Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Nicotine is the main substance that causes addiction and dependence on cigarettes. Other chemicals cause cancer, heart disease and other health issues.

The aim of NRT is to reduce craving and withdrawal but providing some of the nicotine obtained from cigarettes.

  • NRT is available over the counter from pharmacies and some shops.
  • Available as skin patch, chewing gum, inhalators, lozenges, tablets, oral strips, or nasal or mouth spray. All forms are equally effective if used correctly.
  • None of the replacements replicate the rapid effects of nicotine from smoking a cigarette.
  • Using NRT is safer than continuing to smoke.
  • Higher doses (4mg) are more effective than lower dose (2mg).
  • More than one form of NRT can be safely used together and is more effective than using a single product.

Two drugs are used for smoking cessation and do not contain nicotine. They are only available on prescription.

  • Varenicline (Champix) reduces the nicotine cravings and blocks the rewarding and reinforcing effects of smoking. It appears to be the most effective drug to help stopping smoking.
  • Bupropion (Zyban) is used to treat depression but was found to be useful to reduce nicotine craving as a side effect and can be prescribed as an aid to smoking cessation.

For more information on smoking cessation see the James case study.

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