What are the Different Types of Stop-Smoking Medications?

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  • Written By: B. Schreiber
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 22 March 2020
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Stop-smoking medications fall into one of two categories, those that contain nicotine and those that don't. Some contain nicotine, which alleviates withdrawal after smoking cessation and allows the quitter to avoid the symptoms associated with quitting all at once. Examples include nicotine gum, a patch, and inhaler. Bupropion, marketed as Zyban&reg and Wellbution&reg, is a non-nicotine anti-depressant medication that has been found to help people quit smoking. Another of the non-nicotine stop-smoking medications, Chantix&reg, works by decreasing the pleasure smokers obtain from the nicotine in cigarettes.

Nicotine replacement therapy is the name given to stop-smoking medications that deliver the nicotine formerly supplied by cigarettes or smokeless tobacco. In the United States, nicotine gum and the nicotine patch are two types of nicotine replacements that are available over the counter, meaning they don't require a prescription. Both the gum and the patch come with various nicotine doses that can be matched to how much a person smoked. A nicotine patch delivers a constant amount of nicotine through the skin throughout the day in order to reduce the craving for tobacco. Nicotine gum can be chewed in response to cravings or on a set schedule and is usually taken for a number of weeks.


Nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays are also nicotine replacements, but require a doctor's prescription in the United States. While they deliver nicotine more quickly than the gum and patch, their potential for abuse and negative side effects is greater. The nicotine inhaler is sprayed in each nostril for a single application. The nicotine inhaler allows nicotine to be absorbed through the lungs, like cigarettes, when the user has the desire or a craving for a cigarette. The spray and inhaler have more safety precautions, and all directions should followed carefully.

One of the stop-smoking medications is an anti-depressant called bupropion that has been approved in the United States to help people quit smoking. As a smoking cessation aid, it is better known by the brand-name Zyban&reg, to which it is chemically identical. Bupropion works by decreasing the desire to smoke as it is taken over a period of weeks. While the side effects of bupropion are generally mild, it requires a prescription and shouldn't be taken by people who use other anti-depressant drugs.

Varenicline, or Chantix&reg, is another prescription drug, but it is prescribed specifically to help people quit smoking. It is usually taken for seven days before a smoker's planned quit date, after which it reduces the pleasurable effects associated with smoking. In comparison with other stop-smoking medications, varenicline may have more serious side effects that should be discussed with a doctor.



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"Speed Limits to a No Smoking Zone." The moderate way to stop smoking!

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