Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Quitting Smoking : Nicotine Replacement Therapy


Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) has been proven to double a smokers chance of quitting successfully. Part of the reason why cigarettes are so addictive is because it delivers nicotine to the system quickly. NRT works by supplying nicotine to the body in a slower, more controlled method.

There are a number of NRT options available to you. It is important to complete a course of NRT treatments. This will increase your chances of quitting smoking using this method.

Remember: you are twice as likely to quit smoking using NRT or Zyban as you are using any other method!

Nicotine Patch

Nicotine patches are designed to be used by people who smoke regularly during the day. They are discreet and easy to use and are very effective in combatting cravings and nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine patches work by delivering a continuous, controlled dose of nicotine into your body to help relieve cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The nicotine is released through your skin over 16 hours. It is absorbed quite slowly compared to smoking a cigarette so you should be prepared to wait a little while longer for the nicotine to get into your system.

Patches generally come in three strengths to deliver different amounts of nicotine to the system which is absorbed slowly through the skin. Nicotine patches should be applied to dry, non-hairy skin like the upper arm, chest or thigh.

Side effects include dry, itchy skin. This can be alleviated by changing the position of the patch on your body.

Nicotine Gum

When you chew nicotine gum it releases controlled amounts of nicotine into your body (about a third of the nicotine in a cigarette) to help you deal with cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

To begin with nicotine gum can have quite a bitter taste to it so it might take a bit of getting used to. Since it’s not ordinary chewing gum, you need to use a different method of chewing. First chew the gum slowly until the taste becomes strong. When this happens, rest the gum between your cheek and teeth. Chewing the gum releases the nicotine which is then absorbed through the lining of the mouth. When the taste has faded chew the gum again.

Nicotine gum usually comes in two strengths: regular (2mg) and maximum (4mg). You can also get it in a number of different flavours.

Courses of nicotine gum usually last three months. To begin with you’ll be using 10-15 pieces of gum each day which will gradually reduce over the three month course.

As a result of the nicotine being absorbed through the lining of the mouth, some people suffer from a mild irritation of the mouth and throat but this does not usually last for long.

Nicotine Microtab

Microtabs are particularly suitable for those who want a flexible but discreet form of NRT. They are small tablets containing nicotine which are absorbed into your body through the lining of your mouth.

They are particularly effective at relieving the withdrawal symptoms some people experience when giving up smoking.

You should never suck, chew or swallow the microtab as this reduces the amount of nicotine absorbed into your body.

Nicotine microtab courses usually last for at least 12 weeks. The number of microtabs you take depends on how many cigarettes you used to smoke. A 20 a day smoker would normally take 2 tabs per hour.

As with nicotine gum, some mild irritation to the mouth and throat have been reported from people using microtabs but this is generally a temporary side effect.

Nicotine Lozenges

Nicotine lozenges are an alternative to nicotine gum. They essentially work in the same way by absorbing the nicotine through the lining of the mouth.

You take one lozenge every hour or two for the first few weeks of the course and then gradually reduce your intake until you no longer require them. Lozenges are available in a number of different strengths although research has shown that the 4mg lozenge can also help combat weight gain associated with qutting smoking.

Nicotine Nasal Spray

Nicotine nasal sprays are particularly suitable for heavier smokers who want a flexible form of nicotine replacement therapy.

Nasal sprays contain nicotine and are designed to be sprayed into your nostrils. Here it is rapidly taken into your body to help relieve nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms without the harmful carbon monoxide, tar and irritants in tobacco smoke. It relieves the urge to smoke, allowing you to concentrate on breaking the ritual.

It should be used 10-15 times per day with a maximum of 2 doses per hour. Generally courses last up to three months.

Users have reported mild irritation to nose and throat especially early in the course. Watery eyes and sneezing is also common but these effects dull after a short period and should not stop the use of the spray.

NRT nasal spray is also useful for combatting weight gain associated with quitting smoking.

Nicotine Inhalator

The inhalator is ideal for those people who think that they will miss the hand-to-mouth habit of smoking. It provides a slow release of nicotine into the system and because it is held like a cigarette it also keeps your hands busy!

The inhalator is made up of a mouthpiece and a replaceable nicotine cartridge. You simply suck on the inhalator when you get a craving. Nicotine is taken into the mouth and the back of the throat but not into the lungs.

You should use between 6-12 cartridges per day for the first 8 weeks then for the next 2 weeks reduce this by half. Over the following 2 weeks, gradually reduce the number of cartridges you use to zero.