Cold Turkey and Tobacco Addiction Part 1

Oct 1, 2016


Tobacco use is a prevalent problem in our society. It is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and contributes to over 480,000 deaths every year, meaning that 1 in every 5 premature deaths in this country are tied to tobacco use. However, getting people to stop smoking is a challenging public issue, as the dependency that is caused by nicotine is a lot more powerful than many people realize. However, some recent studies have suggested that many programs have the wrong idea about getting people to quit tobacco, and that simply stopping immediately might actually be the best option.

Stopping immediately has a higher success rate than “easing”

In a study published in the Annals of International Medicine, researchers showed that they had discovered a moderate difference in the success rate of smokers who tried to quit gradually, and those who simply stopped cold turkey. By the end of the 6 month trial period, 22% of subjects who stopped smoking immediately had quit entirely, compared to only 15.5% of the smokers who gradually stopped.

This is highly unique to tobacco addiction

It should be noted that this phenomenon is fairly unique to tobacco addiction. It is very much not recommended to try to get off of most substances by going cold turkey. The relative mild effects of tobacco in the short term make it possible to do so, although the cravings will still be quite intense. Other substances can have dangerous, and even lethal, consequences for those who try to stop using them, immediately.

As a whole on society, gradually quitting may be a better solution

Although this study showed a higher success rate for subjects who stopped using tobacco, immediately, there are other factors that must be considered that help us determine the best way to go about helping people quit smoking. First off is that this study must take into account that those willing to quit smoking immediately are probably more committed to quitting, overall. At the same time, many individuals who quit smoking, immediately, are also subjects that have tried quitting gradually, before. The study noted that those subjects that had tried to quit gradually in the past had been primed to quit.

This article is continued in Part 2.