Quitting smoking is a difficult and laborious process for many people. It may take many tries to accomplish complete smoking cessation. Fortunately, consumers have a number of products that can help them in their journey to becoming a non-smoker. These products vary in effectiveness, not all products are right for everyone.
The decision to stop smoking is an important one that displays a commitment to caring for your health over the long term.
You may decide you need a little help over the first days and weeks while you face withdrawal from nicotine. Using one of the many products now on the market for smoking cessation can be helpful in this process, but not all of these products are equally effective. If one product is not helpful to your situation, try another. Always stay focused on the ultimate goal of being tobacco-free.
Nicotine toothpicks are one of the newer methods of smoking cessation. They are much safer than cigarettes and even e-cigarettes. With nicotine toothpicks, you get the oral fixation as well as the relief of about 3.0mg nicotine per toothpick. This is enough to crush your cravings and enjoy the calming effects of nicotine.
With nicotine toothpicks, there is no smoke going into your lungs which is infinitely better for your health.
Nicotine Replacement Patches
Nicotine replacement patches have one of the higher rates of success in helping people to stop smoking.
One type of nicotine replacement patch is available in 21-milligram, 14-milligram and 7-milligram strengths, which allow you to “step-down” the dose of nicotine over a period of 12 weeks. This gradual method of decreasing nicotine can be an effective method for quitting for some people. However, at 6 months, research data shows that about the same number of individuals relapse to smoking as those who simply use a cold turkey method of cessation.
Interestingly, a higher rate of success is seen in those people who know they are receiving a nicotine patch rather than a placebo, and when they are actually paying for the patches. These nicotine patches are applied to the skin and left in place for 24 hours. Side effects include itching and rashes at the site of the patch, as well as a headache, stomach upset, diarrhea and vivid dreams. Nicotine patches are available without a prescription.
Nicotine lozenges come in a rounded, lozenge form that is taken as needed when cravings arise. They have been found to be about as effective in helping people to quit smoking as other nicotine replacement products. The lozenge is dissolved in the mouth over a period of time to release the nicotine. They deliver nicotine to the brain more directly than patches, which can be helpful in managing sudden cravings. Each lozenge lasts about 20 to 30 minutes. Nicotine continues to leach into the body from the mouth tissues for a short time after the lozenge is dissolved. You must avoid eating or drinking within 15 minutes of using the lozenge. Many people do not like the texture of the lozenges, which is often described as “chalky.” Nicotine lozenges may be more socially acceptable than gum chewing for some social or work situations. Side effects of nicotine lozenges include soreness of the mouth and teeth, indigestion and throat irritation. Nicotine lozenges are also available without a prescription.
According to some studies, nicotine replacement gum appears to be slightly less effective in helping patients to quit smoking than nicotine patches, yet still helpful for those who wish to gradually reduce their nicotine levels. Nicotine gum is available in 2-milligram and 4-milligram strengths. The small piece of nicotine gum is chewed and held against the cheek until a peppery flavor is detected, which indicates that the nicotine is being released. Using the gum increased the level of success 2 to 6 times greater than those who used a placebo, six months after quitting. Nicotine gum comes in a variety of flavors, such as mint, cinnamon and fruit-flavored. Side effects include jaw tenderness from chewing, mouth sores and stomach upsets.
Nicotine inhalers are another method of nicotine replacement therapy that can be helpful in smoking cessation. They have been found to be more effective than placebos for quitting nicotine. Called a “puffer,” the device is a plastic tube with a porous plug at the base. Puffing on the cartridge delivers nicotine vapor to the user. Each cartridge delivers up to 400 puffs of vapor. A physician must prescribe nicotine replacement inhalers. Side effects include mouth irritation, coughing, runny nose and upset stomach.
Nicotine Nasal Spray
Nicotine nasal spray is an aqueous solution of nicotine that is sprayed into the nose to reduce cravings. This type of delivery system may be particularly helpful for heavy smokers who need fast help with intense cravings. A physician must prescribe nicotine nasal spray. Side effects include nasal irritation and congestion.
Smoking Cessation Medications
Zyban and Chantix are two common smoking cessation medications. These do not contain nicotine.
They work by blocking the effects of nicotine, while also controlling the symptoms of withdrawal. These medications are often used in combination with nicotine replacement products to increase the odds of successful cessation. However, these medications are only available with a doctor’s prescription. The medication is in pill form, and can be taken for up to 6 months to increase the off of success. These medications should only be taken under the supervision of a physician. They can have serious side effects, such as mood problems, hostility, agitation and even suicidal ideation and behavior. Other medications, such as anti-depressants and some high-blood pressure drugs, are also showing some success in reducing symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Discuss these options with your physician.