Quitting smoking can be difficult. Fortunately, quitting smoking products and resources are available to help you quit. Medications and counseling can drastically improve your chances of success.
Select a link below to learn more about available medications (both nicotine based and non-nicotine based), quitting tips, and additional outside resources.
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Nicotine Smoking Cessation Drugs
Nicotine replacement is one option available to aid in quitting smoking. As you probably already know, nicotine is very addictive and abruptly quitting can lead to various symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms may include depression, trouble sleeping, irritability, anxiety, increased appetite, and an urge to smoke.
Nicotine replacement products are generally used for a short time after quitting. These products provide a small amount of nicotine to help one deal with the craving for nicotine and other withdrawal symptoms. These products can DOUBLE your chances of quitting for good.1
Over The Counter Nicotine Replacement Products2
All over the counter nicotine replacement products shown below are FDA-approved and available in both brand name and generic versions. They include the following:
Skin Patches: Sold under the brand name Nicoderm® and Habitrol.
Chewing Gum: Sold under the brand name Nicorette®.
Lozenges: Sold under the brand name Nicorette® Lozenge. (Previously sold under the brand name Commit®)
Prescription-Only Nicotine Replacement Products2
Prescription-only nicotine replacement products are available only under the brand name Nicotrol®. They are available as either a nasal spray or an oral inhaler.
What to Consider Before Beginning Nicotine Replacement Therapy2
Talk to your doctor before using these products if you have diabetes, heart disease, asthma, stomach ulcers, a history of a recent heart attack, high blood pressure uncontrolled by medication, or a history of irregular heartbeat.
If you take a prescription medication for depression or asthma, let your doctor know that you are quitting because your dose may need to be adjusted.
Non-Nicotine Smoking Cessation Drugs
There are two medications that are FDA approved to assist in quitting smoking that do not contain nicotine. Both come in tablet form on a prescription-only basis.
They include the following:
- Chantix®. Chantix acts at the same sites in the brain as nicotine. Chantix eases withdrawal symptoms by providing similar effects to nicotine. It also blocks the effects of nicotine if you resume smoking.
Common Side Effects: Nausea, constipation, gas, vomiting, trouble sleeping or vivid, unusual, or strange dreams. Less common but more serious side effects include allergic reactions, serious skin reactions, and trouble driving.1
- Zyban®. Zyban helps patients stop smoking though the mechanism is unclear.
Common Side Effects: Dry mouth and insomnia. Less common but more severe effects include seizures, allergic reactions, and increased blood pressure.2
A Special Note: In 2009, the FDA required both products to include new safety information warning of potential side effects such as change in behavior, depressed mood, hostility, and suicidal thoughts and actions. Speak with your doctor about these products if you decide you want to quit smoking.2
Quitting Smoking Tips
Quitting smoking is by no means easy, but you can quit. More than half of all adult smokers have permanently quit. You can too.1
The following five tips will give you the best possible chance of quitting for good.
1) Prepare to Quit:
- Set a quit date.
- Get rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and work.
- Think about WHY you want to quit. Literally, write down your reason on a piece of paper. A real reason for quitting will greatly help your success in quitting.
- If you have tried to quit previously, take time to review your past attempts to quit. Ask yourself what worked and what did not.
2) Get Support and Encouragement: Everyone needs support sometimes. While trying to quit smoking is one of those times. Get support in the following ways:
- Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you are going to quit and that you would like their support. Also let them know why you want to quit. Ask them not to smoke around you, offer you cigarettes or leave cigarettes around you.
- Talk to your doctor. Tell your doctor that you are quitting and ask for advice.
- Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. While talking to others about your problem may not be fun, it doubles your chance of success.3,4
3) Get Medication and Use it Correctly:
- Medications can help your stop smoking and reduce the urge to smoke.
- There are seven FDA approved medications to help you quit smoking. Talk to your doctor about which product is best for you.
4) Change your Behaviors and Daily Routines:
- Change your daily routine. Take a different route to work. Eat lunch at a different location or time. Change your workout. If you stick with your old routine, you’ll be more reminded of your past smoking breaks.
- When an urge to smoke occurs, try to distract yourself. Talk to a colleague, take a walk, or get busy with a task.
- Reduce your stress every day. Get some exercise, read a book, or watch a favorite show. Try to do something enjoyable every day.
5) Be Prepared for Difficult Situations and Possible Relapse: It takes effort to quit smoking. There are many ways to quit, but none are easy. Do not be discouraged if you relapse. Many people try several times before successfully quitting. Be prepared for the following difficult situations.
- Social drinking. Any drinking lowers you chance of success. If you do not want to avoid drinking altogether, make sure to tell your friends before a night out of your commitment to quitting smoking.
- Other smokers. Being around someone that is smoking can make you want to smoke.
- Weight gain. Most smokers will gain some weight when they quit smoking, usually less than 10 pounds. Be prepared for this potential weight gain. Eat healthy and stay active. Remember, quitting smoking is much better for you than a temporary weight gain. In time you can get back to your previous weight.
- Bad mood or depression. You will likely be irritable in your initial phase of quitting, so be prepared. Medication can help reduce these mood swings but don’t forget to do something enjoyable every day and get some exercise.
Resources for Quitting Smoking
Need additional help quitting smoking? Find additional resources for quitting smoking here.
When you call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, you will have access to many different types of cessation information and services, including free support and advice from an experienced cessation counselor, a personalized quit plan with self-help materials, social support and coping strategies to help you deal with cravings, and the latest information about cessation medications. 1-800-QUIT-NOW is a free service to help people stop smoking and other forms of tobacco use.
1-877-44U-QUIT provides free information and advice about quitting smoking through a confidential online text chat with an information specialist from the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service
Smokefree.gov can help you or someone you care about quit smoking. The Website provides information and professional assistance via the Internet. 1-800-QUIT-NOW is the free phone number associated with smokefree.gov.
2. FDA 101: Smoking Cessation Products. FDA Consumer Health Information; January 2010.
3. Prevention CfDCa. Quitting Smoking Among Adults-United States, 2001-2010. Vol 60: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; 2011: 1513-1519.