Tobacco contains nicotine, an addictive drug of abuse, which is released when an individual smokes tobacco in cigarettes. This drug causes numerous health problems in both the active and the passive smokers. Half to two-third smokers throughout the world make one attempt in average every year to quit smoking. However, it is not very easy to give up smoking as the nicotine in tobacco causes various unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal every time an individual attempts to quit. Some people can successfully give up smoking on their own. But, many smokers find it difficult to stop due to the nicotine withdrawal symptoms. There are numerous aids to stop smoking such as medicines, nicotine, gum and nicotine patch. Some of these are prescription medicines while the others can be availed over the counter. This article deals with the best stop smoking aids available in the market.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
The nicotine replacement therapy is the most common aid used for giving up smoking. The medications used for this purpose help an individual quit smoking and remain away from tobacco. These stop smoking aids have received positive reviews from ex-smokers all over the world and are effective in gradually driving away the cravings for tobacco.
The nicotine patch is a relatively safe stop smoking aid and in Canada, it is sold without prescription. It is available under various brand names, in different dosages. There are some patches that have to be worn 24 hours while the 16 hour nicotine patches can be taken off during night. A single patch cannot be used for more than one day. The typical dosage of nicotine patches ranges between 7 mg and 21 mg. It is advisable to consult a doctor before using a nicotine patch if one has an irregular heartbeat, is suffering from angina or recently had a heart attack.
Functioning of the Nicotine Patch
The function of this patch is to deliver a minute quantity of nicotine through the skin of the person wearing it. This nicotine helps the individual to fight the withdrawal symptoms while stopping smoking. However, the patch cannot help the person get rid of the symptoms completely as it delivers the nicotine continuously at low doses instead of high doses at small intervals (which occurs when one smokes tobacco).
Duration of Using Nicotine Patch
The patch therapy generally continues for 3 months. But, heavy smokers may be asked to wear the nicotine patch for a longer duration of time. Smokers generally start using patches of the highest dose, switching to lower doses after one month and then again at 2 months. However, heavy smokers may require the biggest dosage for longer periods. People often make the mistake of quitting the patch earlier than indicated by the expert. One should never cut a nicotine patch in half.
Side Effects of Using a Nicotine Patch
The nicotine patch may cause some common side effects such as sleep disturbance and skin irritation. In case of severe skin irritation, one can switch brands and start using patches from another brand and use proper lotion which helps to cure the problem. Sleep disturbances caused by the patches are usually temporary and occurs due to nicotine withdrawal.
In Canada, the nicotine gum or the nicotine chewing pieces are available without prescription. These chewing gums come in various dosages, usually starting from 2 mg to 4 mg units. The individual trying to give up smoking can decide the number of gum to be chewed per day. In most cases, smokers use 2 to 10 pieces in a day. Therefore, chewing nicotine gum allows one to feel more comfortable compared to wearing the nicotine patch as it delivers the nicotine at small intervals which resembles the dosage one gets when smoking. But the chewing pieces cannot entirely prevent the craving for tobacco and the withdrawal symptoms.
How to Use Nicotine Gums?
It is important to use the gum properly for it to work. One should not chew it like a normal gum. One should bite the gum a few times before keeping it between the gum and cheek for some time and then repeat the process after a few minutes.
For most people, it is sufficient to use the gums for around 3 months. However, some individuals need to use it for longer periods of time. In some rare cases, people may become addicted to nicotine gums. But these chewing pieces do not cause serious health problems and cancer as they do not contain the harmful chemicals present in tobacco.
Risks of Using Nicotine Gums
These chewing pieces can cause serious health problems in people who have an irregular heartbeat, are suffering from angina or recently had a heart attack.
The nicotine lozenges or nicotine pills are small candy like tablets used as a stop smoking aid. Individuals trying to give up smoking keep a lozenge in the mouth to control the urge to smoke. Each lozenge takes 20 to 30 minutes to dissolve and during this time, it delivers low doses of nicotine into the bloodstream.
Dosages of Nicotine Lozenges
These lozenges are available in 2 mg and 4 mg dosages. During the first to sixth week of therapy, an individual takes 1 lozenge every 1 to 2 hours. The dosage comes down to 1 lozenge every 2 to 4 hours during the seventh to ninth week. From the tenth week to the twelfth week, one generally does not require more than 1 lozenge every 4 to 8 hours. Taking any more than 5 nicotine lozenges in 6 hours can be harmful for the health.
Nicotine Nasal Spray
Nicotine nasal spray is a nicotine solution which is used for fighting the cravings for tobacco by people trying to quit smoking. One has to spray this solution into the nose so that the bloodstream can absorb it through nasal mucosa.
Duration of Using Nicotine Nasal Spray
Generally, an individual continues to use the standard dosage of nasal spray for 8 weeks. After that, the daily dosage is reduced over the next 4 to 6 weeks until the person succeeds in quitting smoking.
Nicotine inhaler is an aid that helps one to stop smoking successfully. It is a plastic tube that resembles a cigarette and has a nicotine cartridge (replaceable) and a mouthpiece. There is 10 mg of nicotine in the cartridge.
Duration of Using a Nicotine Inhaler
An individual is generally prescribed to use up to six cartridges every day for 3 to 6 weeks. However, one can use higher dosages for longer periods of time under the doctor’s supervision.
Nicotine Free Stop Smoking Aids
There are various new nicotine free stop smoking aids available in the market. However, one cannot use these products without a doctor’s supervision.
Bupropion Hydrochloride is a prescription drug that is used for lessening the severity of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms. This stop smoking aid is sold under the brand names of Zyban and Wellbutrin. The fact that Bupropion can significantly diminish the withdrawal symptoms makes it more useful for people who have been unable to give up tobacco using other methods.
Pfizer, Inc. discovered and developed the prescription drug named Varenicline Tartrate as a smoking cessation aid. This stop smoking aid is marketed under the brand name of Chantix. It works on 2 levels. In the first level, Chantix activates specific parts of the brain called nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. These parts of the brain mainly get affected by nicotine. The drug reduces the symptoms of withdrawal and makes it easier for an individual to remain away from smoking. The second level of the functioning of Chantix is to neutralize various harmful effects of nicotine in case an individual smokes while under medication.
Natural Stop Smoking Aids
Various herbal remedies are used for recovering from the nicotine addiction.
The herb Lobelia inflata or Lobelia is a natural stop smoking aid used for fighting the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. It is also known as “Indian Tobacco”. Many non-smoking products use Lobelia as a main ingredient. Lobeline, the active ingredient in this herb, is believed to have the same effects on the human body as nicotine.
St. Johns Wort
St. John’s Wort or Hypericum perforatum is a medicinal herb primarily used for treating depression. Some researches prove it to contain certain ingredients that can help people to give up smoking.
Various components in Ginseng are useful for preventing the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, due to nicotine intake. This dopamine is responsible for the good feeling one has after smoking, making him or her addicted to tobacco.
Other Stop Smoking Aids
There are some other processes, including hypnosis and acupuncture that help one to give up smoking.
Hypnosis or hypnotherapy is a useful stop smoking aid; however it is not used as commonly as the earlier mentioned aids. In this process, an individual is hypnotized and is convinced that he or she does not want to smoke anymore. This process works well for some individuals but not for everyone.
It is an alternative medical therapy, originally from China. In this process, various diseases and disorders are treated by placing needles at specific places in the skin. Acupuncture is used for treating nicotine addiction.
Electronic cigarettes or E-cigarettes are useful stop smoking aids. They are battery operated, cylindrical objects resembling a regular cigarette in appearance. E-cigarettes create the sensations that resemble smoking tobacco, by delivering a nicotine spray. However, smoking electronic cigarettes is not exactly the same as smoking tobacco because the e-cigarettes do not contain all the harmful components that are present in tobacco.
Stop Smoking Aids Side Effects
The aids used in the nicotine replacement therapy can cause several side effects. Following are the possible side effects of using nicotine replacement therapy like the nicotine tablets, inhalers and sprays:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Mouth problems
- Watering eyes
- Stomach upset
- Change in taste
- Dental problems
Using Bupropion may cause the following side effects in some people:
- Dry mouth
- Change in appetite
Using Stop Smoking Aids during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy causes various health problems for the unborn baby. It harms the heart, lungs and brain of the baby. The stop smoking aids available in the market can cause serious complications in pregnant women. Due to this reason, Quitting smoking cold turkey is the best option during this period. Both pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult a physician before using the nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine patch, chewing pieces, inhalers and sprays.
The herbal stop smoking aids should not be used during pregnancy and when breastfeeding. The herbs Ginseng, Lobelia and St. Johns Wort are able to cause harm to both the mother and the unborn child.
Giving up smoking has become much easier at present with the development of numerous stop smoking aids. One can use nicotine replacement therapy or E-cigarettes if giving up tobacco gradually works for him or her. There are also many nicotine free and natural stop smoking aids that help one to successfully quit smoking.
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