When it is time for you to stop smoking, there are often more options for nicotine replacement therapy than you realize. It isn’t always as simple as putting on the patch or using an e-cig, some things work better for people than others. What you need to do is educate yourself so you know what your options are, build the right support systems to help you quit and then try the different nicotine replacement therapy options until you find one that works for you. Here is a brief overview of the pros and cons of the major nicotine replacement therapy options.
E-cigs and E-Liquids
Although E-cigs and e-liquids are not considered an NRT, they are becoming a more popular nicotine alternative that many are using with great success in weaning themselves off of nicotine. They deliver liquid nicotine in a vaporized form. The e-liquids are available in many flavors, but also in varying nicotine levels so cutting down is easy. While you are still getting nicotine, you aren’t getting the additional chemicals, tar and other byproducts of a combustible. While there is some controversy about the long-term use of e-cigs on your health, studies have shown that in the short term almost 60% of the people who use them as a nicotine alternative have success with quitting. The short-term use of an e-cig is not known to present a health risk.
There are many stores and sites that promote the use of herbal cigarettes in which there is minimal or no tobacco as a means of replacing nicotine. Unfortunately, many of the herbs used – while safe to ingest – are not safe to smoke. They also produce the same level of tar and carcinogens as a cigarette. Another concern is the lack of regulation on this product. The herbal cigarette may contain pesticides and other elements that you don’t need to be smoking.
This is the most well-known of the nicotine replacement therapy types. Nicotine polacrilex is found in the gums, lozenges and patches that are sold over the counter in most stores. It can help you to reduce the effects of cravings and withdrawals by delivering a time released amount of nicotine over the course of the day. While useful for many people, some people have a reaction to the drug, and it can increase their anxiety, cause nausea and disturb sleep. If you try some and find that you don’t like the way it makes you feel, stop using the product and try something else.
Zyban, Wellbutrin, and other medications.
There are also several drugs that are available by prescription only that are used as a kind of nicotine replacement therapy. They aren’t delivering any nicotine, but they are working on the receptors of the brain that nicotine triggers. This can significantly reduce cravings, as well as work to eliminate the anxiety and restlessness associated with nicotine withdrawal
You can also skip the nicotine altogether and just use an oral substitute such as chewing gum or flavored toothpicks. While this can work, it usually only works for those who have not been smoking for a long time, or who have smoked very little on a daily basis. Oral substitution does not address any of the physiological effects of nicotine on the body and brain that you will be withdrawing from. They can be effective after you have passed through withdrawal to keep yourself from picking up smoking again.
How to find what will work for you
You should talk to your doctor before considering using nicotine polacrilex or wanting to try any of the prescription drugs. These may interfere with medications you are already on, and they also aren’t recommended for anyone with a history of suicidal ideation or depression. Your better bet is to go with the nicotine replacement therapy alternatives like the e-cig and the oral substitutes. By combining these two, you have an effective way to quit the habit of smoking without replacing it with anything worse.
Lifestyle changes are also needed
There is a lot of information available to help you understand the lifestyle changes you can make to help yourself quit. Adopting a better diet and adding more activity to your life will make any of the nicotine replacement therapy options work that much better. Since a great fear is the weight gain associated with quitting, the simple solution is to get better at watching what you eat while working out more. It doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym for an hour a day, making a small change to working towards walking 10,000 steps a day can be all that you need.
Making sure you have everything in place
One last thing that has to be in place to make sure the nicotine replacement therapy of your choice has the best chance of working is to put your support system in place. Pick a day and announce your intention to your family and friends to quit. Use online support resources too. There are groups that will let you text them for support if you have a difficult craving. Don’t hesitate to ask for support or help, you need everything on your side to help you quit and quit for good.