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This is a non-nicotine therapy developed speciﬁcally to help people stop smoking. It works in two ways – it reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms and it also diminishes the sense of satisfaction associated with smoking; potentially preventing a lapse from turning into a full relapse. Champix is only available on prescription from your GP and NHS Stop Smoking Services. You start taking the tablet while you are still smoking and set a quit date 8-14 days ahead. The dosage is gradually increased until you are taking 2 tablets a day. The treatment lasts for 12 weeks. The most common side effects are nausea and ;sleep disturbance.
Cigarettes deliver nicotine very quickly, which contributes to their addictive nature. However the nicotine in NRT is supplied in a slower and more controlled way. This is because NRT is designed to help you quit smoking and so gradually reduces your need for nicotine, until you don’t need it anymore.
All NRT products are available on prescription and can also be bought over the counter at pharmacies and large supermarkets. It’s important to complete the full course of NRT as this increases your odds of quitting successfully. Some NRT formats may also help reduce weight gain associated with quitting smoking. Here’s a brief description of the range of products available, to help you decide if NRT is right for you. Refer to individual packs for further details.
(NicAssist®, Nicorette®, Nicotinell®, NiQuitin CQ®)
Patches are most helpful to people who like to feel protected from cravings throughout the day. They are easy to use and should be applied to dry non-hairy skin such as the upper arm, thigh or chest. The patches offer a continuous supply of nicotine throughout the day to help relieve the withdrawal symptoms and physical cravings you’ll experience. You may still get urges to smoke but these will not be as strong.
A patch lasts either 16 or 24 hours, each of which come in three strengths delivering different amounts of nicotine, which is absorbed slowly through the skin. You are recommended to use them for up to three months depending on the brand you choose, starting off with the most appropriate strength for you. Always follow manufacturers’ instructions. Some people experience a slight itching or redness of the skin and this can be lessened by varying the position of the patch when you apply a new one.
(NicAssist®, Nicorette®, Nicotinell®, NiQuitin CQ®)
Nicotine gum helps you to control your cravings whenever you feel the urge to smoke. It is different from ordinary chewing gum and can have a slightly peppery taste, especially to begin with, so you may have to persevere in using it. It is important to use it properly to get the full benefit. The gum comes in two strengths, regular (2mg) and maximum (4mg) and in a choice of flavours. The brand you select will determine which strength you use. The gum should be chewed slowly and then rested between your gum and the side of your mouth, repeatedly, for about 30 minutes. You should gradually reduce the number of gums you chew over about 3 months.
Maximum strength NRT gum can also help reduce weight gain associated with quitting smoking. The nicotine is slowly absorbed through the lining of the mouth. The main side effect is a slight irritation of the mouth and throat, but this lessens with use. The gum is difficult to use if you wear dentures and can aggravate stomach ulcers.
(Nicotinell®, NiQuitin CQ®)
The lozenge is an effective alternative to the gum and is available in a variety of strengths. The brand you select will determine which strength you use. You take one lozenge every hour or two for the first few weeks and then gradually reduce the number you take each day over the next few weeks until you don’t need the lozenges anymore. Like the gum, the nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth. Research has shown that the 4mg NRT lozenge can also help reduce weight gain associated with quitting smoking.
The Microtab is a small white tablet containing nicotine that dissolves under your tongue. Don’t suck, chew or swallow it, as this will reduce the amount of nicotine that is absorbed through the lining of the mouth.
Nicotine Nasal Spray
The nicotine nasal spray is good for people who get severe withdrawal symptoms or who smoke heavily. The nicotine nasal spray comes in a bottle with a nozzle that delivers a dose of nicotine via a fine spray squirted into each nostril. It can be used up to 32 times a day. The nicotine is quickly absorbed through the lining of the nose. It mimics cigarettes more closely by giving a relatively fast effect. The spray may irritate your nose and throat, especially at first. However, if you persevere this lessens. NRT nasal spray can help reduce weight gain associated with quitting smoking.
The inhalator is helpful when your body craves the nicotine and your hands miss a cigarette. The inhalator looks like a cigarette holder, inside which you place a cartridge containing nicotine. 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.
Your GP will be able to advise if Zyban is suitable for you depending on your medical history. It is only available on prescription. Zyban is an effective treatment, which has helped many smokers to quit. It is a non-nicotine tablet. A course of Zyban tablets lasts two months. You start taking Zyban while you are still smoking and set a date for quitting during the second week of treatment. It is not suitable for people who have a history of blackouts, ﬁts, head injury or brain tumour but your GP will advise you further. The most common side effects are difﬁculty sleeping, dry mouth and headache.