Benefits of counselling and antidepressants in smoking cessation are limited
Counselling does not increase the efficacy of antidepressants in smoking cessation, leading to only short-term abstinence.
Giving up smoking is tough, which is why doctors and smokers are now trying so many different approaches to the problem. In a new study, researchers for the National Institute on Drug Abuse looked at whether counselling and a traditional antidepressant were any more effective than an approved drug treatment for smoking cessation.
In a study of 220 cigarette smokers, they compared the effectiveness of the antidepressant nortriptyline and bupropion, a drug approved for smoking cessation. They looked at the effectiveness of both drugs with either counselling or medical management, the latter consisting of advice, medication, and educational material. The counselling consisted of five group sessions, focussing upon discussion of cessation and mood management.
Neither nortriptyline nor counselling produced any long-term benefit. Counselling appeared to be superior to medical management, but the effects lasted for only seven days. In all, less than a third of the participants remained cigarette-free for a year. But counselling and drugs may help smokers achieve a short period of abstinence that they can, perhaps, build on. For most smokers will need more than one attempt to quit smoking for good.