How Health Care Professionals and Smoking Cessation Clinics Can Help
Smoking remains one of the primary risk factors for numerous major diseases, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory damage. Tobacco use can impair lung function and lead to common causes of death, like COPD and lung cancer, particularly cigarette smoking. In addition to the previously mentioned diseases, smoking can also lead to gastric ulceration and accelerate early menopause due to its antiestrogen effect. As higher numbers of people die of smoking-related diseases, it becomes more and more critical for healthcare professional to offer guidance and assistance to smoking patients.
How does Nicotine dependency work?
Being the most commonly used substance of abuse, it is essential to understand how nicotine becomes addictive and how people become dependant on it. Smoking cigarettes delivers nicotine to the brain, which causes a rewarding effect, described as mild euphoria and increased alertness. This effect is mediated through the same pathway that leads to other pleasurable activities like eating, by resulting in dopamine release. This process also produces a chronic secondary antagonism, which leads to developing tolerance and the need to consume repeated doses of nicotine periodically to achieve normal levels of functioning. Smoking, hence, becomes the only way to relieve withdrawal and regain the feeling of alertness and mild euphoria.
In some cases, this sort of dependency is associated with the ritual of smoking and not just the nicotine itself. There are also many external factors that can influence a person’s decision to take up smoking directly or indirectly; these include environmental conditions like lifestyle or stress, peer pressure, psychiatric disorders and socioeconomic status. Abstinence from smoking or using nicotine for even a few hours may lead to impatience, anger, difficulty concentrating and irritability.
How healthcare professionals and smoking cessation clinics help
Smoking cessation means sustained abstinence from smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products for a period of 6 months to a year. Quitting smoking at any age will help decrease the risk of smoking-related diseases and delay its progression if already existing. In addition to increasing life expectancy, smoking cessation support is also cost-effective when compared to any potential life-saving interventions. A combination of pharmacotherapy and behavioural therapy proved to be effective and helped smokers reach better results. One of the pharmacotherapy methods that help with smoking cessation is nicotine replacement therapy, which has been reported to double cessation rates in comparison to placebo. It helps satisfy smokers’ craves through substituting cigarettes with a safer form of delivering nicotine.
Many evidence point out the efficiency of professional interventions when it comes to smoking cessation. However, most smokers do not seek professional assistance when they decide to quit smoking. A large study found that verified quit rates for 12 months are 20% when a smoker consults specialist services. At the same time, unaided quit rate for at least 12 months is typically 3 to 4%, which means that using specialist services and seeking the aid of health care professionals when trying to quit smoking proves to be four times more successful than trying to quit unaided.
All healthcare professionals can take part in helping smokers quit through even short and quick counselling interventions, regardless of the patient’s reason for the visit. This can effectively help due to the positive and unique influence of healthcare professionals over their patients, which can successfully motivate them to quit smoking. In addition to advice and counselling, smoking cessation medication like NRT will make smoking cessation trials more likely to succeed.
Also read to know more on Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), here.
While using quit aids like NRT can double chances of success, a brief patient counselling will lead to even higher quit rates. To conclude, health care professionals and nicotine replacement therapy both play a significant role in aiding smokers to quit.