Smoking cessation is the term used to describe the process a person goes through to quit smoking. The most common forms of quitting smoking include cold turkey, nicotine replacement therapy, nicotine patches, and antidepressant or stimulant medication. Depending on the person, more than one form may be required to successfully quit.
Cold turkey is a form of smoking cessation that requires the person to immediately stop smoking without any additional nicotine. This means the person does not gradually wean himself off of nicotine but shocks his body into withdrawal. The most common side effects of stopping cold turkey are headaches, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, stomach pain and nausea. The majority of these symptoms are due to the body's reaction to dopamine reductions in the brain and may last for several days until all of the nicotine is out of the body. Once the nicotine is gone, the person may still need to overcome the habit of having something in their mouth or smoking after a meal.
Another form of smoking cessation is nicotine replacement therapy, or NRT. Nicotine replacement therapy works by delivering nicotine to the body through means other than cigarettes. Cigarettes contain harmful chemicals in addition to the habit-forming nicotine which makes nicotine replacement therapy a preferred way to provide nicotine while a person is trying to quit altogether. Some of the most common options for nicotine replacement therapy are lozenges, gum, nasal spray and inhalers. All deliver a measured dose of nicotine that can gradually be reduced so the nicotine withdrawal symptoms are not as severe.
Nicotine patches are a form of smoking cessation that also use nicotine replacement therapy. Each patch has a specific amount of nicotine that is administered transdermally, or through the skin. The patches are sold with different amounts of nicotine so the person can start with a higher dose and every few days or weeks move to a lower dose patch until she feels able to stop smoking.
Smoking cessation may also require prescription medications such as Chantix, Welbutrin, and Zyban. These medications are intended to reduce the physical side effects of quitting smoking in addition to providing an antidepressant for the psychological withdrawals a person may feel. Most of these medications require patients to start with a low dose a week to ten days prior to quitting smoking to allow the medications to get fully into their system. Once they quit smoking successfully, they are often slowly weaned off the medication until they can function without side effects.