While drug treatments (e.g., nicotine patch, bupropion) can double a person's chances for success when attempting to quit smoking, a combination of drug and psychotherapy (also called talk therapy) can further increase the chance for success.

Cognitive and behavioral therapies are often practiced together for maximum effect in helping the smoker alter thinking and behavior. In both approaches, the smoker is encouraged to take an active role in analyzing and changing his/her thinking and behavior.

Cognitive Therapy to Quit Smoking

In cognitive therapy, thinking patterns that lead to smoking are identified and then altered for more healthy outcomes. For instance, someone who thinks, "Smoking relieves my stress," will learn to think, "I can relieve my stress another way." The therapist also gives practical instruction in biofeedback and other stress-reduction techniques.

Behavioral Therapy to Quit Smoking

Behavioral therapy helps people weaken the link between the stimuli that trigger habitual responses by prescribing specific acts or behaviors to replace smoking. For instance, a smoker may replace smoking with manual activities such as cooking or gardening.

Quit Smoking Support Groups

Support groups often incorporate elements of cognitive and behavior therapy, and have the additional advantage of providing a social network that encourages the smoker to quit. Women appear to benefit from participating in a support group and are more likely than men to join a group.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Jul 2006

Last Modified: 01 Dec 2015