NICOTINE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (NRT)

Because being addicted to smoking is twofold, the treatment for nicotine addiction is twofold. First, since nicotine is the primary addictive ingredient in tobacco products and other tobacco products, it’s use should be tapered down and eventually stopped. But, because it is easy to relapse when one simply tries to cut down the use of tobacco products, there are medications that have been developed to aid in a comprehensive smoking cessation program. Secondly, since there is a psychosocial component to smoking or using tobacco products, these are dealt with as the nicotine is slowly tapered down over a long period of time.

Types of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Nicotine Patch

Available over-the-counter and is applied to the skin, where it is left to slowly administer low, consistent doses to the smoker over a day or so. The patch is changed daily. The nicotine patch can be effective because the user doesn’t need to control the administration of the patch. This works to consistently decrease nicotine cravings and potential relapses. One may need to apply more than a single patch to get maximum benefit, but this should be discussed with the smoker’s healthcare provider before initiating this technique.

Nicotine Chewing Gum

This gum is chewed and then stored in the mouth and nicotine is slowly released from the gum into the mucous, whereby it enters the smoker’s bloodstream. The gum is chewed over a period of an hour or so. Several pieces are required to be chewed per day. One advantage of this form of NRT is that the smoker is in control of when they are feeling cravings and can chew a piece of gum, rather than having a cigarette. In the initial stages, it is best to follow the manufacturers recommendations and attempt to stay on a schedule, whether the smoker feels like they are wanting a cigarette or not. The former smoker will then ultimately be tapered off the gum, by chewing it less frequently and using lower dose versions of the gum.

Nicotine Lozenge

This NRT is available over-the counter and works much like the gum listed in #2 above. But, instead of chewing the lozenge, the user sucks on the lozenge for brief periods and then again stores it in the mucosa of the mouth to allow the nicotine to slowly be absorbed into the bloodstream. Again, the lozenge is available in different dosages, and the goal is to slowly decrease the number used per day, and ultimately decrease the dose, along with the frequently. During this time, the smoker will be using the lozenge to stop smoking and working on any psychosocial issues related to smoking. Again, this form of NRT gives the smoker the advantage of using the lozenge when they are experiencing cravings or in fear of smoking. But still, it’s best to follow the routine schedule developed by the manufacturer, or a physician.

Nicotine Inhaler

This oral inhaler is available by prescription and delivers a very specific amount of nicotine into the lungs. There will be a manufacturer schedule available, or your doctor may recommend a different schedule. Ultimately, over an extended time, the dose and frequency of use will be tapered. An advantage of the inhaler is that the dose of nicotine more rapidly reaches the brain, and so the effects are more rapid.

Nicotine Nasal Spray

The nasal spray used in NRT is available by prescription. Like the nicotine inhaler, the nicotine is more readily delivered to the brain, so the effects are more immediate than those of the patch, gum, or lozenge. This form of use also gives the smoker more control over preventing smoking by immediately treating cravings and urges to smoke. But, it’s best to follow the manufacturers recommended dosing schedule or a schedule developed by your doctor. The ultimate goal is to stop smoking, which using the spray, all the while tapering down the amount of nicotine used and the frequency.

6 Steps to Successfully Stop Smoking

  1. The tobacco user should choose a time that will increase his/her odds of success. Lower stress times when minimal life changes are occurring is best
  2. Getting support from family and friends and committing to them about the attempt to stop using nicotine products
  3. Attending a self-help program, or other smoking cessation group can be highly beneficial
  4. Notifying your healthcare providers of your intention to quit and possibly meeting with them prior to attempting to stop
  5. Removing all smoking products and paraphernalia from the home, car, office and any other place that you smoke or use tobacco
  6. Temporarily, or permanently, removing yourself from situations that you are highly inclined to smoke, like bars and other events. Even changing the route taken to various places or when you drink coffee can also help

Because it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, and the advice of all healthcare providers, a plan should be developed on how the nicotine will be used and which products will be recommended. But, it’s also important that you are getting enough nicotine, to increase your chances of a successful attempt at smoking cessation.

Unique plans can be arranged by your healthcare provider, but using more than one NRT at a time.  Again, this should be done under the care of a healthcare provider.  An example would be, to use the nicotine patch, but also have mints available for times when cravings are high, or the smoker is at a high risk of relapse.  The various NRT products can be used at the same time, but again, should be based on the approval of a healthcare provider.

The National Addiction Institute’s Addiction Specialists can assist you in locating the resources that may help you end your nicotine addiction. Also, if you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, the staff at NAI can assist you in locating a program that will not only help you recovery from alcoholism and addiction, but also from nicotine addiction, if choose to take that opportunity.  We can be reached 24/7 online or by calling844-889-8140 All information will be handled confidentially.

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