Support to quit smoking

Quitting smoking is the best thing that you can do for your health and has many other benefits too.

Quitting smoking isn't easy but with the right tools and support quitting smoking is possible and will be one of the most rewarding achievements of your life.

About quitting

Addiction cycle –why is it so hard to quit?

When you smoke you expose your body to nicotine and over 7000 harmful chemicals. Overtime your body gets used to having a certain level of nicotine; the addictive component in tobacco smoking. When your body does not receive the level of nicotine that it is relying on you can experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can include

  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Low mood
  • Trouble sleeping

As a smoker your body will constantly be going up and down in nicotine levels. So when you have a cigarette you can feel a sense of relaxation as you are relieving the withdrawal symptoms associated with not having an optimal level of nicotine.

Understanding the two sides of smoking

When you smoke your body begins to rely on nicotine to feel normal. This is described as the physical side of smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy or quit smoking medications can help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms. The other side to smoking is about the habits and routines that you associate with smoking, such as having a coffee and a cigarette together, or always smoking in specific situations such as with friends or after meals.

Preparation is key

Did you know that only 3-5% of people who quit smoking 'cold turkey' are successful six to 12 months later? Research shows that using a quitting smoking medication or nicotine replacement therapy in conjunction with a quit smoking plan to tackle the habit and routine side of smoking more than doubles your chances of quitting successfully. Speak with your doctor, health professional, pharmacists and the Quitline for help with planning to quit and getting started.

Signs of recovery – coping with withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms are a sign that your body is starting to recover. This is a good thing, but you don't have to battle withdrawal symptoms alone. Nicotine replacement therapy and quit smoking medications have been designed to take the edge off withdrawal symptoms increasing your likelihood of quitting smoking.

Nicotine replacement therapy

Nicotine replacement therapies including patches, lozenges, gum, inhalators, mouth spray, and mouth strips give your body some nicotine without all the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke. This allows your body to be more comfortable as you concentrate on developing a plan for the behavioural side of your smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy should be used for at least 8 weeks. You can get nicotine patches from your doctor on prescription which makes it cheaper than buying it at the supermarket or pharmacy.

Varenicline Tartate – Champix

Champix is a non-nicotine medication designed to block the nicotine receptors in the brain. Using Champix helps you manage your withdrawals from nicotine. You will need to get a prescription from your doctor to use Champix. The treatment course is 12 weeks.

Bupropion – Zyban

Zyban is a non-nicotine medication designed to work on the reward pathways in the brain to minimise nicotine withdrawal symptoms. You will need to get a prescription from your doctor to use Zyban. The treatment course is 9 weeks.

Managing weight gain

Quitting smoking doesn't automatically make you gain weight. About three-quarters of people who stop smoking do put on some weight – on average between 2 and 4 kg. Weight gain is mainly due to stopping nicotine. Nicotine can affect your weight in two ways. Nicotine reduces the appetite so when you quit smoking you may become hungrier. Nicotine also speeds up your metabolism so when you quit smoking your metabolism returns to normal. Often when people quit smoking they can turn to food as a substitute for smoking. This can also cause weight gain. However if you eat a healthy balanced diet, reduce high-fat and high-sugar foods and regularly exercise, weight gain can be minimised.

Managing stress

Smoking actually increases your stress levels. When you smoke your body gets used to having a certain level of nicotine. Over the course of a day your nicotine level drops between cigarettes and you can start to feel anxious and restless. When you have a cigarette those feelings are relieved and you can feel relaxed. It is the addiction cycle to nicotine that is actually causing the stress in the first place. There are much healthier and more effective ways to relax. Call the Quitline 13 7848 to talk about strategies to manage stress before you quit, so you are prepared.

If you can't stop straight away

People quit in different ways, so it is important to think about what way would suit you best. Some people prefer to cut down their smoking before quitting altogether. Others like to set a quit date and abruptly stop. Quit smoking medication and nicotine replacement therapy can be used to help you cut down and ease into quitting.

Quitline 13 7848 and your Health Professional

Research shows that smokers who continue to engage with the health professional supporting to quit are far more likely to quit successfully. Meeting with your health professional or speaking with a smoking cessation counsellor at Quitline 13 7848 can build motivation, help you to realise the benefits from quitting, and receive information and advice on medication and review ongoing strategies.

Quitline is a confidential over the telephone based service with experienced smoking cessation counsellors who can work with you to develop a personalise quitting plan. The Quitline counsellors are available from 7am to 10pm, 7 days a week to assist you. The smoking cessation counsellors use a confidential, non-judgemental approach and work alongside you to develop personalised strategies for quitting that will work for you. There is no pressure and you are always in the driver's seat.

At Quitline there is also a team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Counsellors available to provide support. The counsellors also have access to interpreting services so language is not a barrier to receiving Quitline support.

Give a counsellor a call on 13 7848 or go to Quitline to request a call back from a trained smoking cessation counsellor.

Start living the benefits of your smoke-free life today.

More information

See more information on quit smoking