Everybody's journey to becoming smoke free is different. Some people can manage to give up cigarettes from sheer willpower and determination. Others, they may need some extra assistance to help them walk away from cigarettes. In this article, we’ll learn about Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), how it works, and the different types of NRT available. While using NRT alone will not make you stop smoking, it is a useful tool that could help you break the habit and eventually quit smoking for good.
What is Nicotine Replacement Therapy?
Nicotine Replacement Therapy is a controlled form of medication that gives you nicotine, without the chemicals that come with smoking cigarettes. It comes in chewing gum, derma patches, sprays, inhalers, and lozenges. While NRT isn’t a magic cure, it can assist those that are wanting to give up smoking by alleviating the urge to smoke.
When you smoke, your body becomes very reliant on the nicotine in cigarettes. This is because nicotine is highly addictive. Quitting smoking is easier said than done. Those who have tried to quit before know that quitting smoking can come with a whole range of withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, restlessness, depression, anxiety, increased hunger and some even experience weight gain.1 Using NRT products could relieve some of these symptoms and be the solution that helps you give up smoking for good.
While some people have successfully quit smoking using NRT alone, NRT is often more successful when paired with additional support such as counselling or other assistance. There have been some studies that suggest combining NRT with vaping is also an option for some smokers to successfully quit smoking.2
Types of Nicotine Replacement Therapy products
Nicotine Replacement Therapy comes in many different forms. While all NRT products can help relieve nicotine cravings, what works for you might not work for someone else. Let’s take a look at the different types of NRT products so you can choose the right option for you.
Nicotine patches are one of the more commonly used forms of NRTs. You use them by simply applying the trans-dermal patch to your skin. The patch then delivers nicotine through your skin at a steady rate.
Nicotine patches come in a range of doses, so you can find the strength that meets your needs. The range of strengths helps the user gradually decrease their nicotine intake over a period of time, working their way down to the lowest dose and ultimately to a nicotine-free state. Patches can be purchased at your local pharmacy and can be obtained freely through some community pharmacies and organisations.
Nicotine gums come in a range of strengths, generally 2mg and 4mg. They work by allowing the nicotine to be absorbed through the mucous membrane of the mouth.
To get the most relief from nicotine gum, you should use the chew and park method - this is where the gum is chewed and then held between the inside of the cheek and gums. This allows the nicotine to be absorbed properly rather than being swallowed in your saliva.
Nicotine gum can be bought over the counter at your local supermarket or pharmacy without a prescription. It's a good option for fast-acting support.
Nicotine lozenges contain a small amount of nicotine that is absorbed as the lozenge dissolves in the mouth. They can be purchased without a prescription at your local pharmacy. Lozenges, like nicotine gum, come in two strengths, 2mg and 4mg.
Nicotine lozenges are preferred by some people over nicotine gum as they are a more discreet option. The lozenge is simply held in the mouth rather than needing to chew it.
Nicotine Nasal Sprays & Inhalers
Nicotine nasal sprays and nicotine inhalers are available through a prescription from your doctor. Nicotine nasal sprays are a very effective option due to how quickly they work. You spray the nasal spray directly into your nose, and nicotine is then delivered to the bloodstream rapidly.
Nicotine inhalers act similarly, however they deliver the nicotine to the mouth and throat. Nicotine inhalers help mimic the hand-to-mouth movement that smokers are used to, which is why inhalers are often preferred.
Vaping vs NRTs
Quitting smoking is one of the hardest habits to break, which is why a lot of people choose to use vaping as a tool to quit rather than going cold turkey. The difference between NRTs and vaping is that vaping lets you continue with your normal day-to-day routine. Choosing to vape means that you can maintain the same physical and social behaviour as when you were smoking cigarettes. For example - you can still take your regular smoke breaks but instead, you would be vaping. Vaping also allows you to maintain the familiar hand-to-mouth action of smoking a cigarette.
In terms of effectiveness, some studies show that combining vaping with NRT use is the best way to quit vaping.2
The results from a clinical trial of 886 randomized participants showed that vaping is a more effective tool at quitting smoking compared to NRT. All participants were given three months of product and four weeks of support from a quit coach, and then they were left to their own devices. A year later, 18% of the vaping group were still non-smokers, while only 10% of the NRT group were still non-smokers.3
Vaping in NZ
There are plenty of ways to quit smoking. If you’re looking to vape to quit smoking, Vuse can help you get started. Our Vuse Vape Starter Kits can help you make the switch from smoking to vaping. Each kit contains an ePod 2 vape pen and a pack of e Liquid pods which is everything you need to begin your smoke free journey.