stop smoking chicago

Stop Smoking Chicago

In Chicago and trying to stop smoking? Are you looking for practical information on how to kick the habit but are not sure where to turn? Hoping to find honest answers and gain some support along the way?

If so, you are not alone. Each year, thousands of people in the Chicagoland area make the decision to quit smoking because they realize the need to create positive change.

If you have tried to stop smoking in the past, you likely know that it can be a struggle. The truth is, quitting smoking and staying quit are two entirely different constructs. Anyone who tries to tell you quitting is a cakewalk simply isn’t leveling with you. There’s no such thing as a quick fix.

Stop Smoking Facts

The clinical research suggests that only about 4-7% of people who attempt to quit smoking on their own are able to remain smoke-free for greater than six months, according to the American Cancer Society. Those who engage in counseling and other emotional support programs have found much higher rates of success.

When you combine nicotine replacement therapy (aka the patch) along with emotional support as previously mentioned (i.e. counseling), the success rates increase significantly.

Don’t Fall For Stop Smoking Gimmicks

If you are thinking of stopping smoking, it may be tempting to reach for gimmicks that promise quick and easy solutions with minimal pain. Who wouldn’t want that?

Here is the truth …

When you make the decision to stop smoking, you are going up against a powerful chemical dependency (addiction) that encompasses three areas:

  • Psychological
  • Emotional
  • Physical

Let’s take a look at all three.

threee things sympathy message

1. Psychological

The act of smoking is very much steeped in psychology – specifically – behavioral psychology. Without getting too clinical, this means that you have trained your mind to connect certain pleasurable activities with the use of cigarettes.

Examples include:

  • Keeping your hands busy with a cigarette
  • Using your break time to “grab a smoke”
  • Reaching for cigarettes without thinking about it first thing in the morning.
  • Having a cigarette after sex

2. Physical

Nicotine – a chemical released into your body when you inhale from a cigarette – is one of the most addictive substances known to man. While the research varies, many studies suggest that nicotine can be just as addictive is as crack cocaine.

A lot of people do not know this but nicotine is a psychoactive drug, meaning nicotine has a direct connection on your brain’s endorphin manufacturing system. This is why you experience pleasure when you smoke. Read this page on the Why Quit website to learn more about the powerful effects of this drug on your entire system.

If you notice, your body strongly craves a cigarette several times a day. That’s because nicotine levels in your system are in a continual state of adjustment. The more time that goes by without a new infusion of nicotine, the more your body slips into a state of withdraw.

Withdraw symptom include:

  • Anxiety
  • Jitters
  • Nausea
  • Gassiness
  • Edginess
  • Irritability
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain

3. Emotional

Cigarettes, for better or worse, provide many people with an emotional pathway for coping with daily stress and anxiety. If you have ever reached for a smoke when you are feeling overwhelmed, nervous, sad, angry or anxious, you are using cigarettes as an emotional coping mechanism.

When you link the emotional aspects of nicotine dependence to the previously mentioned psychological parts of the addiction, you can see the two feed off one another in an almost frenzied way. In short, you have trained your mind to connect the use of cigarettes with the reward of calmness and relaxation.

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Q: What’s the best way to stop smoking?

The vast majority of research on smoking cessation clearly indicates that when a person decides to stop smoking, their best chance at success is to address the three areas of addiction mentioned above.

This is best achieved through a combination of:

  • Counseling
  • Nicotine Replacement
  • Emotional Support

Q: How does counseling help?

Using counseling as a way of helping you to quit and stay quit from cigarettes allows you the opportunity to identify new and healthy ways of coping with the intense psychological, emotional and physical aspects of nicotine addiction.

When working with a trained addictions specialist, such as a certified drug and alcohol counselor, you help yourself gain the insight and knowledge you need to work through strong cravings and cope with mood swings.

Counseling also help you to prepare and work through lifestyle changes that are a necessary aspect of quitting cigarettes.

Q: Does insurance cover smoking cessation counseling?

Check with your insurance provider directly to inquire. Each plan on is different. if your plan doesn’t offer a benefit, you may be able to use your Health Saving Account (HSA) to pay for counseling. Check with your human resources department.

Q: Does nicotine replacement work?

Nicotine replacement (gum, patches, lozenges) have been found to help many people successfully stop their smoking habit. In order to give yourself the best chance of remaining smoke-free however, it is highly suggested that some form of emotional support be included as part of the dynamic. This could mean counseling, group support, online support or a combo of all three.

Before starting any nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) program, make sure you consult with your physician. Remember, patches, gums and lozenges are nicotine delivery mechanisms. Because nicotine is a drug, it may interact with other medications you are taking or have an impact on other bodily systems. This is why you should talk to your medical doctor first before starting NRT, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Q: Stop smoking with hypnosis?

The idea of seeing someone who can magically help you to wipe away your addiction to nicotine is understandable. Who wouldn’t want to quit smoking without experiencing the withdraw symptoms as previously mentioned. It’s easy to understand the appeal of hypnosis.

Just remember – there is no trance as deep as that of nicotine addiction.

Regardless of what you may read online from a hypnotist’s website, the current body of medical research does not strongly support hypnosis as an effective approach to smoking cessation. With that shared, some people have reported that hypnosis was helpful to them as an approach to quitting.

If you do decide to try hypnosis, follow the advice of the American Cancer Association and make sure the person is state licensed in medicine or mental health and trained in hypnosis. Be careful of anyone promising quick fixes or trying to sell you products. If they don’t have a state license to practice mental health and aren’t trained in addictions, look for someone who is. A great resource to to find a qualified professional is the National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists.

Finally, bear in mind that if the person is unlicensed, any services they offer may not be covered by your insurance program. Going to someone unlicensed also means that if you are using a health savings plan (HSA) through your employer, the services they provide may not be reimbursable.

Always check with your human resources department to find out the requirements for reimbursement.

Q: What about self-hypnosis

Hypnosis is nothing more than a meditative state that allows you to receive a gentle suggestions through focused imagination. This can be achieved on your own through self-hypnosis.

Remember that as a stand-alone approach, hypnosis (even self-hypnosis) isn’t the most effective way to stop smoking. The same holds true for mindfulness based meditation, guided imagery and so forth. Ideally, any form of mental relaxation such as self-hypnosis should be combined with counseling for emotional and psychological support.

Q: What about quitting “cold turkey”

Some people have successfully stopped smoking cold turkey, without any nicotine replacement therapy. The research is mixed on this however.

As such, it is generally agreed upon that emotional support systems should be in place in order to give you the best chance of success. This means something like attending counseling, going to a support group or partaking in online support.

Q: Can online support groups help?

Absolutely. Online support groups help you to connect with others whenever you are going through periods of difficulty or experiencing withdraw. An excellent one to consider is Quitnet –the Internet’s longest running stop smoking site.

There are also aps that you can download to your smart-phone that connect you with others who are quitting. Here is a link to several popular ones that are recommended by users.

Q: What else can help me stop smoking?

One of the best ways to stop smoking is to arm yourself with as much information as possible. This means educating yourself about nicotine dependence and addiction.

An excellent resource to consider is Quit Smoking for Dummies authored by Dr. David Brizer. He is an addictions specialist and psychiatrist at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut. We’ve also included some additional resources at the bottom of this page for you to call upon to learn more about stopping smoking and nicotine dependence.


Stop Smoking Resources:

Illinois Tobacco Quitline

Illinois Department of Public Health

Quit Smoking Guide: American Cancer Association