The month of ‘Stoptober’ – a Public Health campaign that encourages smokers to give up for 28 days of the month, apparently making them five times more likely to quit. However going cold turkey doesn’t always work for everyone. Here we investigate some of the available alternatives from smoking vapes or herbs, to using therapy and patches.
Vaporisers + E-cigs
Vapourisers and E-cigs are an electronic device that heats up e-liquid into a vapour similar to steam. The difference between the two is that E-cigs are set up to look like a cigarette. You can get nicotine-free versions and one of the more popular options catching on is a CBD vape. This is an extract from the Hemp plant that is said to be useful in reducing stress and anxiety.
As vaporisers are rechargeable and bottles of e-liquid can last long, they are a fairly cost-effective solution. They aren’t completely risk-free but as they don’t produce tar or carbon monoxide, they carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes. The liquid and vapour do still carry some of the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes (of which there are 7000 in tobacco smoke), although at a much lower level.
CBT & Brain Training Apps
Going beyond nicotine addiction, smoking is also a habit caused by learned behaviours. Nicotine patches can help with the physical symptoms of nicotine cravings, however sometimes therapy is needed to change the way your brain thinks about and acts on an addiction.
CBT aka Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is currently the gold standard when it comes to tackling an addiction and is even more effective when combined with a nicotine replacement like patches and gum. No longer do you have to spend time and money seeing an expensive therapist, these days it can all be done at your convenience and from the comfort of your own home. Apps like Quit Genius make it easier and more engaging to begin the process of effectively quitting long term, helping you to reduce negative feelings such as anxiety in the process.
The best thing about these apps is that they can be personalised according to the user and their individual motivations, even if you are only thinking about quitting and haven’t started just yet. Having assistance during the preparatory stages of quitting, can be just as useful in ensuring a long term outcome. Many people also find that mindfulness practice helps them cope with cravings and stress, a great app for this is Headspace.
Despite not containing the nicotine or tobacco that cigarettes do, the herbal matter still burns to produce tar, carbon monoxide and other toxins associated with cancer. Some of the herbs used include passion flower, corn silk, liquorice root, jasmine, ginseng, spearmint and raspberry leaf. Smoking liquorice in particular, can have the effect of raising blood pressure. Some people may also have allergies to some of the herbs used.
One positive is that they do present a viable way to break nicotine addiction, provided you use the versions that do not contain any tobacco. Another argument is that certain herbs can also have beneficial properties, for example Mullein is said to soothe inflamed lungs, alleviate coughing and congestion. Wild Oat is also said to be popular for joint pains. However many would say that the effects of inhaling smoke negate this.
Patches + Gum
Compared to going full on cold turkey, patches can boost your chances of quitting smoking, especially when combined with gum or lozenges. Despite nicotine being addictive, it is still far safer and healthier than a cigarette.
Picking and choosing what works for you, the best solution is usually a combination of the above, finding methods that can gradually lower the health risks, until you are fully nicotine and tobacco-free.