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Group Therapy and Willpower can Help Smokers to Quit

herapy sessions with such promising titles as "How to finally quit smoking" are seen to be the most effective method of cessation. The group of smokers meets with a counsellor who guides the session. Initially, the aim is to analyse the smoking habits of those taking part.

"The idea is to make it clear to people that they are actually addicted," said Karin Joder. In many cases this means destroying the illusions associated with the smoking habit.

The counsellor has little time for nicotine substitutes such as patches, sprays and other medicines.

These substances can reduce the craving and headaches, which usually occur as part of the nerve- wracking withdrawal symptoms although the smoker does realize that he no longer needs cigarettes and becomes more amenable to therapy.

Such substitute products are however ineffective in the long-term since they cannot diminish physical dependence and continue to provide the body with the nicotine it so craves.

The same applies to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) medicines that are usually only available on prescription. Zyban (buspronion and Champix (varenicline) reduce the burning desire for nicotine but their side effects are undesirable.

Those observed in clinical trials include insomnia, panic attacks and dizziness. Vareniclin reduces the withdrawal symptoms and makes people taking it feel sick, if they do smoke a cigarette. The side effects include difficulty sleeping, flatulence, headaches and nausea.

According to expert Christian Kroeger at the Therapy Research Institute in Munich, such medicines are only really suitable for heavy smokers who are likely to experience severe physical and mental repercussions, if they simply give up smoking from one day to the other.


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