Breaking a habit can be tough to do, particularly if that habit is smoking. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of Americans are addicted to smoking with close to 70 percent of those smokers want to quit. The problem is tobacco products are highly addictive because they contain nicotine, a psychoactive drug. Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as alcohol, cocaine or heroin, and the CDC says it’s the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States.
Because of that dependence, the chance of a relapse is high for those who quit, and many may end up making multiple attempts at breaking the habit. If you are part of that 70 percent of people who want to stop smoking, or if you’ve tried and relapsed in the past, use this smoking cessation product roundup to find the best possible solution to your smoking problems.
Over-The-Counter Nicotine Replacement
There are different types of smoking cessation products, and these over-the-counter (OTC) products are usually the first that people try since they are easily accessible. These products contain a certain amount of nicotine and are designed to wean you off of the substance gradually over time. They may be able to curb the symptoms of withdrawal as well as cravings and they do not contain any other chemicals that are found in cigarettes. Some of the most common OTC nicotine replacement products include:
- Chewing gum – If you like to chew gum, than this may be a good option for you. Nicotine gum comes in a variety of brands and flavors and can be used in combination with other smoking cessation products. However, nicotine gum can’t be chewed like regular chewing gum; you must bite it in a certain way to release the nicotine and you must chew a piece every one to two hours for up to 12 weeks.
- Lozenges – If chewing gum seems like too much strain on your jaw, lozenges may be a better option for you. Lozenges must be used in the same way as gum – once every one or two hours for up to 12 weeks – and they are also available in a variety of flavors and brands. They can also be used in combination with other smoking cessation products.
- Patches – “The patch,” as it’s often referred to, slowly releases nicotine into the body. Because it’s long-acting, it can be placed on the body and left there for up to 24 hours. However, you won’t be able to control the amount of nicotine that is released into your body as you can with gum and lozenges in case of cravings or withdrawal symptoms. Patches can also cause vivid dreams and skin irritation, so don’t use them if you have a skin condition.
- E-cigarettes – These smoking cessation products look like real cigarettes, but they are electronic and either operate on batteries or must be charged like other electronic devices. E-cigarettes release nicotine with a push of a button, but unlike other nicotine replacement products, they do release other chemicals as well. The health effects of this product aren’t really known yet, but the U.S. Food And Drug Administration has issued safety warnings about the use of e-cigarettes.
The following smoking cessation products are available by prescription only, so if you’ve relapsed in the past or if you feel that OTC products may not be enough for you, consult with your doctor to find out if one of these products is the best option for you:
- Nicotine inhaler – The nicotine inhaler will release a dose of nicotine when you puff into it. It’s meant to be used for up to 12 weeks and since it’s short-acting like gum and lozenges, it can control any symptoms of withdrawal that may arise. It also keeps your hands busy, which can keep cigarette cravings at bay.
- Nicotine nasal spray – The nasal spray allows the nicotine to be absorbed through the lining of your nose and it works faster than the inhaler, gum and lozenges. It can be used in combination with the patch and other smoking cessation products, but it’s not recommended for those who have nasal or sinus problems. Since the spray must be used in each nostril two to three times an hour, it can also be inconvenient.
Non-Nicotine Prescription Products
Unlike the aforementioned products, the following products do not contain any nicotine but they are only available through a prescription:
- Zyban – Zyban is a prescription pill that is believed to increase the levels of certain brain chemicals to decrease cravings and withdrawal symptoms. However, the way Zyban works exactly is not yet known and the FDA has required Zyban to carry a black box warning, which is the most severe warning that a prescription pill can have. Zyban has been associated with mental health problems after taking it or ceasing to take it.
- Chantix – Chantix is also a prescription pill and it works by blocking the nicotine receptors in the brain. However, it also has been associated with mental health problems and is required to carry a black box warning.
How To Choose The Product That’s Right For You
Before you try any of these products, you should consult with your doctor, particularly if the product requires a prescription. Your doctor may be able to give you more information on each product, such as the side effects and health risks, to help you decide which is best for you.