November 15 – the 37th Annual Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, is a day for smokers to take a day off from using tobacco, and for nonsmokers to encourage their friends to do the same. Are you getting prepared?
If you do plan to quit, you should know that the days ahead are going to be tough, and most people make several attempts before they actually kick the habit for good. So, don’t be too discouraged if it takes a few tries to make it stick!
The great news is that there are a TON of resources out there to help you quit smoking.
One of my favorite programs is 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). You can call this free hotline and speak to a professional smoking cessation counselor. They can help you get over your fears about quitting, help you set your quit date, teach you coping strategies for cravings, etc. The really great thing about this service is that they can often help you get access to nicotine replacement therapy if you are qualified, whether or not you have insurance. Plus, people who use “quit lines” have been found to be more successful in their attempts to quit!
If you’re not into the idea of calling a quit line, this government website is another great resource. It offers tips for quitting, a savings calculator, a cravings journal and much more! The CDC website also offers a list of resources to help you quit.
Closer to home, the staff of Student Health Services is also here to help. In addition to advice and encouragement, we can offer several prescription medication options to help you quit. All medications have side effects, so be sure to discuss them fully with your health care provider before taking them. The main options are:
Varenicline (Chantix) works by blocking the effect of nicotine on your brain, so if you relapse and light up, that cigarette won’t give you the same pleasurable effect it used to. It also helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Varenicline is not covered by insurance and it ain’t cheap (about $120/month), but it does seem to be very effective.
Buproprion (Wellbutrin) is a commonly prescribed antidepressant that has been found to decrease tobacco cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Buproprion is much cheaper than Varenicline (it’s on many $4 prescription plans and is usually covered by health insurance) but doesn’t seem to be quite as effective.
There are also a number of nicotine replacement products on the market these days. You can get anything from patches to gum to lozenges to inhalers. These are typically priced so that a month of treatment costs the same as a month of cigarettes (at about a pack per day). So really, while it seems pricey up front, in the long run you’ll be saving money. Even though you can buy them without a prescription, it’s always a good idea to talk to your health care provider before starting one of these products.
Good luck! Please post a comment and let us know how you’re doing! Who knows, your experiences may help someone else kick the habit!
Angela Walker, MD (OSU COM Alum)
John A. Vaughn, MD (OSU Student Health Services)