Cold Turkey or Wean Off Nicotine Pros and Cons

The age old question when contemplating quitting nicotine is whether you should go cold turkey or gradually wean yourself off the nicotine. Some may advocate going cold turkey, bearing the intense symptoms during the withdrawal period thereby getting it over and done with. Others may rather wean themselves off the nicotine so that the symptoms during the withdrawal period is not as intense.

Whichever method you choose, it is important to realize that quitting is about willpower and your desire to quit. If this is lacking then the chances of your successfully quitting are slim.

Cold Turkey

You wake up one morning, decide to quit just throw away those cigarettes and never touch it again. Or you make a resolution to quit in the new year and come the 1st, you just stay away from your cigarettes and never touch it again.

Whether spontaneous or planned, the cold turkey method is probably the most difficult and understandably studies have show that successfully quitting with this method is slim.

In fact only about 4% of cigarette smokers who quit by going cold turkey managed to stay off cigarettes for a period of one year. Most, almost 60%, of those who went cold turkey returned to smoking within a 3 month period.

This is not to say that going cold turkey is a better or worse choice than weaning off nicotine. If you have the will power and desire to quit, you can do it. But prepare yourself for an intense withdrawal period. Many still advocate the cold turkey method saying that its a no-nonsense method for quitting – there is no bargaining and preparing yourself for quitting.

Weaning Off

Gradually reducing your nicotine consumption allows your body to adapt to a lower nicotine levels. This should help you overcome your nicotine addiction and reduce the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms. Or so the theory goes.

While research has shown that those who choose to wean off nicotine are more likely to stay away from it than those who go cold turkey, there is conflicting evidence about the intensity of the withdrawal period. Weaning off does not only mean gradually reducing your cigarette consumption – even switching to a nicotine replacement product (NRT) and reducing the strength or dosage will suffice.

One of the advantages of the weaning off method, especially when using nicotine replacement therapy, is that it allows the user to adapt to the pscyhosocial aspect of cigarette smoking. Fewer smoke breaks or no smoking despite nicotine through NRT allows users to break the the habit of having a cigarette in the hand or chatting to fellow smokers while puffing away.