Breaking the grip of tobacco

Smoking is a powerful addiction. Quitting takes practice, patience and support.

No one but a smoker or ex-smoker can understand how hard it really is to quit. For most, it takes more than willpower alone. If you’ve tried to quit smoking and weren’t successful, try again. Every quit attempt is a win. If you’re a current smoker, you can become a former one. Providence Health Plan can help.

Why is it so hard?

The answer lies with nicotine. Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs we know, and one of the hardest drugs to overcome, says Charles Bentz M.D., with Providence Health & Services award-winning smoking cessation program. Each puff sends nicotine to the brain in seconds, making you feel pleasure or calm. If the brain stops getting the nicotine it wants, it triggers an intense craving for more.

"Cravings make it difficult to stop smoking, and prescription medications can help," says Dr. Bentz. "But the reality is – you don’t become a smoker overnight. Smoking is a behavior learned over time and often associated with daily activities. Overcoming cravings and reversing those hard-wired habits lead to success in quitting."

Toss the tobacco

Talk to your doctor about wanting to quit. Ask him or her about effective prescription medicines, including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), bupropion SR (Zyban®) or varenicline (Chantix™), which all work directly on the brain, helping reduce the urge to smoke.

While medications are very effective in curbing cravings, a pill alone doesn’t always lead to quitting successfully. Smoking is both a physical and behavioral addiction, and getting support is important. "Quitting is learning how to be an ex-smoker," says Dr. Bentz. "Give yourself the best shot at quitting. Combine medications with programs that support behavior change – such as a support group, one-on-one counseling or a class."

We can help

Providence Health Plan members can take advantage of discounted smoking cessation resources. Members can access award-winning support groups, telephone counseling and classes with free medications.