A good quit smoking program will combine a strategy for eliminating nicotine with techniques for getting rid of your psychological dependence.
Regardless of whether you choose a residential, class-room, or home-study program, the psychological factors around quitting are the same, so whatever kind of program you choose, make sure it has a strong psychological component.
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Home study courses are stop smoking programs that provide you with materials that you use either on your own, or in conjunction with telephone, e-mail, or other forms of support. (If you're looking for info about other types of programs, you can also read about quit smoking classes, where you attend sessions outside your home, or residential programs, where you live at the program site for the duration of the program.)
Three home study programs I discuss here are:
Quit Smoking the Bright Way
Easy Way to Stop Smoking
SmokEnders "Quit Kit"
Home study stop smoking programs tend to be both the most convenient and the least expensive type of stop smoking program. You don't have to rearrange your schedule to attend classes, and you certainly don't have to 'check in' somewhere as you do for a residential program. Home study programs have the added advantage of being more widely available, since it generally doesn't matter what part of the country you live in.
However, home study programs vary widely in terms of how much guidance they provide to help you quit smoking successfully. They can range from a short information pamphlet with a few quit smoking 'tips' that you can get for free on the internet, to a well-designed comprehensive step-by-step program for quitting. Additionally, some include additional help and support ― you can call and talk to someone, or get questions answered via e-mail ― but with others, you're strictly on your own.
Costs for home study programs vary. You can find quit smoking 'tips' or short brochures available on the internet or by mail for free, whereas a full, step-by-step program with professional support may cost a few hundred dollars.
Effectiveness of Home Study Stop Smoking Programs
Home study programs have probably the broadest range of effectiveness, both because their materials and approaches vary widely, and because people using these materials have wide latitude to follow or not follow the program instructions, and so may get varying results. Not surprisingly, research shows that more comprehensive programs are more effective, and follow-up or support components can also improve success rates.
Effectiveness for home study stop smoking programs is commonly estimated by looking at how many folks get their money back. This is not a bad way to estimate how many people felt 'satisfied' with the program, but probably doesn't reflect a true success rate comparable to the more formal assessments done for residential quit smoking programs. For instance, using this method, some home study programs claim a 'success rate' of 75% or more (compared to 45-65% for residential programs). However, head-to-head studies typically show that residential programs are more intensive and more effective that their out-patient counterparts.
In other words, this method of estimating the quality of a program may be useful when comparing home study programs to one another (assuming the guarantee period and conditions are identical), but don't compare this number to success estimates obtained in other ways for other types of programs or products.
One more point about home study stop smoking programs: Unlike residential programs, a good home study program generally comes with a guarantee of some sort. Read the terms and conditions carefully to make sure you understand what you need to do to get your money back if you are not satisfied. Besides providing peace of mind, understanding the terms of the guarantee will also provide some context for understanding the success rate quoted. If the guarantee is for a short period of time and has conditions you must meet, you are less likely to be able to get your money back. That means that you would be counted as a 'success' according to that company's calculation, even if you weren't happy with the program.
In other words, the more difficult it is to meet the terms of the guarantee, the more inflated the 'success rate' estimate is.
I found three home study stop smoking programs, although there are probably more. (If you have experience with a home study stop smoking program and would like to provide information about it so I can describe it here, let me know.)
The three home study stop smoking programs I have looked at so far include Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking method, SmokEnders "Quit Kit," and my own program, Quit Smoking the Bright Way. (Since I'm comparing my own proprietary program in this mix, it's not really fair for me to make actual recommendations, so I'll try to stick to descriptive information, so you can decide for yourself.)
Pros and Cons
What are the pros and cons to home study stop smoking programs?
Convenience - no classes to attend or facility to check in to. Home study programs are generally done according to your own schedule.
Generally less expensive than some other program types, although this can depend on levels of support and the overall quality of the program design.
Widely available since program can be done virtually anywhere, unlike classes or residential programs.
Tools and techniques applied immediately to regular life circumstances, since you are not 'removed' from your everyday setting.
May be less 'intensive' than residential programs, since you don't take time out of your life to do it.
Unless it comes with support, no place to get questions answered or techniques clarified.
Do some research: If you choose to do a home study program, I recommend spending some time to find one that feels right for you. Be sure the instructions are clear, and that it provides enough guidance that you understand exactly what to do. Broad instructions such as 'make sure you have social support' are not as useful as a step-by-step process that helps you understand exactly what you need to do to be successful.
Don't be lulled into inactivity just because you're not on someone else's timetable. Make sure you set a time to begin, and then devote yourself to it.
Create your own intensity: The 'intensity' of treatment in a residential program gets a lot of credit for the success rates they enjoy, but you pay a lot for that intensity. Keep in mind that you can create your own intensity with a home study program by making it a priority while you're doing it. Really focus on getting the most out of the program you choose.
Use all of the resources offered: If you choose a program that has external support or consultations included, don't be shy - take advantage of all of the resources it offers. It could make the difference between success and failure.