Nicotine Replacement Therapy: Patches, Gums, and Lozenges

Nicotine replacement therapies offer the user an edge toward quitting for good. There are numerous products available, and each carries their own pros and cons.

woman holding pack of nicotine gum

Nicotine replacement therapies are designed to provide individuals suffering from nicotine addiction a safer alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes. Nicotine replacement therapy is comprised of products which administer to the user small, metered doses of nicotine. These products further omit the approximate 7,000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke. The objective of using nicotine replacement products is to reduce the cravings for nicotine, and ultimately decrease or remove altogether, the symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal.

Increase Your Chances for Success

According to MedlinePlus, individuals who choose to use one of the many forms of nicotine replacement have an increased chance of success, in fact, ten times higher if relapse does not occur within the first 24 hours of use. However, a higher starting dose may be required depending on how many cigarettes one normally smokes in a day. Participating in some form of counseling program further increases an individual’s chances of long-term success and healthier living as a result.

Not smoking while using a nicotine replacement method is strongly recommended. Smoking while actively using a nicotine replacement product could lead to an extremely dangerous accumulation of nicotine in one’s system, bringing it to harmful, and possibly deadly levels. It is reported that the use of nicotine replacement therapies assists in the prevention of weight gain associated with quitting smoking. It is suggested that nicotine doses be slowly tapered off through time, allowing for a seamless transition to zero nicotine intake.

According to, there are several forms of nicotine replacement products, including nicotine patches, nicotine gum, nicotine inhalers or nasal sprays, nicotine lozenges.

Over the Counter NRTs

Nicotine Skin Patches

Nicotine patches are placed on the skin, usually the upper arm. They administer a small, regular nicotine application onto the skin, allowing for direct absorption. However, they may also produce strange dreams, minor skin irritation, redness and burning.

Nicotine Gum

Nicotine gum is a form of medicinal chewing gum. The nicotine content is released by chewing the gum until the user senses a slight tingling sensation, at which point the user places the gum between their gums and cheek. Doing this will allow a steady stream of nicotine which is then ingested orally. The downside is most often the taste. They may also be difficult to use in certain formal situations.

Nicotine Lozenges

Much like nicotine gum, lozenges are ingested orally. However, instead of chewing them, they are more akin to hard candy. The user simply allows the lozenge to slowly dissolve, thus, receiving a steady stream of nicotine. However, they may be difficult to use in certain situations where it is inappropriate to partake in the consumption of a food item.

Nicotine Nasal Sprays and Inhalers

Nasal sprays are basic nasal pump-style bottles containing nicotine. They are used in the same manner as cold or allergy relief medicines. They are placed in the nasal cavity, pumped, and nicotine is then inhaled. Nicotine inhalers work like asthma relief inhalers. The mouthpiece is placed in the mouth, pumped, and nicotine is inhaled in metered doses. Although, these forms of prescription NRTs may become habit forming, and further allow for easy misuse, or overuse.

NRT: Taking the First Step

Taking the first step toward quitting smoking is often the most difficult. However, unlike quitting cold turkey, using nicotine replacement therapy provides an edge. They assist by curbing nicotine withdrawal symptoms, decreasing the likelihood of weight gain, and increase the overall chances for long-term success. A doctor may also be consulted when choosing an NRT. They may suggest using other forms of medication, such as Bupropion (Zyban), or Varenicline (Chantix). These medications have also proven to be successful among some users, however, they also carry an increased likelihood of side effects.

Talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing, or plan on becoming pregnant soon; if you currently have any serious medical conditions; if you are currently under the age of 18; or if you are currently using any prescribed medications in order to prevent any possible dangerous drug interactions.

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