Overall, research shows that only about 6% of those who attempt to quit smoking will actually succeed. This is a rather demoralizing statistic – even when we’re discussing averages. Diving a bit more into it, we find out that people with a university degree have a 10% chance of successful cessation while those without it have around a 3.3% chance of succeeding.
One of the more interesting facts found by studies is that dark-skinned individuals are less likely to successfully quit smoking – it seems that nicotine has an affinity for skin that contains higher levels of melanin.
It’s obvious that successful smoking cessation depends on many variables – some methods won’t work for some people while others will and some smokers will get the best results from a combination of techniques.
That’s why it’s difficult to calculate which method works best. It always depends on the type of the smoker and the circumstances surrounding their addiction.
Smoking Cessation Success Rates – Methods
Unassisted cessation – also dubbed ‘quitting cold turkey’ is a method by which smokers quit cigarettes without substituting nicotine with anything else. That means no nicotine replacement therapies and no drugs. Research shows that his is the most prevalent method of quitting smoking in the United States. Close to 90% of Americans quit cold turkey when they decide to try to quit. While the method stays the same, people’s reasons to quit smoking cold turkey all generally fall into three categories:
- Impulsive decision
- Quitting because they feel sick and then keeping up with it
- Doctor advice (ultimatum – usually a requirement for surgery or a near death experience)
Some experts note that unassisted cessation is the most reliable method of quitting. Smokers who manage to quit cold turkey often manage to sustain that for over a year without relapsing. Some research shows that the majority of long-term former smokers actually quit without assistance from NRT or medication. Furthermore, there is a justified fear that smokers using NRT can get rid of cigarettes only to find themselves addicted to nicotine gums or patches.
Assisted cessation – assisted cessation is cessation with the assistance of nicotine replacement therapy – nicotine gums, patches, inhalers, or other. 25 to 30% of people who use NRT during first weeks of cessation are not going to relapse in the first 6 months – a higher percentage when compared to results cold turkey quitting yields. Around 35% of people who use nicotine suppressant drugs will stay cigarette-free for at least 6 months.
Other methods – even though everyone knows someone who swears by hypnosis therapy or acupuncture as the best methods for smoking cessation, this still remains to be confirmed by science. There is currently no data available.
However, most studies show that important ingredients of cessation success stories are personal determination and a strong support network. That’s why it’s important to visualize all the benefits you’re going to reap once you quit smoking and to have your friends and family in your corner, supporting you and encouraging you throughout the entire process.
Quit Smoking Success Stories
Quitting smoking can be a scary period of life. It can also be lonely. Surrounding yourself with family members and friends who are supportive is important but sometimes they can’t relate to what you’re going through. That’s why we’ve collected a couple of success stories from people who went through the entire difficult process themselves. The internet is full of them so if you ever feel lonely go online and read, you will be surprised how many people are willing to share.
Nate started smoking in high school along with, it seemed, every other teenage boy. It was cool back then. But the habit stuck. As a young adult, he realized that he was hurting his health – his throat was constantly swollen and his doctor told him it was going to take an exploratory surgery to find out the cause.
‘I’ve tried to quit before, many times’ – says Nate. ‘I would manage for couple of hours but then the cravings would start, followed by anxiety and irritability.’ But after talking to his doctor Nate decided that enough was enough. He gave his last pack of cigarettes to his friend and that was it.
It was difficult, especially because he was a heavy smoker, accustomed to smoking while driving and after meals. Nate says that drinking plenty of fluids and talking to his supportive girlfriend made all the difference in the world. Everything became easier after three weeks. He noticed that his smoking triggers weren’t as overwhelming as they’ve used to be and he was able to cope more easily. It’s been two years since he stopped smoking. ‘My throat is better – it’s no longer swollen and I don’t cough in the morning. Feeling healthier gave me the power I needed to push through.’
Adrian was a smoker for 30 years. It all changed in 2003 when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. ‘My doctor told me that, as a smoker, I was 10 times more likely to end up with kidney cancer than if I were a non-smoker. I quit the following day and went home with nicotine patches and nicotine nasal spray. Two years later I was still using the nicotine nasal spray’ – Adrian says.
After seeing how ridiculous it was, he decided to quit NTR as well. He went straight back to cigarettes. ‘I’m not proud of it. I quit again in 2009 after smoking a half-smoked cigarette my colleague left in the ashtray – like a tramp! My behavior disgusted me and I decided to quit for good.’
He is still a former smoker but he wishes his wife would stop too. She was supportive of him during their first cessation attempt and even quit herself but today she occasionally smokes.
‘Life is unbelievably good without cigarettes and I can’t believe I’ve smoked for so long, even after everything I’ve gone through. I want to encourage everyone to try hard and never stop trying. It’s possible!’
‘I was a smoker for a long time – I started when I was only 15 years old. In 2010 I was diagnosed with both breast cancer and lymphoma.’ This is April’s story. April managed to quit for 3 weeks after that heartbreaking diagnosis and was using patches to fight the cravings. But then she caved again. ‘My son had an accident and I used it to start smoking again. Looking back on it now I realize it was only an excuse’ – she says.
On May 19th, 2016 she suffered from shortness of breath and a severe cough. ‘I was scared to death. I decided that that was it. I prayed to God to help me and I told my husband to get rid of my cigarettes. That was one month ago! You have to realize something – I’ve always said that I could never quit smoking cold turkey. No way! But it’s been a month now and I feel a lot better. My family is proud of me and I’m proud of myself too!’
‘If I can do it, so can you’ – continues April. It gets easier with time and you will feel so much better after just a few days. Good luck all!’
Each of these stories is difficult. They shows you that people are stubborn and unable to face facts – that smoking kills them and those around them – even in the face of serious medical issues. But they are also a testament to the power of determination! These people all cave but they were able to pick themselves up and start over again. Use their story as a reminder that it’s failing – once or several times – doesn’t mean you can’t eventually succeed. Every time you try to quit you learn something new about yourself and you prepare yourself for your next attempt. The day when you will finally succeed is close – don’t give up!