Nicotine replacement products are used to help relieve some of the withdrawal symptoms people experience when they quit smoking. Three nicotine replacement products are currently available over-the-counter in the United States. These products include nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges. Other nicotine replacements are available through prescription. These products include a nicotine nasal spray and a nicotine inhaler. A new non-nicotine pill is available as a smoking cessation treatment option as well.
Nicotine replacement therapy allows an individual to wean themself from the nicotine addiction that has been created from using tobacco products. The goal in using nicotine medications is to stop using tobacco products completely. If you plan to take nicotine medications, begin using them on the day you quit or as directed by your healthcare provider. If you continue to have strong urges to smoke or are struggling to stop smoking completely, ask your healthcare provider about additional help.
Nicotine Patch: The nicotine patch releases a constant amount of nicotine in the body; the nicotine dissolves right through the skin and enters the body. The patches are similar to adhesive bandages and are available in different shapes and sizes. Less nicotine is obtained through the patch than in cigarettes. Most patches are changed once every 24 hours.
Some people are concerned about the use of patches over a period. Studies have shown that it is much easier to give up the patch than it would be to give up cigarettes. First, the patch delivers a constant nicotine level with no moments of instant gratification. Because of this, few cravings are experienced. Secondly, the process of smoking cigarettes during the day becomes a habit. Since patches are applied only once a day, there is no strong habit to break.
Possible side effects:
- Upset stomach
Wearing the nicotine patch lessens chances of suffering from several of the major smoking withdrawal symptoms such tenseness, irritability, drowsiness, and lack of concentration.
Nicotine gum contains enough nicotine to reduce the urge to smoke. The over-the-counter gum is available in the same strength as the original prescription product, 2 mg (for smokers of 24 or fewer cigarettes each day) and 4 mg (for smokers of 25 or more cigarettes each day). Nicotine gum helps take the edge off cigarette cravings without providing the tars and poisonous gases found in cigarettes. Nicotine gum is a temporary aid that reduces symptoms of nicotine withdrawal after quitting smoking.
Steps to consider when using nicotine gum:
- Stop all smoking when beginning nicotine gum therapy.
- Do not eat or drink for 15 minutes before using or while chewing gum.
- Chew the gum slowly on and off for 30 minutes to release most of the nicotine. Rest the gum between the cheek and gum to allow the absorption of nicotine.
- Chew enough gum to reduce withdrawal symptoms. (No more than 30 pieces/ day).
Nicotine lozenges may join the ranks of patches and gum in helping smokers to kick their habit. Despite the newness of this product, lozenges have proven to provide cigarette smokers with another option for reducing their dependence on nicotine. Smokers who usually have their first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking will use lozenges containing 4 mg of nicotine and all other smokers may use lozenges containing 2 mg of nicotine. Lozenges may be used with the intent to quit smoking. After approximately six weeks, the weaning process from the lozenges should be considered.
Nicotine nasal spray, dispensed from a pump bottle, relieves cravings for a cigarette. It delivers nicotine to the nasal membranes and reaches the bloodstream faster than any other nicotine replacement therapy product. It is available by prescription.
The nicotine inhaler consists of a plastic cylinder containing a cartridge that delivers nicotine when you puff on it. Although similar in appearance to a cigarette, the inhaler delivers nicotine into the mouth not the lung. It enters the body much more slowly than nicotine in cigarettes. The nicotine inhaler is available by prescription.
Bupropion Hydrochloride (Zyban) was approved to help smokers quit. The drug, available by prescription is also sold as an antidepressant under the name Wellbutrin. Consult your physician for dosages, side effects, and concerns.
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