It is possible to stop smoking cigarettes forever, even for those people who think they are not able to. If for some people willpower is enough, for many others, the intervention of a specialized center can be very precious. With the support of doctors and health personnel, it will be possible to find those resources to stop smoking. Among the useful safeguards, there could also be a nicotine replacement therapy, ‘a non-exclusive tool that can help those people who want to quit smoking’, adds Dr. Licia Siracusano, oncologist and referent from the Anti-Smoking Center of Humanitas Cancer Center.
The substance that creates physical dependence is nicotine. By smoking, its receptors are activated: ‘Cigarette smoke and nicotine act directly on the brain because they increase nicotine receptors that require a constant supply’. By stopping smoking, the body no longer receives the amount of nicotine it was used to get and the urge to smoke grows. When the individual is no longer smoking, he begins to manifest abstinence symptoms, such as irritability, anxiety, restlessness and insomnia.
Nicotine replacement therapy can be useful to manage these crises: ‘Since the dependence arises from a physical receptor mechanism, the lack of nicotine induces the crisis. So nicotine replacement therapy can be effective because it continues to provide this substance to the receptors by keeping them “quiet” while the individual has eliminated cigarettes’.
The products available for those people who are trying to quit are varied: you can use patches, chewing gums or tablets containing nicotine. The important thing is to remember that it is a therapy: ‘It is a therapy that must be managed together with the doctor also in the context of the service offered by the anti-smoking center; the specialist will define times, doses and ways of assumption. In any case we cannot rely solely on substitution therapy – emphasizes the expert. Many people, for example, think that a patch of nicotine is enough to quickly eliminate cigarette addiction.
Of course it is not easy: ‘Replacement therapy helps, but it can’t be the only way to quit smoking. You can also resort to other drugs that target nicotine receptors, on the other hand, however, you need to reorganize your lifestyle and break the psychological dependence avoiding those situations that in the past were associated with smoking a cigarette’, Concludes Dr. Siracusano.