Quitting Smoking: The Pros and Cons of Using Pills

    getty_rm_photo_of_woman_cutting_cigarettes_with_scissorsFor many mothers, the new year is inevitably a time for self-reflection; both on the events of the previous year and on life in general. It is a time to look back fondly on the highs, try to take lessons from the lows and find ways to improve life for yourself and the rest of your family. One common practice is for people to set themselves new year’s resolutions in a bid for self-improvement and one of the most popular new year’s resolutions chosen, especially by those with children, is to quit smoking.

    Uphill Battle
    The British psychologist Richard Wiseman conducted a survey in 2007, which found that 88% of all new year’s resolutions fail. Furthermore, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69% of American smokers wanted to quit in 2010, more than half attempted to quit and a mere 6.2% were actually successful in doing so. Therefore, statistically at least, smokers who make quitting their new year’s resolution are fighting an uphill battle.

    Yet, regardless of the statistics, it is a challenge that many women are determined to take on. After all, while the statistics do not make for pleasant reading, there are those who manage to successfully shake the habit and the rewards for doing so are massive. Quitting smoking is not an exact science and there are many methods available to people looking to give up cigarettes. An increasingly common method, however, is the avoidance of any nicotine through the use of pills to help suppress the appetite. So how do these pills work and what are the pros and cons of using them?

    How Does the Medication Work?
    Medication for quitting smoking, such as Chantix, is free from nicotine itself, but works by stimulating the receptors in the brain which respond to nicotine. Research into the medicine, outlined in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that these pills “the potential to aid smoking cessation by relieving nicotine withdrawal symptoms and reducing the rewarding properties of nicotine.” In layman’s terms, the tablets serve to both reduce the pleasure gained from smoking and weaken the unpleasant side-effects of nicotine withdrawal.

    After an initial period on a lower dosage, the tablets are taken with water, twice a day, after meals and the recommended length of time to take the tablets for is twelve weeks. After the twelve week period is up, use of the medication is sometimes recommended for a second twelve week period in order to increase the chances of qutting for good.

    Almost any method of quitting smoking has both pros and cons and it is important to assess both in order to get a balanced view.

    The Pros of Using Medication
    By far the biggest plus point of using medication like Chantix is its impact upon the success rate of people trying to quit smoking. It has a proven ability to help people to turn away from cigarettes. The afforementioned JAMA study found that it was more efficient both in the short and long term than either a placebo or bupropion. In addition, studies have found that it can more than double your chances of successfully giving up cigarettes.

    Moreover, the lack of nicotine contained in the medication is a pro in itself. Rather than replacing the source of the nicotine, the pills instead work to suppress the need for nicotine entirely. The absence of nicotine also prevents toxicity problems if you do still smoke.

    Finally, the tablets are incredibly easy to use, especially in comparison to certain other products, such as patches. They are taken at the same time every day and can be taken easily, regardless of whether you are at home, at work or outside. The ease of use makes adaptation simple and increases the chances of sticking with the medication.

    The Cons of Using Medication
    Unfortunately, however, there are certain drawbacks to the use of these medications and perhaps the biggest one of all is the potential for side-effects. The possible side effects of these drugs are so severe that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that they should contain a black box warning, in order to make people fully aware of the potential dangers. Amongst the possible side effects are mood changes, worsening of mental illnesses and suicidal thoughts. Less serious ones include headaches and trouble sleeping. It’s important to note that these side effects are rare and will certainly not affect most people. But, as a result of the risk they pose, people are advised to talk to a doctor before taking the tablets.

    People working in certain occupations will also be unable to take the medication. For instance, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned pilots from taking the tablets due to the fear of side effects in terms of concentration.

    Lastly, at an average price of $4 a day, they may seem cheap, especially in comparison to other options like nasal sprays and nicotine gum. However, those other methods tend to be used for a shorter length of time and so the eventual cost of pills may be higher.

    Quitting smoking is an admirable goal and a popular one amongst parents. Seeing as it is a tough goal to accomplish, it is understandable that people would want to find ways to make the process easier. Taking medication for smoking cessation is one of those methods and it is becoming increasingly common.

    Although the danger of side effects is present and should not be ignored, if you speak to a physician and it is decided that you are a good candidate to take smoking cessation medication, there is significant medical evidence to suggest that it will provide a major helping hand. In fact, research suggests it will make you more than twice as likely to quit smoking for good as someone using no treatments at all.

    However, it is important to weigh up the pros and cons against your own specific life circumstances before deciding to use this medication.