What are the Different Kinds of Nicotine Treatment?

D. Jeffress
D. Jeffress
Chewing tobacco.
Chewing tobacco.

A nicotine addiction can be one of the most difficult habits to break, even for the most strong-willed individuals. Fortunately for people who are ready to quit, there are many proven products and therapy programs designed to help patients overcome their physiological and psychological dependence. Some of the more common medical nicotine treatment options include gums, patches, inhalers, and lozenges that deliver small nicotine fixes. Prescription drugs that reduce withdrawal symptoms and urges to smoke help many people as well, though there are risks of negative side effects. Support groups, self-help publications, and one-on-one therapy also can encourage people to learn to manage their urges and begin living healthier, happier lifestyles.

A chronic smoker can experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms when he quits.
A chronic smoker can experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms when he quits.

Nicotine replacement therapy is an effective nicotine treatment option for many addicts who are ready to quit. Items such as gum and patches contain nicotine, but not the other harmful carcinogens found in tobacco products. Many nicotine replacement therapy products come in different strengths designed to provide the approximate amount of nicotine that people are used to getting each day. For example, medicated gum is often available in 2 milligram doses for addicts who normally smoke less than one pack per day, and in 4 milligram doses for heavier smokers. Patches that are attached to the skin deliver similar concentrations of nicotine.

Nicotine gum can help gradually wean someone off of a nicotine addiction.
Nicotine gum can help gradually wean someone off of a nicotine addiction.

It is essential to follow the instructions on the packaging when using a nicotine replacement product to avoid accidental overdose and achieve the desired effects. If nicotine treatment is not carefully regulated, a person may experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, and occasionally heart palpitations and seizures. An individual who is concerned or confused about certain products can ask a doctor or pharmacist about how to use them safely.

Nicotine patches can help people gradually wean themselves from the chemical.
Nicotine patches can help people gradually wean themselves from the chemical.

People who have tried nicotine replacement products and failed may want to consider prescription nicotine treatment. Drugs such as varenicline are designed to block nicotine receptors in the brain and promote the release of the pleasurable chemical dopamine. Many patients have markedly reduced urges to smoke and fewer withdrawal symptoms when using varenicline for about 12 weeks. Another medication called bupropion, which also acts as an antidepressant, is an effective stop-smoking aid for some people. Nausea, headache, insomnia, and other more severe side effects are possible when taking either drug.

Psychological barriers, such as a person thinking they need to smoke while drinking coffee, can cause people to give up attempts at quitting.
Psychological barriers, such as a person thinking they need to smoke while drinking coffee, can cause people to give up attempts at quitting.

For many addicts, overcoming their problem is more difficult than simply curbing their physical dependence to nicotine. Psychological barriers, such as thoughts that they "need" cigarettes with coffee or during social gatherings, cause many people to give up on their attempts at quitting. For these types of smokers, nicotine treatment in the form of personal therapy and support groups can be highly effective. Counselors and community groups can provide tips on avoiding urges to use tobacco and focusing energy elsewhere, such as on exercise, art, and other healthy activities. With the proper support and attitude toward quitting, it is very likely that a person will be able to break the habit for good.

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