Quitting smoking all at once has been the standard advice. But it is probably not better than quitting gradually. An international group of researchers and clinicians reviewed the data recently. They found that a more gradual approach is just as effective as picking a quit day. And it may appeal to you more.
The authors reviewed 10 randomized controlled studies (RCT). RCTs are best for testing the effectiveness of any treatment. There were 3,760 participants altogether. Each study compared quitting suddenly to stopping gradually.
Quit rates were about the same either way. Some smokers used nicotine replacement therapy. Many didnt. Some joined a support group. Others quit on their own. The results were pretty consistent no matter what the smokers did.
Unfortunately, another sad reality was confirmed. You are not alone. Most people were unable to kick the habit after one try.
Regarding gradual quitters, 202 of 1,979 smokers (10.2%) remained cigarette-free for at least six months. That compared to 192 of 1,781 smokers (10.7%) who quit smoking abruptly.
Smokers who want to quit have several options. Research suggests that combining methods boosts the odds of quitting. For example, combine a support group with nicotine replacement therapy.
Medications can help. But the review did not look at those options.
Bupropion (Zyban) is an antidepressant that is used to help smokers quit. It may work by curbing nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Doctors often recommend combining bupropion with nicotine replacement therapy.
Another option is varenicline (Chantix). This drug imitates nicotine while also blocking some of its effects. That lessens craving in some smokers.
Smoking is so harmful to your health that your doctor will be eager to discuss options with you. Make sure to review the pros and cons of every option.
And whatever you do, keep trying. Many smokers make multiple attempts before succeeding.