Stop Smoking Aids to Increase Your Chances of Quitting Smoking
Ready to kick cigarettes to the curb? You might be tempted to give quitting cold turkey, a shot, but that isn’t the best way to quit smoking for everyone. Successfully quitting takes determination and willpower to resist cravings, but those two things alone are rarely enough. Fortunately, you don’t have to quit cold turkey.
Over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is proven to increase your chances of quitting and can help decrease symptoms of withdrawal and cravings.1 As you build out your quit-smoking plan and prepare for your quit date, consider including products designed to give you the best shot at quitting. Read on to learn about two types of stop smoking aids: NRT and prescription medication.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Nicotine replacement therapy is a stop smoking aid that works by providing therapeutic, controlled doses of nicotine. Nicotine patches, gum or lozenges are other smoking cessation aids that allow you to gradually wean your body off nicotine without ingesting the thousands of other chemicals—many of which can be highly detrimental to your health—found in cigarettes.2
Unlike e-cigarettes (which have not been approved as a method for quitting smoking), stop smoking products like NRT can help reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms.3 NRT is proven to help raise the probability that you’ll quit for good by helping to reduce your nicotine cravings.
A nicotine patch is a kind of NRT that provides nicotine that’s absorbed through your skin. Typically you apply the patch daily and wear it for 16 or 24 hours, throughout which it delivers a steady flow of nicotine. Nicotine transdermal patches come in 21mg, 14 mg, and 7mg doses and are designed to provide all day craving protection.4 If you crave cigarettes when you wake up, you can wear the patches for a full 24 hours. To get the best results from a nicotine patch, it’s important to use it properly. For most, the patch should be used on an 8 to 10-week schedule, depending on how much you smoke. During the patch treatment, you gradually reduce the dosage of nicotine as your body gets used to lower levels of nicotine. At the end of moving through your quit with transdermal patches, ideally you will no longer feel intense cigarette cravings.5
Nicotine gum, such as Nicorette Gum, is another form of NRT that can be used on its own. It provides nicotine (which is absorbed through the tissue in your mouth) to reduce withdrawal symptoms and manage intense cravings. As a chewing gum, this product acts as a substitute oral activity to help lower the urge to smoke a cigarette.6
It’s important to know how to properly use nicotine gum to receive the optimal effect. Nicorette recommends chewing one piece of gum every one to two hours for the first six weeks of your quit, using at least nine pieces a day and no more than 24 pieces a day. And to increase your chances of success, follow the full 12-week quit program.7
Chewing nicotine gum isn’t the same as enjoying your typical bubble gum, and you should avoid swallowing the nicotine. The correct way to use it is the “chew and park” method. This means you should begin chewing the gum slowly, just enough to taste the release of nicotine or feel a slight tingling in your mouth. At this point, you want to “park” the gum between your cheek and your gum for about a minute or until the tingling subsides. Then you can start chewing again, repeating the process for about 30 minutes or until all the nicotine has been released.7
Like nicotine gum, lozenges deliver nicotine through the tissue in your mouth. Nicorette Lozenges are an over-the-counter quit smoking aid that is discreet and can help you manage intense cravings. To use Nicorette Lozenges, place the lozenge in your mouth and occasionally move it side to side for about 20 to 30 minutes. Let it slowly dissolve (don’t chew or swallow it) and aim to minimize swallowing.8
To get the most out of your lozenges, don’t use more than one at a time or continuously one after another. Don’t use more than five lozenges in six hours or more than 20 in a day. Use at least nine per day for the first six weeks and stop using after 10 weeks.8
Stop-Smoking Prescription Medications
NRT is an effective over-the-counter smoking cessation aid. But for some, the best way to stop smoking is to employ the use of a prescription medication. Varenicline reduces tobacco cravings and minimizes withdrawal symptoms as well as blocks nicotine receptors in the brain.3 Varenicline must be prescribed by a doctor and can be used in conjunction with NRT.
"The best way to quit smoking looks different for everyone. As you build your quit smoking plan, speak with your health care provider about which quit smoking aids make the most sense for your cessation journey."