First, congratulations! If you’ve gotten to the point of researching your options, then you have embarked on the first step of your journey to better health. We know that quitting is tough but if you’re committed to the fight, then we are committed to you.
Let’s get right to it. Nicotine replacement therapies are one of the first line options for patients and do not require a prescription to purchase them. This would be things like Nicoderm, a long-lasting replacement therapy and things like the lozenges and gums would be more short-term therapies. Generally, the starting strength of Nicoderm depends on how many cigarettes you smoke a day with the plan to step down in strength until you are off it completely.
Next, you have Chantix, which is a prescription medication used to assist with smoking cessation. It is believed that Chantix binds to the nicotine receptors in the brain, blocking the ability for nicotine itself to bind to it, but still allowing the receptor to release dopamine (a feel good neurotransmitter that also helps us focus and feel energized).
Bupropion, marketed as Zyban, is the other prescription medication used to help with nicotine withdrawal and can be used with a nicotine replacement therapy. It’s exact mechanism of action is unknown, but it is believed that it works on increasing dopamine levels as well. It is generally well tolerated, with an early side effect generally being insomnia, but this tends to resolve with use.
Behavioral therapy, alone or with pharmacotherapy, can be quite effective in assisting with smoking cessation. If you’re not sure what your resources are, you can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for local resources in your area.
Finally, there are some less proven interventions that people still swear are effective, such as hypnosis and acupuncture. The current evidence doesn’t support it, but if it works for you, then it works.
As I said before, quitting is tough. If you feel you are ready to take the leap, call your doctor and set up an appointment to go over your options. All medications have possible side effects so whatever route you take should be discussed first with your provider, ensuring you have a treatment plan that is both effective and safe.
Brooke Rieth, NP