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These Behavioral Therapies Can Help You Quit Smoking
You know how bad smoking is for you. You know that it could shorten your life significantly. And yet you can’t quit. Nicotine is one of the most addictive of all abused substances, and quitting it is extremely difficult. Despite this, most people attempt to quit without professional assistance. You wouldn’t ask a heroin addict to quit cold turkey, so why should you? It may seem unorthodox, but behavioral treatments used for other types of addictions, such as psychotherapy, could be just what you need to quit smoking.
Treatment for Nicotine Addiction
If you want to quit smoking, start with your doctor, who can guide you to resources for cessation programs. A common way that many people try to treat their addiction is with nicotine replacement therapy. This means using a patch, gum, inhaler or other type of delivery system for nicotine. The idea is that you can reduce withdrawal and cravings and slowly wean yourself from cigarettes. Another common strategy is to go cold turkey or to try certain other prescription drugs that don’t contain nicotine.
Behavioral Therapies to Help You Quit
Most people are not successful in quitting smoking. It’s hard to do, and as with other types of addiction, there is no real cure. Using medications like those for nicotine replacement can help, but they are not complete solutions. Behavioral therapies and interventions, combined with medications, give you a better chance of quitting for good. Here are some of the techniques and programs that could help you quit:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a classic type of psychotherapy and is commonly used for all kinds of conditions from addiction to depression. You will work with a trained therapist who will help you learn how to recognize negative thoughts and behaviors and change them. To do this, you may use strategies like self-monitoring, practicing self-control and exploring positive and negative consequences.
- Motivational enhancement therapy (MET). MET is a unique type of therapy that is short-term and uses techniques to help you quickly become intrinsically motivated to quit. Therapists practicing MET with you will use motivational interviewing, a strategy that is designed to engage you in conversation and uncover your reasons for being ambivalent about quitting.
- Contingency management. More often used with addictions to hard drugs like heroin, contingency management can work for smokers. It involves providing you with rewards for not smoking. This is not a common strategy for smoking cessation, but it has been used with smokers and has been proven to work.
- 12-step support. Programs based on the 12-step philosophy of addiction treatment are available for smokers and can be useful. The idea of a 12-step program is rooted in social support. You attend meetings with other people trying to quit smoking. You rely on each other for support, and especially on a sponsor — a smoker who has more experience in being nicotine-free. You can likely find support groups for smoking cessation in your community, but there are also many available online.
However you choose to quit smoking, the important thing is that you do it. Your best chance of being successful at quitting is if you enlist the help of professionals. Quitting cold turkey or totally on your own is not easy and will likely lead you back to your cigarettes. Find a counselor experienced in treating addiction and try some behavioral interventions. You might be surprised at how helpful it can be to work with a therapist to quit smoking.