% who were given a sugar pill. Chantix also helps reduce a person's urge to smoke. The average person who was in these studies had been smoking for more than 24 years. These trials involved a mix of men and women who smoked an average of 10 or more cigarettes a day (About Chantix, 2010).
Chantix takes action at sites in the brain that are influenced by nicotine. It gives some nicotine effects to relieve withdrawal symptoms and blocks the effects of nicotine from cigarettes if users take it up again. The medication directions for Chantix say that the product is not recommended for people who are under the age of 18. The most common side effects of Chantix include nausea, constipation, gas, vomiting and trouble sleeping. There have also been reports of vivid, unusual, or strange dreams associated with its use (FDA 101: Smoking Cessation Products, 2010).
In addition to the warnings about changes in behavior, depressed mood, hostility, and suicidal thoughts or actions when taking this drug, the patient medication guide for Chantix cites other adverse affects and risks, including allergic reactions, serious skin reactions, and trouble driving or operating heavy machinery (FDA 101: Smoking Cessation Products, 2010).
Zyban helps patients to abstain from smoking; however, the precise means by which it accomplishes this is unknown. The medication directions for Zyban state that the product has not been approved for use in children under the age of 18. The most usually seen adverse events again and again linked with the use of Zyban are dry mouth and insomnia. In addition to cautions about the risks of serious psychiatric problems, the medication guide for Zyban cites other unfavorable events and risks related to this product, including seizures, high blood pressure, and allergic responses. Since Zyban contains the same active ingredient as the antidepressant Wellbutrin, users and potential users are urged to talk to their health care professional about risks and benefits of treatment with antidepressant medicines (FDA 101: Smoking Cessation Products, 2010).
These aren't the only medications that can help, though. Some doctors prescribe anti-depressants to their patients who are quitting smoking. You may be wondering how anti-depressants can help. When you quit smoking, you will have a lot of side effects that can be very disconcerting, including depression. Anti-depressant medications can help with these withdrawal symptoms. They often have a great affect on the treatment, and they improve the chances of success for the quitter. There are other medications administered by doctors that can help with this process. They are often similar to the nicotine replacement smoking cessation programs, although they tend to be in higher doses or have stronger effects. If you are unsure of your own progress while you quit and you feel like you need some extra help, it may be a good idea to use some of these medications (Kent, 2010).
While medications do help people quit smoking, there are other ways that can help as well. When used in tandem, people tend to have the best success over their nasty habit. First, you should visit your physician. They will have a lot of practical advice for you. They may even prescribe some medication or tell you about a successful method for smoking cessation. Then, you should visit a therapist. Psychologists do a great job of talking people through the quitting process. If one is uncomfortable with this, they could also join a discussion group. Getting together with people in this same situation can be really helpful for many (Kent, 2010).
People have wanted to figure out how to quit smoking for almost as long as people have been smoking. The pharmaceutical industry has recently entered the arena of smoking cessation products with medications such as Chantix and Zyban. Both of these medications have been proven to be very effective in helping people to kick the smoking habit. As with any medication the smoking cessation products have shown to have some side effects that come with their use. If a person can work through the side effects that come with this method of quitting smoking then it can be very effective. The negative health effects that cigarette smoking has on people's health are tremendous. Anything that can be used to help people to quit is a good thing.
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