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 Smokefree.gov, 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.

Other Methods

Working Out

That’s right – exercise can be a great way to work out the jitters and anxiety experienced by many quitters. And there’s no need to rush out to the gym; even going for a brisk walk or a jog can help. Love swimming? Consider grabbing a local pool membership for a month to give you something to focus on when you quit. Enjoy biking? Grab that bike and go for a long ride when cravings become overwhelming.

Relaxing

Are you stressing out excessively because of the quitting process? Maybe it’s time to pare back. When you are quitting smoking, you must schedule in time to relax and enjoy yourself. Take up a hobby or pursue learning more about something you love.

Drinking Plenty of Liquids

Don’t just drink coffee or alcohol – both of these are poor at rehydration and can actually dehydrate you further. Drinking plenty of water, low-sugar juice, or herbal tea can help to flush toxic chemicals out of your system more quickly. That includes the toxins from cigarettes!

Vitamin C

Make sure you’re ingesting enough Vitamin C. There are many ways to ensure this; drink plenty of orange juice, take vitamin C supplements, or be sure to eat foods that contain plenty of Vitamin C. When adults quit smoking, they require upwards of 500 mg of vitamin C per day.

Meditation

Meditation is incredibly simple, and you can practice simple meditation just about anywhere. While the most traditional form of meditation is sitting meditation, other forms can be helpful. Even guided visualizations aimed at smoking cessation can be helpful.

To start a very simple meditation exercise, begin taking deep breaths. As you breath in and out, visualize the air you are taking in as clean and healing. Visualize the air you breath out as carrying out stress and toxins. A count of four is usually recommended for breathing in, and breathing out;. Start by breathing in and thinking “1…2…3…4,” and continue this when you breath out, for another “1…2…3…4.” After breathing out, pause for four seconds before taking another breath. If this makes you dizzy or you don’t feel right, try cutting the count to 3. This slows your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure, and has the ability to relax you.

Physical Relaxation Exercises

Try this simple exercise to relax your physical body. Working from your toes and rising up to your head, clench and relax each part of your body. Clench your toes first, hold for a few seconds, and then release. Move up to your shins, and then your knees, and so on.

Don’t rush this exercise; work slowly, clenching muscle groups multiple times if necessary. Pair this with the previous visualization and breathing exercise for best results. Remember that your goal is to achieve relaxation and “stillness.” Allow your mind to wander, but don’t cling to the thoughts that pass through your mind. Acknowledge each thought, and then move on from it.

Refocusing Your Energy

Focusing your energy on anything other than cigarettes and smoking can help to distract you from cravings and stress. Direct your mental energy to work, the world around you, or other things can help to ensure your success.

Begin to open up to the world around you – what have you missed while smoking? Look at the people you pass by, and notice small details. Consider smiling and saying hello to each person you pass. Notice details like a pretty scarf or nice hat. Then, consider the lives of the people you pass by – what are their lives like? What do they love or struggle with on a daily basis? This can help to get away from ego issues that can be triggered when quitting. It can also help to remind you that every person on Earth has their own struggles; while yours may currently be quitting smoking, you are not alone in your struggle for a better life.

Nicotine Replacements

Nicotine replacement therapy can actually be very effective at reducing cravings. Consider various substitutes like nicotine patchesnicotine gum (though read our article about its dangers before buying), or Nicotine inhalers. Some medications, like Chantix, can help to reduce cravings; however, you should speak with your doctor before beginning any nicotine replacement program. Another option that we are beginning to really believe in is the electronic cigarette. It’s a great tool to help people quit smoking, and even if they don’t quit using nicotine, they’ll still be much better off. Check out our Electronic Cigarette Reviews Page to learn more.

Eating Enough Fruits and Vegetables

Most people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, but these two important foods are of the utmost importance to smokers and recent quitters. Begin exploring salads, fruits, and different tastes and sensations. Celery, for example, gives a delicious crunch and can even rehydrate you. Cucumber is cool and moist, and tastes great with just a bit of pepper. Spinach can be prepared in many different ways – consider trying them all to see which you like best. Exploring healthy tastes and oral sensations is a great way to take the focus off of missing cigarettes, and to replace the oral fixation of smoking cigarettes. Taste is often limited when you smoke, too; by exploring new foods, you may find new favorites as your taste buds expand again.

Changing Priorities

Up until you quit smoking, your priorities were likely centered on smoking. You probably thought that having your next cigarette was the most important action in your day. Refresh your priorities by choosing new ones. Consider redesigning your interior design, changing the color of your walls with paint, or even the theme or style of your home. This can have a direct impact on how you feel when spending time within it. Making new changes can also help you to realize that you have control and power over your life; you can change or leave behind almost anything you aren’t happy with. For that which you can’t change, you can change your attitude toward it.

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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