Nicotine Replacement Therapy is one of the best and impressive ways to fight withdrawal symptoms after smoking cessation.
Nicotine threatens lungs, liver, brain and other vital organs by invading these organs when smoke from tobacco is inhaled.
Burning tobacco when smoking cigarettes renders the human body addicted not only to nicotine but to a plethora of as many as 7000 toxic chemicals like Benzene, Carbon Monoxide, Formaldehyde, Nicotine and Methanol, to mention a few.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy introduces Nicotine in low amounts without the harmful effects of other toxic chemicals.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy has been success fully used in many Asian and American countries, and has been endorsed by the World Health Organization.
These countries have witnessed a phenomenal fall in the smoking rate after having implemented NRT.
The method is popularly used to fight withdrawal symptoms, curtail nicotine cravings and in combination with other behavioural techniques for abstinence from smoking.
The Highlights of Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine Replacement Therapy is a medically approved means of administering nicotine to the human body, other than by taking tobacco.
It enables regular smokers who are addicted to nicotine, to emancipate themselves from the strong affinity and to give up smoking in a phased and pain-free manner.
- By using different NRT products like nasal sprays, patches, inhalers, gums and lozenges, body is subjected to regular intake of smaller and measured doses of nicotine, without other toxic substances found in tobacco.
- Step-by-step, nicotine intake is reduced and so is addiction to tobacco. NRT has been successful in reducing the stimulus to smoke cigarettes and use other tobacco products, by as much as 50% to 70%.
- When compared to abrupt stopping of smoking, resorting to NRT is helpful in easing withdrawal symptoms which include mental fatigue, depression, irritation, nausea, dizziness, weight gain and anxiety, among others. Fighting physical dependence towards nicotine is strong and might lead to people becoming heavy smokers. Most smokaholics even tend to smoke a few cigarettes a day, to ease the withdrawal symptoms. NRT pitches in with support.
The implementation chart for NRT
Subscribing to Nicotine Replacement Therapy is like inviting a fresh and smoke-free life. However, the effectiveness of NRT lies in implementation and execution of the therapy.
Unless, the following essentials are put to practice, results may not be very tangible:
- Though the internet is full of fodder on NRT products, therapies and methods, it is always ideal to take the professional help of a medical practitioner before adopting a preferred NRT method.
- Observe your smoking pattern and ascertain your level of dependence on cigarettes, so that it is easy to arrive at the ideal NRT method. The doses of nicotine in NRT are determined according to the pattern of smoking habit.
- NRT is not to be used alongside consumption of other drugs for treating smoking cessation symptoms.
- The timing and schedule of NRT must be adhered to religiously and any slackness in administration will lead to failure of the therapy as a whole.
- While some people like to introduce NRT after the decision to quit smoking, others start on it gradually when reducing smoking.
- They are many wellness clinics, Stop Smoking Initiatives as well as the suppliers of NRT products who may offer follow-up and counselling services to support smokers on NRT.
Different forms of Nicotine Replacement Therapy
There are hundreds of NRT products found in the market.
Normally they are non-prescription products, sold over the counter and may include the following forms, collectively called as acute dosing nicotine products.
Nicotine gums deliver the prescribed amount of nicotine to the blood stream by means of tissues found in the mouth.
They must be chewed for a while and then retained in the cheek, till the nicotine taste fades and must be bitten into, again, for maximum effects.
- Nicotine gums come in a variety of flavours like fresh mint, spearmint, pepper mint as well as fruity flavours like strawberry and cherry. A pack of 100 pieces of 4mg nicotine gums range from $ 40 to $ 60.
- Different strengths such as 2mg (about one-third of nicotine found in a cigarette) and 4mg (two-thirds of Nicotine in a cigarette) are available, depending on number of cigarettes normally smoked. For smokers who smoke more than 18-20 cigarettes a day, it is advisable to go in for 4 mg gums.
- One gum can be used for one hour after which a fresh piece is to be used. Care must be taken not to eat the chewing gum or to eat or drink with the gum in mouth, since swallowing nicotine through saliva can cause heart burn or stomach problems.
- It might so happen that your nicotine cravings are so strong that they cannot be satiated with by the nicotine gum alone. In such cases, the gum must be used in combination with other NRT products.
- When you are using Nicotine gum, take care not to drink high acid drinks like sodas and juices of citrus fruits etc.
Nicotine patches aid in smoking cessation, by controlling nicotine cravings and attention deficit leading to break-down of the resolve to quit smoking.
Nicotine patches are bands that are worn on the skin for gradual release of nicotine that is absorbed into the body by layers of the skin.
- In terms of time taken for weaning oneself from nicotine addiction, the patches take about 10 weeks when the 21 mg dose is taken.
- Smoking is strictly not permitted when using Nicotine patches, as is the case with all other NRT products as this may diminish effectiveness . Depending on the number of cigarettes smoked per day, Step 1 (for more than 10 cigarettes a day) and Step 2 (for less than 10 cigarettes a day) can be opted for.
- Careless usage like not cleaning body parts before using the patches, applying it on parts where there is excessive perspiration, not ensuring that the transdermal patches are properly fastened onto skin can lead to delayed results.
- Any nicotine patch consists of an adhesive layer and a layer of nicotine pack from where nicotine is released onto the skin. It can be worn continuously for 10-16 hours, after which the body parts is to be washed thoroughly.
- On the basis of time (24 hour or 16 hour nicotine patches or on the basis of nicotine strength (21mg, 15mg, 10 mg), many ranges and brands of Nicotine patches are available.
- Following a rigorous and accurate time schedule for wearing the patch and removing it will help in reducing withdrawal symptoms and aid in abstinence, faster.
- By scheduling the timing when nicotine craving is at its worst, the desire to reach out for the pack of cigarettes can be effectively fought.
- Nicotine patches from popular brands like Equate, Habitrol and Nicoderm cost between $ 25 to $ 40 for 14 patches.
Nicotine Lozenges/ Sublingual Tablets
Nicotine lozenges are small sublingual tablets that dissolve in the mouth to provide required nicotine intake to the body, to ward off nicotine cravings without the ill-effects of chemicals.
It can assist in weaning off dependence on nicotine.
- By dissolving discreetly in the mouth, using lozenges are a hassle-free way to redeeming smokers from tobacco.
- When dissolving in the mouth, nicotine is released in the saliva which then mixes with the blood stream and satisfies nicotine cravings.
- Unlike gums and patches, which are visible when used, adding to the social issues during smoking cessation, lozenges can be used in a subtle fashion, without attracting mush attention.
- It enables smokers to take control of their nicotine cravings, through the day, although consuming more than 15 lozenges per day is not advisable .
- Another common mistake done by users is to swallow the lozenges, leading to inefficient performance. Lozenges are not to be chewed or swallowed. They need to be retained in the mouth for about 30-40 minutes before they dissolve.
- Nicotine Lozenges come in regular and mini sizes, in varying sizes of 2 mg and 1.5 mg. Smokers with consumption of more than 20 cigarettes in 24 hours can go in for 4 mg, whereas 2 mg lozenges can be consumed by those who smoke less than 20 nos. a day.
- Phasing out of lozenges needs to be done gradually and might take about 8-10 weeks, on an average.
- On the cost perspective, 7 piece qui tube containers of 27 lozenges in each tube, cost around $ 60 – 65.
Nicotine Mouth Spray
Another effective pick from the Nicotine Replacement Products marketplace are mouth sprays which are very convenient and quick to use.
They are found to be proven deterrents of tobacco addiction, by effectively fighting nicotine cravings.
- Compared to other forms of NRT, mouth sprays result in faster absorption of nicotine into the human body. As a result, nicotine cravings come down successfully.
- The number of sprays that can be safely are about 1 to 2 sprays in an hour, which may vary from person to person.
- Usually, it takes about 12-15 days for the cravings to subside totally and lozenges can be phased out accordingly.
- It is recommended not to eat or drink whilst the mouth spray is in action.
- As in the case of other products, the nicotine must not be swallowed, instead must be allowed to dissolve gradually, making way for maximum absorption. As such, people must not swallow when using the mouth spray. To facilitate this, it is better to spray inside the cheek or under the tongue.
- Unless used careful and in required doses, mouth sprays can lead to dryness of mouth, vomiting, hiccups and headaches.
- 150 sprays of Nicotine are sold for about $ 30 and comes in various flavours.
Other popular NRT products include nasal sprays, e-cigarettes through which smokers can inhale pre-heated vapours of less toxic chemicals, rapid release gum and high-dose nicotine patches.
Leading diehard smoking aficionados to a tobacco-free lifestyle
It cannot be argued that any means of therapy is better than quitting smoking naturally on self-stimulus.
However, getting rid of strong addiction may be difficult for heavy smokers, in whom excessive nicotine intake has led to the creation of strong cravings and physical dependence.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy aids and facilitates people in slowly turning a new leaf and adopting a tobacco free life.
- The nicotine intake enabled by NRT products are very minimal when compared to cigarettes and other tobacco products. As such the harmful effects of the killer-chemical start declining from day one.
- smoking causes people to inhale various other toxic chemicals. Absence of these destroyers in NRT products, will be helpful in making cigarettes less pleasurable, over time.
- Various studies have indicated that using NRT with psychotherapy techniques enhance the rate of quitting smoking and also prevents from people falling back into their past addictions.
- NRT reduces the unpleasantness caused by withdrawal symptoms. People who are desirous of quitting smoking, but have been unsuccessful due to unconquerable fear of these symptoms can take up NRT as a welcome deviation and can find themselves gradually getting prepared for the ultimate path to smoking cessation.
NRT has seen a spurt in application and administration, with smoking rates plunging down in case of patients.
Advanced methods of nicotine introduction such as nicotine vaccine, nicotine pre-loading and pulmonary inhaler are used to enhance nicotine delivery rates to the body.
Critic-speak on NRT and debunking popular myths
Like any other upcoming therapeutic solution to life-long stigmas, NRT meets with criticism, which have been rebuffed on scientific grounds.
NRT has proved to reduce the liking towards cigarettes and frees thousands of people from lifetime of nicotine addiction.
- Critics argue that nicotine overdose may be dangerous. Here the real issue is with regards to administration and not NRT itself. Seeking medical assistance before and during the therapy can ease such issues.
- NRT may yield negative effects when used with other tobacco based products. It is better to consult your personal health care provider on when to start on the NRT, since the need and peculiarities of nicotine requirement might vary significantly from one person to another.
- It is argued that NRT increases to probabilities of heart attacks. However there is no medical basis to prove any cardio-vascular risk, associated directly with NRT. Heart patients might seek advice of their cardiologist before beginning NRT.
- It is not recommended to start on NRT for pregnant women and children, as there may be undesirable side effects like psychological disorders. Breastfeeding mothers should not subscribe to NRT unless under medical guidance.
- Nicotine Replacement products are manufactured according to strict specifications from medical experts and do not contain cancer causing substances, as often misinterpretated. Years of scientific research on the tar and other harmful chemicals contained in cigarettes have proved that there is nothing life-threatening that is contained in nicotine, if administered in measured doses for a few months. This forms the essence of NRT.
- Cases of heart burns, skin rashes, itchiness, sleeplessness, headaches and flatulence are reported to have found while using Nicotine Replacement Products.
- NRT is wrongly adjudged as a costly alternative to other means of smoking cessation. However, this is far from true. Many countries are extended free/ subsidized supply of smoking cessation aids. In any case NRT will definitely end up less than a life time supply of cigarettes.
NRT used in conjunction with Behavioural Techniques for smoking cessation
It must be reiterated that NRT is a therapy that only addresses the physical aspect of the problem.
To uproot tobacco dependence entirely, mental cleansing is required so that the determination to stay away from tobacco is maintained for life.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy is most effective when used with Behavioural Therapy.
- Pairing NRT with psychological therapies to quit smoking have proved more effective than NRT used in isolation.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a well-known psychotherapy method. Under this therapy, negative thinking patterns are altered and positivity is induced by way of both cognitive and behavioural approaches.
- The therapist uses a set of behavioural techniques in conjunction with Nicotine Replacement products to strive for the best results.
- The major techniques used include stimulus control, cognitive restructuring, training on impulse tolerance and emotion regulation. The therapist hand-holds the client in identifying unhelpful thought patterns and replacing addictive behaviours with productive ones.
How to overcome resistance to smoking with NRT
Nicotine Replacement Therapy is a permanent end to smoking. Neither can it erase withdrawal symptoms completely.
It can facilitate reduction in nicotine cravings and can reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.
By reducing the urge to smoke, phase by phase, it acts as a roadmap to smoking cessation. To make the most out of NRT, users must heed some instructions and must use NRT in an effective way:
- Though there are people, who continue smoking while under NRT, this should never be done. NRT is most effective when it is introduced during the countdown to quit smoking. So whenever smokers are challenged with the urge to reach out for one more pack of cigarette, NRT products can be used.
- The rate of smoking must be cut down steadily and on a consistent basis, and slip-ups in between are to be avoided.
- NRT is helps smokers cope with withdrawal symptoms by causing release of Dopamine in the body. This way tobacco based products become less craved for, leading to systematic abstinence from smoking.
- Compliance of people undergoing NRT is very important. Consistence in treatment methods, schedules, dosage and timing must be adhered to rigorously. There have been cases where treatment has proved ineffective, due to intermittent lapses during therapy.
- When it comes to choosing the right product, there is no one single product that is deemed best over the others. The various products are to be used in combination with other products and this combination is subject to changes as and when needed, heavy in the beginning, moderate in ensuing weeks and tapering towards the end.
What the future hold in store for NRT?
Nicotine Replacement Therapy has made good progress in the field of tobacco cessation.
Several research studies have proved that controlled dosages of nicotine reduces physical dependence on tobacco and other harmful chemicals contained in it.
From simple, off the prescription nicotine replacement products, scientists are working to evolve:
- Complex products that can accelerate faster absorption of nicotine in body like nicotine vaccines, also called in layman’s terms as Stop Smoking Shots. The NicVax is an experimental as well as conjugate vaccine that has been developed to reduce nicotine dependence. Similarly companies such as Novartis and Celtic Pharma are also actively leading the research to develop powerful vaccines that can aid smoking cessation better. True Pulmonary Inhaler and e-cigarettes are also doing spectacular rounds in enabling people quit smoking.
- Many pharmaceutical firms, research centres and the Government are expanding their research and development in the evolvement of sophisticated smoking cessation aids in order to help people manage their withdrawal symptoms better.
- The new trend is towards using a combination therapy to be administered along with NRT. Rehabilitation centres offer one-on-one counselling to walk people out of negative syndromes.
- The counsellor hand-holds the smoking cessation plan which is tailor made for each person and offers extensive support 24 x 7 over phone and mail.
- NGOs organize many awareness campaigns where smoking freaks are familiarized with various strategies involved in NRT. As an additional step, various misconceptions associated with NRT products and usage.
With the right methods implemented with professional guidance, NRT is sure to restrict provocative impulse to smoke and inhale the mean effects of burnt tobacco.
NRT helps in pulling the preventable malices of this fatal addiction to a stop. The results are evident and should not be clouded by the opinion of a few critiques who try to belittle NRT by supporting baseless myths and taboos.