For those people whom are serious about kicking their habit there is good news. Modern medicine and research have developed therapies that can assist the sufferer with the control of the symptoms of withdrawal from some substances.
Giving-Up SmokingAlong with the advice and support offered by smoking cessation personnel and help groups there are ways of making the transition from smoker to non-smoker even easier.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)There are a great many products available to help control the withdrawal of nicotine and the dosage can be reduced until the person can manage without it. Nicotine replacement can be found in a number of delivery systems.
PatchesNicotine patches are adhesive squares that are placed onto clean and dry fleshy areas of skin and are designed to give slow release doses of nicotine. They can vary in dose and the most appropriate strength must be used which is dependent on the brand and amount of cigarettes smoked in normal behaviour.
They are good for reducing cravings and for controlling the other symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
GumNicotine gum is similar to chewing gum, though obvious with a different taste that not only helps with cravings due to its fast administration, but it also helps to keep the mouth busy as it would be with cigarettes.
Tablets/lozengesThese are placed under the tongue and absorbed into the blood stream. They act quickly and are therefore good for immediate cravings that are difficult to overcome.
InhalersThese have the benefit of acting as a replacement cigarette and can offer an almost immediate nicotine ‘hit’ as the nicotine is breathed into the back of the mouth and throat, without the nasty chemicals of cigarettes being inhaled. The downside is that it may be harder to reduce the usage of an inhaler as it is so similar to the real thing.
Along with nicotine replacement therapy, there are other methods of replacement that can be used to help quit smoking.There are a great number of herbal remedies available in health food shops, on the internet or even offered in magazine supplements that profess to help with cravings and withdrawal. There is little evidence that these substances are either beneficial or non-advantageous, so do exercise caution before parting with any monies.
Your GP may recommend the use of a drug called Zyban to you. This drug is only available on prescription after assessment of the person due to the strict criteria needed before taking this drug. It acts on the brain and interferes with nerve processes. It has a different action and purpose to nicotine replacement therapy but has seen some good results so far. It comes in tablet form and should be used in combination with other support techniques.
If you have any cardiac or cardio-vascular medical history it is important to seek medical advice before commencing any type of new therapy.
Opioid AddictionFor those who are determined to give-up their drug habit, there are alternatives available to help, though honesty and willingness are key to the success of these products.
MethadoneMethadone is the treatment of choice for addicts of opioid drugs including heroin and morphine.It has the same chemical effects on the brain, though does not carry the same ‘high’. It also allows the person to change their behaviours and social networks whilst keeping withdrawal under control.
It is safe to use long-term and is best reduced very slowly to avoid relapse.Methadone causes no serious side-effects, is legal, must be prescribed and will be provided following assessment from your GP or community drugs support team (or equivalent).
It must be noted that complete compliance and a willingness to change are crucial to the success of this therapy.
BuprenorphineSimilar to methadone, this drug reduces the symptoms of withdrawal and is indicated for those whom cannot use methadone. This drug is given in tablet form.
Alcohol WithdrawalThose suffering from an addiction to alcohol should be aware that if levels of consumption are particularly high, the indications for stopping completely at once are not advised.
A drug called Disulfiram can be prescribed to help offer additional support at times when cravings are difficult to control. If this drug is taken and alcohol continues to be used, the side-effects are quite unpleasant.
If you have an addiction and are serious about wanting to give-up, please speak to your GP or local support group to find out about therapies available to you.