Quit-Smoking Tools: Help for Kicking Your Habit

If you're a smoker and you need some more reasons to quit, take a look at what the U.S. Surgeon General has to say: If you stop now, you'll have a better quality of life and more years to live it.

As you likely already know, quitting smoking isn't easy. But millions of other people have done it—and you can, too. Quit-smoking aids, such as those listed here, can increase your chance of success:

  • Quit lines. When you call a quit line, you can talk with someone who's trained to help people quit smoking. It's free, and you can call almost any time. Find a quit line by calling the American Cancer Society.

  • Nicotine patches. They give you a measured dose of nicotine through your skin to fight cravings. And you can buy patches without a prescription. Several types and strengths are available. The one you choose depends on your body size and how much you smoked. Try to slowly decrease your dose. These patches have been known to cause trouble sleeping. If this is the case, remove the patch before going to bed. Replace it when you wake up.

  • Nicotine gum. This fast-acting form of nicotine replacement doesn't need a prescription. And it comes in 2 strengths: 2 mg and 4 mg. Chew the gum slowly until it tastes peppery. Then place the gum against your cheek. Switch between chewing it and placing it next to your cheek for about 20 to 30 minutes. But don't eat or drink anything when using the gum. This reduces nicotine absorption. Scheduling your doses throughout the day may work better for calming cravings.

  • Nicotine nasal spray. A prescription nasal spray sends nicotine quickly to the bloodstream. So it eases withdrawal symptoms right away. The spray offers a sense of control over cravings. Most smokers using it report great results. But it can cause sneezing and watery eyes because it tastes peppery. The FDA advises using it only for up to 6 months.

  • Nicotine inhalers. Using this prescription device is like smoking a cigarette. When you puff on the inhaler, a cartridge inside the plastic tube gives off nicotine. But the medicine doesn't go into your lungs. It's delivered to your mouth for quick absorption.

  • Nicotine lozenges. These over-the-counter lozenges also are available in 2-mg and 4-mg strengths. You decide which dose to take based on when you usually had your first cigarette of the day. You'll absorb less nicotine if you eat or drink while using a lozenge.

  • Bupropion. This non-nicotine prescription medicine affects chemicals that are responsible for cravings. So it reduces withdrawal symptoms. It has the active ingredient bupropion. This is used as an antidepressant. You can use it alone or with nicotine-replacement therapy.

  • Varenicline. This oral prescription medicine reduces nicotine withdrawal symptoms. It also decreases the pleasure you get from smoking. Side effects can include changes in mood or behavior. It is important to use this medicine under medical supervision.

Quit-smoking aids can help you have a smoke-free future. But it's also smart to develop a plan to change your personal habits and set up a network of emotional support. Turn to family and friends, and your healthcare provider. He or she can give you valuable information on quitting.

Online Medical Reviewer: Eric Perez MD
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Wanda Taylor RN PhD
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2019
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