A Doctor's Dilemma: How to Help A Smoking Patient Quit


Physicians and dentists are always trying to find ways to motivate their patients to quit smoking. Since they view the many harmful effects of smoking every day, they are increasingly aware of the consequences of the tobacco habit, but it seems that their options for helping their patients to quit smoking are getting more and more limited.
Since the 1990's, nicotine patches have become a mainstay in the fight against smoking. Even though the patches do not really cure the addiction to nicotine, they at least prevent the smoker form ingesting the many harmful chemicals and tars contained in cigarettes. Of, course, there are also the various gums, lozenges and sprays that all fall under the same heading as the patches - Nicotine Replacement Therapy of NRT. The use of these products provide a constant dose of the nicotine poison into the body so that the demand for additional nicotine is satisfied and the patient is not likely to need another cigarette.
A recent study conducted at Harvard Medical School and published in January or 2012, concluded that NRT products have been found to be "ineffective in promoting long-term smoking cessation" among the study group. This finding has been sad news for many doctors as these products have been a primary recommendation of most physician and dentists for the past several years.

To most doctors, the elimination of the NRT option leaves the drug options of vernicline and bupropion, both of which have many harmful and potential dangerous side effects. It seems that a doctor can hardly read a medical journal these days without learning of the many class action lawsuits against the makers of these drugs. Just reading the warnings adjacent to the drug ads or listening to the warnings on the TV ads, you can learn that these drugs have been linked to severe cases of anxiety, depression, suicide and even death. Of course, physicians are constantly reminded of their oath to "first, do no harm".
The remaining options are not so easy for a physician or dentist as they involve some level of psychological counseling, which few MD's or DMD's are trained to provide. They can, however, refer the smoking patient to a qualified psychologist who specializes in treating addiction. This is expensive and time-consuming for the patient, but can be very effective.
The Smokenders smoking cessation program has been around since 1969 and has been successful in assisting more than one million smokers to quit the habit. The author is one of these people. The course is designed to address the psychological, sociological and cultural aspects of smoking in addition to weaning the smoker completely off of the nicotine poison. Since this program uses no NRT products or potentially risky drugs, it has now become a primary option for doctors and dentists to recommend to their patients who smoke.
The major problem of motivation remains, Smokers cannot be cajoled, scared or threatened into quitting. they can only be successful at doing so when they have made a firm commitment. Getting a smoker to make such a commitment remains the most difficult part of quitting smoking.

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About Olumide Owaduge

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