Products and Aids to Help You Quit Smoking

Be More Comfortable as You Quit

Young woman wearing nicotine patch

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Hands down the best quit aid on the planet is your own will and determination. If you aren't motivated and committed to kicking the habit, no quit aid can help you. If you are ready to quit, any of them have the potential to work beautifully.

That said, there are a variety of products on the market today that are designed to help people stop smoking gradually. Choosing one that is right for you is essentially a matter of preference, barring any medical concerns you might have.

It's always a good idea to check with your doctor if you're thinking about smoking cessation to discuss what might work best for you before making a decision.

A Word About Cold Turkey

Cold turkey is the term used to describe quitting smoking without the help of quit aids of any sort. The advantage of this method is that the majority of nicotine is out of a person's body within a few days. The discomforts can be intense, but physical withdrawal is short. A lot of people are able to stop smoking successfully by going cold turkey, but if this sounds too extreme for your liking, quit aids are a good option.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) provide a measured dose of nicotine to help ease the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Unlike cigarettes, which consist of thousands of poisonous and/or carcinogenic chemicals, NRTs contain only nicotine. When used according to the manufacturer's directions, NRTs allow gradual withdrawal from nicotine by reducing the amount of it in each dose.

  • Nicotine Patch
    • The nicotine patch is one of the most popular NRTs available on the market today.
  • Nicotine Inhaler
    • The nicotine inhaler consists of a plastic cigarette-like tube that houses a replaceable nicotine cartridge and a mouthpiece. The cartridge contains nicotine which is released into the user's mouth and throat when inhaled.
  • Nicotine Nasal Spray
    • The nicotine nasal spray is inhaled through the nasal passages several times a day to relieve nicotine cravings.
  • Nicotine Lozenges
    • The nicotine lozenge comes in the form of a small, candy-like tablet. When placed in the mouth and allowed to dissolve, nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Nicotine Gum
    • Used as a chewing gum, nicotine gum comes in two strengths: 2mg for people who smoke less than 25 cigarettes a day, and 4mg for those who smoke 25 or more cigarettes a day.

The Downside of NRTs

Because NRTs contain nicotine, the addictive component in tobacco, there is a slight risk of addiction when using these products. However, if you follow the manufacturer's directions carefully and wean off the NRT of your choice as specified, this can be a safe and comfortable way to end your smoking addiction.

Nicotine-Free Quit Aids

Several quit aids are available now that do not use nicotine as the active ingredient. The following therapies are given under a doctor's care only.

  • Zyban
    • Bupropion hydrochloride, marketed under the names Zyban, Wellbutrin SR, and Wellbutrin XL by GlaxoSmithKline, is an anti-depressant drug that also works well as a quit aid. It has been shown to dramatically reduce physical withdrawal symptoms associated with nicotine.
  • Chantix
    • Discovered and developed by Pfizer, Inc, varenicline tartrate is marketed under the trademark of Chantix. Approved by the FDA in May 2006, Chantix has the unique ability to partially activate nicotinic receptors in the brain, which reduces cravings to smoke Additionally, if a person smokes during the course of Chantix treatment, the drug impedes smoking satisfaction by blocking nicotine from binding with these same receptors.

Other Methods and Remedies

  • Hypnosis
    • Hypnosis seeks to put people into an altered state of mind where they become more susceptible to suggestion. Research on its effectiveness helping smokers to quit smoking is inconclusive, but it may help some people without risk of serious side effects. Learn what you need to know to decide if it's right for you.
  • Self-Hypnosis
    • Studies show that self-hypnosis may effectively help with pain, childbirth, stress, anxiety, and some pediatric issues.  It is not proven to help with smoking cessation, but some people do say it's helped them quit while avoiding weight gain.
  • Acupuncture
    • Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice that uses needles placed at specific spots in the skin to treat pain or disease. There is some evidence that acupuncture might help people stop smoking, but more research is needed to see if it can effectively treat addiction to nicotine.
  • Lobelia as a Quit Aid
    • A medicinal herb used by Native Americans, Lobelia has qualities that are similar to nicotine while being 50–100 times weaker than nicotine. It is sometimes recommended as an herbal remedy for quitting smoking.

What About the Electronic Cigarette?

The electronic cigarette is a smoking alternative rather than a quit aid. It has not been approved in the U.S. as a quit aid as of yet, so there isn't a doctor-devised and approved quit plan to go with it.

Even so, a lot of people use e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking.

Bottom Line

Withdrawal from nicotine is just one part of the healing process we go through while recovering from nicotine addiction.

The rest of the story involves how we let go of the many mental associations that have built up over the years between smoking and our lives. Quit aids cannot help us with this aspect of healing, but support and education can.

Research and select your quit aid/method of approach, add some support and education, and you're on your way.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

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