Quit Smoking Tips – Does Nicotine Replacement Therapy Work? – Nurse’s Guide

If you plan to quit smoking you may have heard that the nicotine patch, nicotine gum or other nicotine replacement therapy products don’t work. I’ll try to dispel this and other myths in this article. You can stop smoking with or without it. But knowing the facts will help you decide which way to go.

First of all, nicotine replacement therapy can work. For a smoker who wants to quit smoking it can almost double the chances that you will be able to stop smoking, without the help of “quit smoking pills”, drugs or other aids. If you are a smoker and have a nicotine addiction and use nicotine replacement therapy you will more than likely stay smoking-free for more than six months. Now, that is IF you follow instructions, which some people do not do and expect it to work. The directions must be closely followed.

The nicotine in NRT products is not the same as the nicotine in cigarettes. Because of this becoming addicted to nicotine nasal spray, nicotine patches, nicotine lozenges, nicotine gum or a nicotine inhaler is unlikely. The nicotine replacement therapy products follow the guidelines of the FDA and are strictly adhered to. These products contain a lot less nicotine and it is delivered slowly. So there is less of a chance that you would become addicted to these products then cigarettes.

As for nicotine withdrawal symptoms, the products will lessen your withdrawal symptoms, but you may still have them. Some of the symptoms you should have less of however are hunger, cravings, anxiety, insomnia, irritability and anger.

The risks or long term effects of the nicotine replacement products, whether it is the nasal sprays, patches, lozenges, gum or inhaler are not known. There can be effects that will happen down the line but they are not known right now. These products are probably a lot safer than cigarettes. Tobacco smoke has more than 3900 chemicals and many are known to cause cancer. By using NRT products you are at least reducing the exposure to the hundreds of other chemicals you would be exposed to.

You can use these products by themselves or in combination but you would need to check with your doctor before you do any combining.

Also before you start on nicotine replacement, make sure to check with your doctor and see if there are any reasons why you should not use them based on your state of health and medical history.

The cost of these products varies, but the nasal spray is the least expensive, followed by nicotine patches, then nicotine lozenges, nicotine gum and then the more expensive nicotine inhaler.

If you can find a way to quit free or without using these products that would be the best approach so you don’t expose yourself to more chemicals and drugs, But if you continue smoking and exposing yourself to the health risks and don’t find it easy to quit without these products then that may be the best choice for you.

The best way to quit smoking is naturally. Using these nicotine replacement products is just one way to stop smoking. But they should be used with a comprehensive quit smoking plan, not just by themselves. There are a lot of other ways you can stop smoking and these should be explored first. There is a lot of free help available for smoking cessation. There are many natural ways to stop smoking. Many have done it with NRT or naturally. You can do it too!

Alternative Nicotine Reduction Therapy

Nicotine Nasal Spray: Nicotine is absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream through a prescription nasal spray. The spray eliminates cravings and withdrawal symptoms when used. The FDA alerts the user to addictive properties inherent in the nasal spray and does not allow it to be prescribed for longer than 6 months. Side effects include: runny nose, sneezing, throat irritation, coughing, watery eyes and nasal irritation. Nasal spray is not recommended for those with allergies, asthma, nasal polyps or sinus problems. See your doctor for alternatives.

Nicotine inhaler- A prescription method developed in 1998. The inhaler is similar to smoking a cigarette, using a plastic tube that contains a nicotine cartridge. The quitter puffs on the inhaler to administer a nicotine vapor. Recommended dosage: 6-16 cartridges per day for up to 6 months.

Side effects: coughing, throat irritation, upset stomach.

These are the most expensive form of NRT.

The Lozenge- Nicotine lozenges are the newest NRT on the market. The FDA approved an over-the-counter smoking cessation aid in a lozenge called the Commit. The lozenge is available in 2mg and 4mg. As with the gum, the quitter administers as need and cravings surface. The manufacturer recommends a 12 week program, 1 lozenge every 1-2 hours for 6 weeks. Tapering off gradually by using one lozenge every 2-4 hours for week 7 through week 9 and one lozenge every 4-8 hours for the final two weeks.

The Commit manufacturer recommends:

“Stop all tobacco use when beginning therapy with the lozenge.

Do not eat or drink for 15 minutes before using the lozenge. (Some beverages can reduce the effectiveness of the lozenge).

Suck on the lozenge until it dissolves. Do not bite or chew it like a hard candy, and do not swallow it.

Do not use more than 5 lozenges in 6 hours, or more than 20 lozenges total per day.

Stop using the lozenge after 12 weeks. If you still feel you need to use the lozenge, talk to your doctor.

Do not use the lozenge if you continue to smoke, chew tobacco, use snuff or any other product containing nicotine (e.g., nicotine patch or gum).”

Side effects: sleeping problems, nausea, coughing, headache, heartburn, hiccups and flatulence (gas).

Despite the side effects, NRT has been proven to be an effective tool for smokers who decide it is time to quit. No one method is better than any other and the smoker/quitter can decide for themselves which method might help them the most. Is it that you need to replace the oral fixation that smoking provides and will be missed with the cessation of smoking? Is it important not to be reminded of smoking, using a once a day convenience??

Aside from NRT, there are also prescription medications you can ask your doctor about to assist you with quitting smoking. Some are used in conjunction with NRT. Bupropion (Zyban) and Varenicline (Chantix) are the two new prescription medications available. Zyban is an antidepressant and Chantix is specific designed to help you quit smoking. Ask your doctor what is right for you.

Can’t Get That Nicotine Monkey Off Your Back?

STILL can’t get that nicotine monkey off your back? I bet it’s getting heavier and heavier. The main reason why smoking is such a difficult habit to kick off is that nicotine is addictive – crave and crave for more.

The human body has natural nicotine transmitters and nicotinic receptors. Nicotine is a stimulant which makes you feel good, keeps you alert, and makes you perform better. Research has proved that the more nicotine you take in, the number of nicotinic receptors also increases. These nicotinic receptors need to be fed or filled up every couple of hours or so. Hungry nicotine receptors tell your body that you need to take in more nicotine thus, in effect, unconsciously reminding you to light another cigarette. This cycle will go on forever, unless you starve those nicotine receptors making them non-functional. Now that’s the difficult part.

Starving those nicotinic receptors have driven people off the cliff! Well, at least for the most part, not literally. The only way to prevent that undesirable effect is to, yes you guessed it, light another cigarette. Believe me, these nicotinic receptors breed like rabbits, and yes, the effect on your smoking habit is proportional to the number of nicotinic receptors present.

Several products are available in the market to help you kick off that nasty habit of smoking, primarily to protect you from the harmful effects, primarily lung cancer, of the contents in cigarette smoke. These products contain nicotine as well, to feed those hungry receptors, and satisfy your craving for cigarettes but not for nicotine.

So, how do you quit? Medical experts would agree that the best cure is prevention. Don’t start, or at least influence people around you, especially your kids, not to start. This takes more effort than losing those excess weight around your belly. Quitting the habit of smoking is not impossible. Taking drugs to help you quit is one option but make sure that you read through the effects and side-effects first before taking it. More importantly, visit your doctor first to see if you are okay to take these medications. You can browse the internet and look for inspirational stories on how millions of people quit and remained sober. Ask family members or friends to help you with your journey towards a healthier life. It is the people around you that matter during the times that you will be thinking of jumping off a cliff, I hope not literally.