Kicking the Habit Takes Time

Long-term medication and counseling help people quit smoking

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TUESDAY, Nov. 2, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Long-term counseling and medication can help improve the odds that smokers will be able to quit smoking.

That news comes from a University of California, San Francisco study in the November issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

In this study, 40 smokers received the antidepressant nortriptyline and counseling for a year. Thirty-nine smokers were given the drug and counseling for only a short period. Another 41 smokers received long-term counseling and a placebo. And another group of 40 received short-term counseling and placebo.

Those who received the long-term medication and counseling had much better smoking-cessation results (50 percent) than those who received short-term medication and counseling. Those who received long-term counseling and placebo had a smoking cessation rate of 42 percent.

The group that received short-term placebo and counseling had the lowest success rates for quitting smoking.

The study authors said they hope their findings will help convince smokers to commit themselves to long-term treatment to quit smoking.

Smokers who can't or don't want to take nortripltyline should still consider long-term counseling.

"Although the results were not quite as good for the group not taking the medication, the results were still good enough that I believe long-term counseling could benefit many people who wish to stop smoking," study author Sharon Hall, a professor in the department of psychiatry, said in a prepared statement.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about quitting smoking.

SOURCE: University of California, San Francisco, news release, Nov. 1, 2004

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