Wean Off Cigarettes vs ‘Cold Turkey’ to Quit Nicotine Addiction

Every cigarette smoker, particularly those who have smoked for a long time, will at some point or the other think of and want to quit. However, deciding upon the best approach for quitting can be confusing – some argue that weaning off nicotine is the best option while others prefer going ‘cold turkey’. Many smokers would have tried one or the other and possibly not experienced success but both methods has its pros and cons. Going ‘cold turkey’ means to suddenly quit cigarettes or other nicotine products altogether whereas ‘weaning off’ means gradually reducing the quantity and frequency of cigarettes and nicotine products over a period of time.

 Weaning Off Cigarettes

Stepping down the consumption involves first identifying your current daily consumption. There is no point being misleading about this as the only person you will be lying to is yourself. This can seriously hamper the success of your smoking cessation endeavor. When weaning off cigarettes or nicotine products, one should work on a weekly schedule. Rushing through it can quickly lead to failure. Ideally the consumption should be reduced by one-third of the previous week until a point is reached where you can feel certain that you can do without it entirely.

For example, a person who is smoking 20 cigarettes a day will reduce cigarette consumption to 14 to 15 cigarettes per day for week one. This will then be further reduced to 10 cigarettes per day in week two. By week three the consumption will be about 7 cigarettes a day. Week four around 4 cigarettes a day. As you can see, this is a 30% reduction per week. If you feel that you are about to “slip off the bandwagon”, it is best to return to a higher consumption level where you are comfortable until you reach the point where you are willing to reduce the consumption again.

Gradually reducing your cigarette consumption and the use of nicotine products requires a predetermined schedule and discipline. Since the cigarettes or nicotine products are in your hand, it is easy to fall off track and consume more than was laid out for the day. Many feel that this is the best route to reduce the withdrawal symptoms of quitting but it is best to consult with a doctor or pharmacist and discuss suitable nicotine replacement products that can help you along.

Quitting Cold Turkey

This method often arises suddenly rather than being planned. You may decide to quit tomorrow and throw out your pack of cigarettes last thing in the evening or you suddenly wake up one morning and decide you no longer want to smoke. Not surprisingly, it often comes about with a health scare or after a night of excesses. Quitting cold turkey is not for every person. It requires a significant amount of discipline especially if you are frequently exposed to other smokers. Many who have successfully quit will confirm that it is the hardest method to overcome a cigarette smoking addiction. It is often useful to keep track of each day that you stay away from cigarettes and mark it clearly as a means of motivating yourself on day-to-day basis.

Using a nicotine replacement product to replace your cigarette smoking is not considered as ‘cold turkey’. Many people opt for snacks, gum or candy to replace the cigarettes with regards to the psychological dependence of having something in the hand or mouth. However, this should be used cautiously and can often contribute to weight gain during the quitting phase. Most cigarette smokers report the most intense withdrawal symptoms within the first 10 days of quitting, and this gradually eases over days and weeks. However, the craving may persist for weeks, months or rarely even for years.

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