Nicotine replacement therapy

medication

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These are treatments which make giving up more comfortable. They reduce or remove the physical symptoms of withdrawal. NRT can make it easier for you to give up while you change your habit and attitude towards smoking. This can increase your chances of success. People who give up without help or treatment have a 2-3% success rate. Your doctor, pharmacist or the person from your local HSE Quit service can advise you about NRT and how it may help you to give up smoking.
You can get NRT in the following forms: patches, gum, lozenges, inhaler or strips. Please read the information leaflets provided with each treatment.

When deciding which treatment to use, think about the following:

  • how addicted you are to nicotine,
  • your smoking habit and routine,
  • your lifestyle and how well each treatment would fit in with this.

You can find out how addicted you are and how to change your routine by starting your quit plan today.

You will need a doctor’s recommendation for NRT if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Are under 18
  • Have had a recent heart attack.

Nicotine replacement therapy is available to medical card holders free of charge with a doctor’s prescription.

About nicotine

Nicotine is what makes smoking hard to quit. It is not the nicotine, but the tar and carbon monoxide in a cigarette that cause illness. NRT replaces the nicotine that your body misses when you quit, and you cut out the tobacco smoke that contains 4,800 chemicals. NRT replaces just enough nicotine to relieve the cravings and withdrawal symptoms – restlessness, anxiety, lack of concentration, hunger pangs and so on.
One of the biggest problems we meet in our clinics is that people stop using their treatment too soon. After quitting gets easier in week 1-3, they assume that they are now ‘cured’ from their addiction and can do it alone. They stop using the treatment before they have learned to change their habit and attitude towards smoking. Within 2-3 days of stopping NRT, the withdrawal symptoms return and they relapse. You are more likely to succeed if you stay on your treatment for the recommended time.

Nicotine patches

This treatment reduces or removes the withdrawals you can have when you give up smoking. Patches suit the moderately addicted smoker. They can be used for 16 hour or 24 hour periods. There is no difference in the effectiveness of 16 hour and 24 hour patches. They work by giving you a steady dose of nicotine into the blood through your skin. The 24 hour patch keeps the nicotine levels constant and is for people who smoke as soon as they wake up and people who smoke during the night.
Put the patch on a different part of your body each day so it won’t irritate your skin. Some people may have high skin sensitivity or react badly to the adhesive or latex in the patches. If this happens to you, switch to a different form of NRT. The nicotine doses in the patches can poison children and animals so be careful where you store and dispose of them.
Your GP, pharmacist or stop smoking advisor will be able to advise you if nicotine patches are suitable for you and explain how to use it correctly.

Nicotine gum

Nicotine gum relieves withdrawal symptoms and gives you something to do with your mouth in place of smoking. This can help change your habit of smoking.
The gum is available in various strengths depending on how addicted you are to nicotine, your GP, pharmacist or stop smoking advisor will be able to explain how to use nicotine gum correctly.

Nicotine inhaler

The inhaler (sometimes called an inhalator) is made up of a mouth piece and cartridges which contain nicotine. When you inhale, the nicotine and menthol vapour is sucked into your body. This is absorbed into the blood through the lining of your mouth and throat. The mouthpiece is like a pen and replaces smoking with the hand and mouth action. It will suit you if you miss the routine of smoking and the puffing sensation.
Your GP, pharmacist or stop smoking advisor will be able to advise you if the nicotine inhaler is suitable for you and explain how to use it correctly.

Nicotine lozenge

The lozenge comes in various strengths depending on how addicted you are to nicotine. Some people prefer the taste of lozenges over other oral forms of NRT. Nicotine is absorbed into the blood through the lining of your mouth as you suck. Lozenges may irritate your mouth and stomach and cause hiccups as you swallow the nicotine.
Your GP, pharmacist or stop smoking advisor will be able to advise you if the nicotine lozenge is suitable for you and explain how to use it correctly.

Mouth spray

The oral spray is Nicotine Replacement Therapy that delivers nicotine into your body through the lining of your mouth. It helps you give up smoking by replacing some of the nicotine you get from cigarettes. When you release the spray into your mouth it slowly releases nicotine into the body. This helps relieve some of the unpleasant symptoms smokers get when they quit. It can also help relieve your cravings for a cigarette and help you resist the urge to smoke. Use the NRT mouth spray for at least 8 – 12 weeks. Continued use can help prevent relapse. Your GP, pharmacist or stop smoking advisor will be able to advise you if the mouth spray is suitable for you and explain how to use it correctly.

Nicotine oral strips

The oral strip is Nicotine Replacement Therapy that delivers nicotine quickly into your body through the lining of your mouth. It helps you give up smoking by replacing some of the nicotine you get from cigarettes. When you place the strip into your mouth and press to the roof of your mouth it releases nicotine into the body. This helps relieve some of the unpleasant symptoms smokers get when they quit. It can also help relieve your cravings for a cigarette and help you resist the urge to smoke. Use the NRT oral strips for at least 8 – 12 weeks. Continued use can help prevent relapse. Your GP, pharmacist or stop smoking advisor will be able to advise you if the oral strip is suitable for you and explain how to use it correctly.