The therapy involves several methods like nicotine gums, sprays, patches and inhalers etc that form a part of the nicotine replacement therapy. The idea is to get nicotine into the bloodstream without having to smoke tobacco. It helps in gradually decreasing the amount of nicotine ultimately getting rid of the same. This works well when used in combination with behavioral therapy. It helps in coping with the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Below are the tips to getting started to quit smoking and use nicotine replacement therapy;
- Consult a therapist or doctor who would help in deciding the type of NRT that would suit you.
- Set a start date to start using NRT. This can be done the subsequent day you end smoking or you can use NRT while still smoking thereby gradually quitting the tobacco.
- Ensure that you use the NRT regularly and in adequate doses.
- The therapy should be used at least for 8-12 weeks as this would increase your chances of quitting smoking.
- Gradually reduce the NRT dose and finally stopping the same.
Different Types of NRT
- Nicotine Gum: These are available in two strengths 2mg and 4mg. Ideally, start with 15 pieces of the gum per day. It should be chewed slowly to effectively release the nicotine so that it is absorbed in the bloodstream. The gum can be chewed until the taste fades completely. Gradually decrease the number of gums per day and stop them completely. This might not be an ideal option if you wear dentures and also not everyone likes the taste of the gum.
- Nicotine Patches: These release nicotine into the bloodstream when stuck on to the skin. These are available in different strengths and or of two types. One that can be used when you are awake and the other that can be used 24 hours. The former is known to last up to 16 hours. It is important you gradually reduce the strength of the patch over time.
- Nicotine Nasal Spray: It aids in nicotine absorption into the bloodstream from the nose. This mimics the nicotine intake that you get from smoking a cigarette. Irritation in the nose and throat and watery eyes are some of its side effects.
- Nicotine Mouth Spray: It is similar to nasal spray in action and helps you cope with sudden surges of craving. Ensure that you do not use more than two sprays at a time and not more than 64 in a day.
- Nicotine tablets/lozenges: These are not to be swallowed and placed under the tongue. These are known to be one of the easiest to use and the absorption of nicotine takes places through the mouth.
Facts about Nicotine Replacement Therapy
- One can sometimes combine two types of therapies in order to cope up with the withdrawal symptoms better. For example, the patches can be used in combination with the spray to cope with sudden cravings. It can also help in increasing your success rate to quit smoking.
- NRT is by far the safest to be used if you are pregnant and want to quit smoking. Gum, lozenge, spray are some of the preferred methods to be used during pregnancy.
- Avoid using the NRT products at least one hour before to breastfeeding. This is because it can lead to a significant increase in the nicotine levels of the breast milk.
- When using NRT the withdrawal symptoms might not be completely gone and are only reduced. If you experience any symptoms of dizziness, irregular heartbeat, mouth problems, skin swelling, weakness contact your healthcare professional immediately.
- Long-term usage of the NRT products can lead to the dependence being transferred from tobacco to these products. Hence these should be used only as long as required.