As the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, smoking is a dangerous habit that can devastate your health. The CDC reports that cigarette smoking causes one in five deaths in the country, either through lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, or cardiovascular disease. Though the dangers of cigarette smoking are well-known, many smokers find it hard to turn away from the habit. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a way for smokers who want to quit to receive their nicotine fix in a less harmful way. This article will discuss NRT and the medications that make it more successful.
What is nicotine replacement therapy?
Nicotine replacement therapy is a treatment used to help people stop smoking. It involves using products such as patches and gums that contain nicotine but at lower levels than cigarettes. It is used as part of a program that includes behavioral support and medicine.
NRT is available in different forms, including gums, lozenges, inhalers, nasal sprays, mouth sprays, and patches. The VELO pouches on Prilla, which come in various strengths and flavors, demonstrate how satisfying nicotine cravings can be very convenient. Unlike tobacco products, these products will not stain the teeth or make clothes smell like smoke because they are tucked under the lip. NicoDerm CQ patches, on the other hand, show how tapering off smoking can be done discreetly. These transdermal products, pressed to the skin under the clothes, provide a steady stream of nicotine throughout the day.
The goal of NRT is to get the nicotine level in your body down to where it would be if you were not smoking. The dose will depend on your smoking habits and medical history. You will need to talk with your doctor about which form will work best, given your condition, and how much NRT you should use.
Medications used in nicotine replacement therapy
When patients use medications in combination with NRT, they have an improved chance of being successful at quitting smoking. Here are three drugs that are commonly used with NRT:
1. Varenicline (Chantix)
Varenicline (Chantix) is a medication that helps people quit smoking by reducing the amount of nicotine they get from cigarettes. It works by binding to nicotinic receptors in the brain that are associated with nicotine addiction. The medication helps people quit smoking by reducing their desire for cigarettes and making them less likely to smoke when they crave nicotine. It also reduces the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, irritability, depression, low energy levels, and restlessness.
2. Bupropion (Zyban)
Bupropion (Zyban) is an antidepressant that helps reduce cravings for cigarettes and improves your ability to cope with stress. The drug affects certain chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters, which are responsible for sending messages between brain cells. Bupropion affects the brain’s reward system and interferes with nicotine’s effects on the brain. It does this by increasing dopamine levels, making it easier to quit smoking without experiencing cravings or withdrawal symptoms.
3. Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
Nortriptyline (Pamelor) is a tricyclic antidepressant popularly used to treat anxiety and depression. It works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, which can help reduce symptoms of depression. It has been found to help people quit smoking by reducing their cravings for nicotine and decreasing symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal. Nortriptyline was found to be more effective than a placebo in lowering smoking urges and withdrawal symptoms.
NRT, in combination with these prescribed medications, is a great way to kick your smoking habit permanently. In our post titled “Why Medication Adherence Is Important to Your Treatment Plan”, we emphasized the risks of stopping medication without your doctor’s advice, such as withdrawal symptoms, severe health conditions, and drug resistance. The success of NRT and medications relies on your consistency and commitment to your treatment plan to quit smoking for good.