How To Quit Smoking — With Science

Every smoker wishes they knew how to quit smoking, but not everyone manages to do it. In response to this large demand, two studies published recently give us new helpful information on how to quit smoking. As it turns out, research suggests you’re born with the ability, but if you’re not, there are strategies you can take to do something about it. One study, which was featured in the New England Journal of Medicine, said that a very obvious motivator was money. Another recently published research study on how to quit smoking was done by the academic journal, Neuropsychopharmacology, which revealed that there is a lot to be learned from the part of our brain called the insular cortex, and its relationship to smoking addiction.

What Is The Insular Cortex?

The insular cortex, which is also called “the insula”, is a part of the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for the travel of chemicals relating to: awareness, perception, memory, ideas, and language. The insula, specifically, is the part of the brain that controls your emotions, consciousness, cognition, self-awareness, and interpersonal relationships. It’s the part of your brain that gets excited for adventure and travel.

Does The Insular Cortex Show Us How To Quit Smoking?

Through analyzing the MRIs of eighty-five smokers, Duke University researchers discovered that the insula is crucial in smoking addiction and in triggering smokers to relapse. In the study they had the smokers use cigarettes for thirty days, then had them stop and use nicotine replacement for seventy days. Among the people that went back to smoking during that time period, there was a consistently low rate of action in the insula. On the other hand, among those who abstained, there was a consistent high rate of activity in the insula.

How To Quit Smoking If You Don’t Have a Strong Insula Cortex?

Let’s say you are one of the unlucky people who do not have a hyperactive insula. That’s where the money comes in. If you weren’t born with a naturally strong insula cortex, but you want to see how to quit smoking, you can use money as a motivating factor. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania studied over 2,000 people and their smoking habits. Every participant was given the same help: anti-smoking aids and therapeutic help. But, some people had to pay $100 deposit for the anti-smoking program, while others were promised an $800 reward if they were successful in the program. While more people enrolled for the reward program rather than the deposit program, it was shown that the people who gave a deposit—the ones who were willing to pay, and lose money—had double the chance to quit smoking. This proves that if you want to know how to quit smoking, tell yourself that if you don’t, you are going to have to pay someone a fine, rather than giving yourself a reward.