Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine cravings work a bit like hunger. The longer you go without food, the more
signals your brain sends to tell you to eat. It is the same with smoking. The longer
you go without a cigarette, the more signals your brain sends to tell you to smoke.
One way to overcome the body's need for nicotine is to stop smoking but continue
to supply your body with a small amount. As your body adapts to having less, you
will experience temptation less often. Eventually you can completely stop supplying
your body with nicotine. This is the idea behind Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).
The 4 kinds of Nicotine Replacement Therapy:
- Patches: These look like large adhesive bandages and are stuck onto the skin in
the same way. The sticky side of the patch contains a layer of nicotine. While you
are wearing the patch, the nicotine passes through the skin into your blood.
- Gum: This looks like chewing gum, but it contains nicotine. As you chew the gum
and hold it in your mouth, the nicotine passes through the skin inside your mouth
into your blood.
- Lozenges: These work like the gum, but you allow them to dissolve in your mouth
instead of chewing them.
- Inhalator: This is a device which looks similar to a cigarette. You load it with
a cartridge containing nicotine and suck air through it. Once the nicotine is in
your mouth, it is absorbed into the blood in the same way as it is for the gum and
lozenges. Inhalators are available with a prescription only.
Steady stream of nicotine
When you puff on a cigarette you get a rush of nicotine to the brain. You don't
get the same rush of nicotine from NRT as you do from cigarettes — instead
it delivers nicotine to your brain in smaller amounts and in a steady stream. This
reduces the symptoms you experience from lack of nicotine and makes it easier for
you to use your willpower to stop smoking.
NRT comes in different strengths. The strength you begin with depends on how much
you smoke or when you usually smoke your first cigarette. After you have been successful
using the initial dose for a while, you can usually switch to a lower dose. Eventually
you can stop using NRT altogether.
A safer nicotine
Using NRT means that you continue to take nicotine for a while after you stop smoking.
But this is safer than continuing to smoke. Nicotine is addictive, but it is the
other ingredients in cigarettes that cause the most harm to your body.
The bottom line
NRT will help you overcome your addiction to nicotine. You are twice as likely to
quit successfully if you use it. But you can double your chances of success again
if you combine it with a behavioral support program (BSP) like
NicoDerm® CQ®. The BSP will help
you learn how to give up your smoking habit and encourage you to keep using your
NRT. Together with your willpower, it can help you achieve a smoke-free life.