This information will help you understand your choices, whether you share in the decision-making process or rely on your doctor's recommendation.
Key points in making your decision
In the past, the only way to quit smoking was "cold turkey." Today, you have the option of using nicotine replacement products that can make the process easier. This information also applies if you use spit tobacco products, such as chew or snuff, or if you smoke cigars or pipes. Consider the following when making your decision:
- Studies show that using nicotine replacement products to quit smoking can double your chance of success.1
- The reason many people go back to smoking is because of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine replacement products help relieve these symptoms.
- Some people who use nicotine patches develop itching and redness on their skin where they applied the patch.
- Some insurance companies will pay for all or part of the cost of nicotine replacement products used to quit smoking.
- If you smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes a day, you may not need these medicines.
What is nicotine replacement therapy?
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) helps reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and cravings by supplying your body with nicotine. It contains about one-third to one-half the amount of nicotine found in most cigarettes.
There are many forms of nicotine replacement products to choose from:
- Nicotine gum and lozenges release nicotine slowly into the mouth.
- Nicotine patches stick to your skin and slowly release nicotine through your skin into your bloodstream.
- The nicotine inhaler has a holder that contains nicotine. It delivers a puff of nicotine vapor into your mouth and throat.
How can using nicotine replacement therapy help me quit smoking?
When you stop smoking, your body will begin to crave the nicotine it used to get from cigarettes. Some people have severe withdrawal symptoms when they stop using tobacco. You may feel grouchy and on edge. These withdrawal symptoms, and others, can make it very difficult to quit. In fact, many people return to smoking just to get rid of the withdrawal symptoms.
Using nicotine replacement products can ease your withdrawal symptoms. This makes it easier for you to quit smoking and avoid a relapse.
If you need more information, see the the topic Quitting Smoking.
Your choices are:
- Using a form of nicotine replacement therapy.
- Not using nicotine replacement therapy.
The decision about whether to use nicotine replacement therapy to help quit smoking takes into account your personal feelings and the medical facts.
Deciding about nicotine replacement therapy
| Reasons to use nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking|| Reasons not to use nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking|
- You smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day.
- You have withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, insomnia, and grouchy behavior, when you go too long without a cigarette.
- You have tried to quit in the past without using nicotine replacement therapy and started smoking again.
- You can get nicotine gum, lozenges, and patches without a prescription.
- You think a nicotine inhaler might work for you because you still need to hold something in your hand.
- You like the idea of putting on a patch in the morning and forgetting about it until bedtime.
Are there other reasons you might want to use nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking?
- You smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes a day.
- You have sensitive skin that may have a reaction to the adhesive in the nicotine patch.
- You cannot use a nicotine inhaler because you have asthma, allergies, or another breathing problem.
- You are younger than 18.
Are there other reasons you might not want to use nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking?
These personal stories may help you make your decision.
Wise Health Decision
Use this worksheet to help you make your decision. After completing it, you should have a better idea of how you feel about using nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking. Discuss the worksheet with your doctor.
Circle the answer that best applies to you.
|I am ready to quit smoking.||Yes||No|| Unsure|
|I don't want to quit smoking "cold turkey."||Yes||No||Unsure|
|I'm ready to ask my doctor about nicotine replacement therapy.||Yes||No||Unsure|
|I'm not ready to quit nicotine, but I think I can stop smoking using nicotine replacement products.||Yes||No||Unsure|
|I want to use some form of nicotine replacement therapy when I quit smoking.||Yes||No||Unsure|
Use the following space to list any other important concerns you have about this decision.
What is your overall impression?
Your answers in the above worksheet are meant to give you a general idea of where you stand on this decision. You may have one overriding reason to use or not use nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking.
Check the box below that represents your overall impression about your decision.
Leaning toward using nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking
Leaning toward NOT using nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking
Return to the topic Quitting Smoking.
Talwar A, et al. (2004). Pharmacotherapy of tobacco dependence. Medical Clinics of North America, 88(6): 1528–1529.
|Author||Debby Golonka, MPH|
|Editor||Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA|
|Associate Editor||Michele Cronen|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||John Hughes, MD - Psychiatry|
|Last Updated||July 24, 2007|