Health Team

Ready to quit smoking? Options available

Posted January 6, 2010 5:40 p.m. EST
Updated January 6, 2010 6:19 p.m. EST

Cigarettes contain thousands of poisons, including formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, which can be deadly, according to Health Team physician Dr. Allen Mask.

However, it is the nicotine that keeps smokers addicted, Mask said. Nicotine stimulates the release of dopamine, a substance in the brain that creates a pleasurable feeling. Stopping nicotine causes withdrawal symptoms, which include restlessness, irritability and difficulty sleeping.

Some people are more prone to addiction, Mask said. They may have a genetic disposition for addiction. People whose parents smoke are twice as likely to become addicted to cigarettes. Also, people suffering from depression or other forms of mental illness are more likely to smoke.

The younger a person is when he or she starts smoking, the more likely he or she is to become addicted, doctors say.

Smokers should not count on quitting "cold turkey.” Most people need professional help. Medications like nicotine-replacement therapy, anti-depressants and Chantix are also often used.

Another method to stop smoking is to seek counseling, support groups or smoking cessation programs.

Looking to quit smoking? Here are some resources to help:

National Cancer Institute – tobacco quit line 1-800-784-8669
American Cancer Society: Quitting Smoking