How Nicotine Replacement Products Feed the Habit

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You’re finally ready to quit, and you know you need a plan. If you consult your doctor or start Googling for advice on the best way to quit, odds are good you’ll quickly find a recommendation for nicotine replacement therapy. Popularly known as NRT, these gums, patches, and inhalers are designed to take the edge out of quitting smoking. And that promise is devastatingly tempting. After all, what smoker doesn’t want to quit pain-free? But the only way to quit without suffering is to change your thinking; NRT does nothing to accomplish this, and a large mountain of evidence suggests that NRT may actually hinder your ability to quit.

 The Biology of Nicotine Addiction

Before you can successfully quit, it’s important to understand what it is you’re actually addicted to. It’s not the smoke. After all, no one in their right mind would ever willingly inhale smoke, toxins, and a cornucopia of tar. Nicotine is your problem, and research shows that the overwhelming majority of smokers are addicted to nicotine. Your addiction to nicotine is no joke; it affects how your brain processes your feelings and undermines your physical health.

The good news, though, is that while nicotine is powerful, it won’t have you in its grip for long. Nicotine completely leaves your body within a few days of quitting, and the withdrawal symptoms are usually worst about two to three days after you ditch the habit. Even if you do nothing to change the way you think about smoking, physical cravings should be gone within a week.

That is, unless you rely on nicotine replacement therapy. With nicotine replacement therapy, you’re replacing one device for administering nicotine — the cigarette — with another. This means that you’re doing nothing to give up your addiction, and without interventions that alter the way you think about smoking and nicotine, you’re also doing nothing to change the problematic way you think about smoking. Like all smokers, you are an addict. NRT merely allows you to continue pretending you’re not an addict, and this increases your odds of relapsing.

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Undermining Your Quit Attempt

Most smokers continue smoking not because they want to, or even because they particularly enjoy cigarettes, but because they feel like they need cigarettes to feel normal. It’s nicotine that causes these feelings, and the cause of a problem cannot also be its solution. Although health officials continue to recommend NRT, study after study proves that this treatment is ineffective. One recent study, for example, found that people who use NRT have no better luck quitting than people who use another method or no method at all. Despite the increasing prevalence of a bevy of NRT products, quitting cold turkey still remains the most popular and most effective method for ditching the habit for good. Indeed, one recent review found that smokers who quit cold turkey are 48 times more likely to succeed than those who rely on patches and gums.

Many smokers ignore this data, though, and decide to use NRT because they’re terrified of the effects of quitting. People who have committed themselves to quitting deserve better, though. The truth is that NRT will only make your quit attempt worse. Why? You’ll still be getting nicotine, but not enough to satisfy your cravings. This means you’ll be coping with the pain of giving up the habit of smoking at the same time that you’re going through nicotine withdrawal. But unlike the smoker who opts to go cold turkey, your continued use of nicotine will prolong the withdrawal. Some smokers use NRT products for months, and a few even stay on them for years. This can prolong withdrawal indefinitely, leaving people who rely on NRT with the impression that quitting smoking not only has to be painful, but that the pain has to last for months.

A Better Way to Quit

The Kerry Gaynor Method helps you quit by changing the way you think about smoking and nicotine. Cigarettes aren’t your friends; they’re enemies that undermine your health. You don’t need the smoking habit anymore, and the truth is that you never really did. When you keep using nicotine, though, you convince your brain that you can’t give up this powerful drug. And that feeds the cycle of addiction, even if you’re somehow able to white-knuckle your way into a miserable sobriety from cigarettes.

Whether you use The Kerry Gaynor Method or not, changing the way you think about nicotine is the first step toward quitting. Nicotine — whether through a cigarette or from a patch — is not going to help you quit, and jumping on the NRT bandwagon is a lot like telling yourself you just need “one more puff.” You don’t. Instead, focus on reshaping your thinking.

Remind yourself that nicotine doesn’t stay in your body forever, which means that withdrawal symptoms are fleeting — no matter how bad they feel to smokers who opt not to use The Kerry Gaynor Method. Every moment that you are able to avoid consuming nicotine is an investment in your long-term sobriety. It’s an investment that pays off quickly.

In just a few short days, you can be smoke-free forever. Your life is worth a few short days, and you deserve better than to waste your money and health on a quit smoking method that fails.

Roxana Saidi

In June 2011, Roxana became the third founding team member of The Kerry Gaynor Method. Kerry’s mission to rid the world of cigarettes was a very personal one as many of her friends and acquaintances had already quit smoking thanks to Kerry. Roxana regards her role at the company not as a position, but instead as a leader in a movement to eradicate death, suffering and illness due to cigarettes.

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