Making the commitment to quit smoking is half the battle won. It’s not an easy journey, but it’s one on which you will always have a wealth of support. Being well informed and having a plan of action is the best way to begin. If you’ve been thinking about using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), but have several unanswered questions, you’ve come to the right place. Our Nicotine Replacement Therapy tells you everything you need to know.
What Is NRT?
Cigarettes are highly addictive, as you probably already know. The nicotine in tobacco leads to actual physical dependence and makes you crave cigarettes. Smoking a cigarette is the fastest and most efficient way to deliver nicotine to the brain, giving you an instant rush. If you’ve been a smoker, your brain is filled with nicotine receptors. When you take a puff, the nicotine reaches the receptors, giving you a heady rush. This doesn’t last long though- the nicotine soon fades, making the receptors eager for more and that’s when a craving strikes.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy is a medically approved way to take nicotine through means other than tobacco, thus keeping you safe from the other harmful chemicals in tobacco. NRT products such as nicotine gum, lozenges and patches give you therapeutic doses of nicotine to help you tide over strong cravings. NRT helps relieve the physical symptoms of withdrawal, so you can focus on the emotional and psychological aspects of quitting. It enables you to step down your nicotine dependence gradually. Studies have shown that using NRT can increase your chances of quitting smoking by 50% to 70%. A combination of NRT and behavioural counselling is known to be the most effective way of quitting successfully.
How does NRT work?
NRT is more effective than willpower alone!
For most smokers, the most difficult part of quitting is the withdrawal phase. A lot of people say that the tough withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings are their reasons for not giving up smoking. Using NRT reduces the physical withdrawal symptoms that make quitting smoking so difficult. A large amount of nicotine delivered through smoking cigarettes changes your brain chemistry to make you crave cigarettes more. NRT works over a limited period of time to rebalance your brain chemistry, which helps you withstand cravings and increases your odds of being able to quit. Combining NRT with intensive behavioural support has been shown to increase successful quit rates by more than 10 times over willpower alone.
Can I get addicted to NRT?
The chances of getting addicted to NRT are very low, unlike cigarettes
Nicotine Replacement Therapy products are very different from cigarettes. NRT products contain a regulated amount of nicotine that is much lesser than the nicotine in cigarettes and it is delivered more slowly. Breathing in smoke through the lungs when you light up a cigarette, gives the brain a rush of nicotine within 10 seconds of each inhalation, whereas NRT releases nicotine more slowly through the skin or the lining of the mouth. What’s more, NRT products have a much lower risk of addiction compared to cigarettes. The likelihood of long term dependence on NRT is very low.
Is NRT safe?
The safety of NRT has been established over 30 years of clinical use
There are many myths about NRT but most of them arise from a lack of knowledge and misinformation. NRT is a safe alternative to cigarettes for people looking to quit smoking. NRT safety profiles have been established over 30 years of worldwide clinical use. Studies show that long term use of NRT does not present any known health risk, nor does it create a dependence on NRT products. Nicotine is not a dangerous substance in cigarettes. Cigarette smoke contains many other harmful chemicals and it is these chemicals, not nicotine, that is responsible for heart attacks, cancer and lung disease. It’s important to remember that using NRT even for a very long time is much less harmful to your health than smoking for the same amount of time.
Are there any side effects of using NRT?
Side effects are rare if you use NRT correctly
It is quite rare to get side effects from the usage of NRT if it is used correctly and as per the directions. However, if you don’t use the products correctly, it can cause some problems. For example, if you chew the nicotine gum like regular gum and keep chewing it instead of using the ‘chew and park method’, or if you swallow the nicotine lozenge without waiting for it to dissolve completely, you can get an upset stomach. The discomfort linked with nicotine withdrawal can also be mistaken for an NRT side effect. For example, restlessness and having difficulty sleeping can be because of nicotine withdrawal but may be mistakenly linked to NRT.
How can I make NRT work for me?
You can make NRT work for you!
Think of NRT as a tool that is designed to help you quit smoking for good and that you can use as a part of your quit plan. The key to making NRT work for you is to have the right expectations at the outset of your quit journey. Remember that there is no magic potion or one-size-fits-all approach that works for everybody. The key is to find what works for you, and it’s okay to take your time, experiment and try different things as you go about your quit journey. What’s important is that you find a plan that works for you. Get informed, enlist support and speak to your healthcare professional when you develop your quit plan. A combination of NRT with focused behavioural counselling is known to have helped many people quit successfully and stay smoke-free, so reach out to a trained counsellor who can help you.