10 Common Myths & Truths About Quitting Smoking

We may live in an age of unbridled and limitless information, but in many instances this simply breeds further confusion. For every ‘fact’ you come across online, there’s another dozen or so which completely contradict it.

The subject of smoking being a prime example – quitting tobacco in particular. For those interested in quitting, especially if you are trying to get pregnant, the web is loaded with literally millions of resources to help things along. The only problem being that there are just as many myths and untruths doing the rounds right now as there are nuggets of wisdom.

So in order to clarify a few of the most important fundamentals, what follows is a brief rundown of 10 of the most common myths about quitting smoking, along with their respective truths:

1. Prescription treatments don’t work

Kicking off with a biggie, this really couldn’t be further from the truth. Studies have shown that when prescription medications like Champix and Zyban are combined with the conventional approach to quitting, you are in fact up to 300% more likely to quit successfully. Of course, it’s not as if prescription medications can do all the work, but they can certainly make the process significantly easier. Take into consideration though, that there are certain reasons why you might not be able to take stop smoking medication. This includes pregnancy, consumption of alcohol or a history of psychological illness.

2. Nicotine therapy causes cancer

This is entirely wrong for one very important reason – there is absolutely no link between nicotine and cancer risk. Instead, nicotine is simply the substance you become addicted to and therefore cannot stop smoking. It’s actually the carbon monoxide, tar and various other terrifyingly toxic chemicals in cigarettes that increase cancer risk. As such, nicotine therapy has no effect on cancer risk whatsoever. [1]

3. You should never use more than one nicotine product at once

In truth, combination therapy can actually be very effective. The simple fact of the matter is that while one smoker may find cravings subside with just a single piece of nicotine gum, another may need to combine patches with nasal sprays and lozenges to get the same effect. But given the fact that nicotine is more addictive than it is harmful, this doesn’t necessarily constitute any real danger. [2]

4. Champix will make me feel depressed

Contrary to popular belief, there is absolutely no evidence that Champix causes feelings of depression. Instead, it is generally accepted that in instances where feelings of depression are experienced, it is simply due to the withdrawal symptoms of quitting tobacco use, rather than a side-effect of the medication itself. [3]

5. Nicotine replacement therapy is expensive

It used to be, but is nothing of the sort these days. For one thing, there are dozens of competing brands now pushing their own unique products for increasingly low prices. In addition, it’s also perfectly possible to be prescribed nicotine replacement products by your doctor, meaning that regardless of what you need, you will only ever pay one low price.

6. Prescription treatments will cure me

As already touched upon, it’s never a good idea to expect prescription medications to perform miracles. They can certainly help with the withdrawal symptoms and cravings, but cannot and will not make an immediate and permanent transformation to your life. You still need plenty of willpower and dedication.

7. I can't use stop smoking treatments if I'm pregnant

If there’s any time to quit smoking for life, it’s the moment you find out you’re pregnant. While certain prescription medications should not be used during pregnancy, other nicotine replacement products can be used with absolutely no risk whatsoever. Speak to your doctor for recommendations and advice.

8. You can’t use NRT if you have previously had a heart attack

This myth stems from the fact that certain nicotine replacement products can increase blood pressure and heart rate. As such, it is a good idea to speak to your doctor before using any such products. Nevertheless, in most instances they will happily recommend NRT as a safe and effective option. [4]

9. Nicotine replacement products are as addictive as smoking

While the nicotine in NRT products is addictive, there’s more to quitting smoking than weaning yourself off nicotine alone. Smoking becomes so incredibly habitual and such a normal part of life that the very action of smoking cigarettes becomes something your body and brain crave. Plus there’s the fact that NRT provide your body with much lower doses of nicotine by way of slow, controlled release.

10. I’ve failed before, I’ll fail again

Last but not least, the problem with this particular attitude is that it largely guarantees that you will indeed fail. In reality however, there is absolutely no case that cannot be effectively addressed. Even if you have tried to quit and failed dozens or even hundreds of times, chances are there’s a treatment, medication or solution out there you’ll have more luck with. Ask your doctor to point you in the right direction.

Sources: [1] Quit Smoking Community – Does Nicotine Cause Cancer? [2] National Institute of Drug Abuse – Combination Therapy Most Effective for Helping Smokers Quit [3] The Telegraph - Study: anti-smoking drug Champix does not raise risk of suicide or depression [4] Reuters - Nicotine patch safe after heart attack: study

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