Quitting Tobacco: Non-medication Methods

Author: Christina Bach, MBE, LCSW, OSW-C
Last Reviewed:

Nicotine is an addictive ingredient found in tobacco products. Nicotine binds to receptors in your brain and increases the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps you feel pleasure. Not having nicotine can also change your mood. Some people who quit smoking become depressed. This may be because the levels of dopamine in their brain is affected by the lack of nicotine.

Nicotine remains in your body for a short period of time. Not having nicotine can cause cravings for it. This can make it hard to quit tobacco use. There are a few things that can help you quit tobacco use. These are:

This article will focus on non-medication options to help you quit tobacco. They are safe and effective for most people. Talk with your healthcare provider about your plan for quitting or about any past experiences trying to quit. Together you can make a plan based on what did or did not work before. Often, using more than one approach to quitting can help you be successful. 

Non-medication options focus on support and types of therapy. These can help with understanding the behaviors associated with your tobacco use, as well as managing cravings. Non-medication support is also important if you “slip” and start using tobacco again. It can help you manage your feelings, address the challenges you have with quitting and celebrate your successes.

  • Telephone counseling, support groups, text messaging, and apps help you to connect with others who are also trying to quit and professionals who can provide support. 
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you manage mood changes and cope with cravings you may have when you stop using tobacco. It can also help you understand your habits related to your tobacco use and sustain your motivation to quit. CBT may be covered by your health insurance. To find a CBT provider, click here. You can also learn more about finding a therapist here.
  • Contests and incentives are often used by employers to help their workers be successful with quitting. There may also be a cost incentive in your health insurance premiums if you quit smoking.
  • Hypnosis may help some but the evidence for how or why it works is not well known. If you want to try hypnosis, be sure to use a licensed professional with training in hypnotherapy.
  • Acupuncture, acupressure, laser therapy, and electro-stimulation have also been used to help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Like hypnotherapy, the research on these methods is limited. 

It is important to use more than one strategy when it comes to quitting tobacco use. Learn more about NRT and non-nicotine medications to help improve your success. 

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