Is Quitting Smoking Cold Turkey The Right Way?

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You’ve probably heard the term “cold turkey” used many times before when someone talks about quitting smoking or another addiction, but you may have wondered where the term comes from. The term “cold turkey” originates from the comparison of a cold turkey carcass, in that a person in extreme withdrawal looks and feels a bit like a cold turkey carcass. They feel cold, clammy and have goose bumps. Does this sound appealing? I don’t think so.

One of the hardest addictions to overcome is smoking. Nicotine addiction is often a chronic, relapsing condition and may take several serious quit attempts before reaching that final quit. Most smokers are both physically and psychologically addicted to smoking. There is only a 3% success rate with quitting cold turkey. The reason for the small success rate is because people are unable to bear the mental and physical withdrawal symptoms. When you stop smoking, nicotine withdrawal may make you feel frustrated, depressed, restless, irritable and unable to think clearly. The craving for just one cigarette may become overwhelming and unbearable to resist.

If you’re not quite ready to commit to quitting, then let’s do a comparison of benefits.

Benefits of Smoking:

1. ……..?

2. ……..?

3. ……..?

So the point here is there are NO benefits of smoking! However, there are many benefits to quitting, such as feeling better, smelling and looking better, and having more money in your bank account! You will also have more energy, plus will lower your risk of developing other diseases. Pancreatic, cervical, kidney and stomach cancer and leukemia can all be linked to smoking. Treating cancer, lung and heart disease, and other chronic illnesses resulting from tobacco use is responsible for over $170 billion per year in healthcare expenses from direct medical cost in the United States. Ouch!

One of the many reasons a smoker may choose to quit “cold turkey” is because of the cost of cessation aids. However, smoking cessation programs, such as Ochsner's Tobacco Cessation Clinics and Tobacco Control & Prevention Program, can offer services to the public to help them kick their smoking habit for good. Plus, Ochsner’s smoking cessation program is FREE!

Ochsner has partnered with the Smoking Cessation Trust to offer free counseling and medications for anyone wanting to make a healthy lifestyle change. To be a part of this free program, you must have started smoking prior to 1988 and be a Louisiana resident. If you believe that you fit into this category, please click here to visit Ochsner's Tobacco Control & Prevention Program website for more details and contact information.

The use of medications or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can be very helpful. In fact, one study shows that medicine and intensive counseling can increase your odds of quitting by 300%! Pharmacotherapy and counseling strategies are individualized to your current level of dependence, mental health status and quitting history.

The more you understand about smoking, how it affects you, and what to expect as you wean yourself from it, the better prepared you’ll be for success. When pure willpower and the right attitude aren’t enough to get you through the craving for a cigarette, talk with a smoking cessation specialist, such as one from Ochsner’s Tobacco Control & Prevention Program. We can help.

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