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Does Quitting “Cold Turkey” Actually Work?

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Quitting cigarettes is hard and can often take several attempts. This isn’t because smokers lack willpower; it’s because nicotine is extremely addictive, and withdrawal symptoms (like anxiety and irritability) can be intense.

For someone who’s tried to quit smoking a few times already, going “cold turkey” (which basically means stopping cigarettes all at once and then just white-knuckling it through withdrawal symptoms), may seem like the easiest way to finally be done with cigarettes, but there are some big drawbacks to this method.

Why a Quitting Plan with Behavioral Support is Better Than Cold Turkey

“Most people who try to quit smoking “cold turkey” are very determined and eager to quit at the beginning, then when the intense cravings hit, they relapse and feel worse about themselves and their habit,” says Margaret Linn, addiction counselor and the tobacco dependence specialist at Amethyst Recovery Center in Florida.

According to Linn, developing a plan that covers both the physical and psychological issues that come with quitting has more possibilities for success in the long term. The CDC agrees, citing evidence that using both counseling and some kind of medication during a quit journey is more successful than doing only one of those things.

Linn advises her patients to take the time to develop a strategy before tossing their cigarettes. In addition to picking a quit date, developing a strong support system, and stocking up on oral substitutes (like sugar free gum or sugar-free candy), Linn recommends adding nicotine replacement products to the mix.

Nicotine Replacement Products Help Improve Success

“Nicotine replacements, while not a cure-all, can help lessen withdrawal symptoms and increase one’s success rate,” says Linn. And studies agree with her. According to a review done by Oxford University, nicotine replacement products have been shown to “increase the rate of quitting” by 50 to 70 percent.

If you’re looking for a nicotine replacement product that’s easy to use and designed to help you at every stage of your quitting journey, try the Nicoderm CQ patch. It releases a steady flow of nicotine throughout the day and night, relieving your cravings1 and helping you reach that long-term success you’ve been searching for.

1Craving relief associated with quitting smoking. Individual results vary.