Did you know that within just 12 to 24 hours after quitting smoking the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal and your risk of heart attack is significantly reduced? And those positive changes continue for years.
But quitting smoking can be hard. In fact, it may take several attempts to kick the habit. One of the main reasons smokers keep smoking is nicotine – a chemical found in cigarettes that makes you addicted to smoking. When your body doesn’t get nicotine, you may feel uncomfortable and crave cigarettes – this is called withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include irritability, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and changes in appetite.
As addictive as nicotine is, there are also 7,000 chemicals that are created when a cigarette is burned – with many being toxic and at least 69 of these chemicals known to cause cancer. This is one of the main reasons why smoking is so bad for your health, but there are resources available to help you quit.
Start by building a plan to quit smoking, including listing your reasons for quitting, understanding your triggers, and learning how to deal with them. One tool to help people on the path to quitting is smoking cessation products, including over-the-counter (OTC) nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs). These therapies are medicines that are used to help smokers successfully kick this highly addictive and potentially life-threatening habit.
Smoking Cessation Treatments
Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) are used to slowly wean a smoker off cigarettes. They work by delivering low levels of therapeutic nicotine without the harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke. This gradual process helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms, including nicotine cravings, and increases a person’s chances of quitting successfully.
Use of NRTs increases the rate of quitting by as much as 50-70 percent. Many products are available to consumers in lozenge, gum, and skin patch forms. You and your healthcare professional can work together to determine which NRT is right for you.
OTC active ingredients in smoking cessation products:
Safe Use Tips
- Always read the Drug Facts label carefully. The label tells you everything you need to know about the medicine, including the ingredients, what you are supposed to use it for, how much you should take, and when you should not take the product.
- Smoking cessation products are most successful when a smoker truly wants to quit.
- Be sure to read the enclosed user’s guide thoroughly before using a smoking cessation product.
- If you are using a patch, make certain you remove it before undergoing a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure in order to avoid possible burns.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, do not use a smoking cessation product unless you are under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
- Do not use a smoking cessation product in combination with another smoking cessation product or if you continue to smoke, chew tobacco, or use snuff.
- Speak with a healthcare provider or pharmacist before using a smoking cessation product if you are on a prescription drug for depression or asthma.
- Stop use and ask a healthcare provider if you get symptoms of nicotine overdose such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, or rapid heartbeat.
- Make certain that you follow the appropriate product instructions and related quitting schedule that matches the amount of cigarettes you smoke per day.
- Be sure to complete the entire quit smoking program as recommended on the product labeling, but do not extend the program. If you still feel the need to use a smoking cessation product, talk to your healthcare provider.
- Keep smoking cessation products and all medicines out of the sight and reach of children.
- OTC Smoking cessation products are not labeled for use in children under the age of 18. If you are the parent or caregiver of a child under the age of 18, talk to a healthcare provider before giving a smoking cessation to your child.
- Take special care to dispose of smoking cessation products properly. Used products may have enough nicotine to poison children.
- If a child accidentally swallows a discarded smoking cessation product, immediately contact a healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.
Homeopathic products marketed to help with common side effects that occur during nicotine withdrawal are derived from plants, minerals, and animal substances that are known for their pharmacological or biological actions. For safety, read all instructions and warnings on the product label before taking any homeopathic product and follow all dosing instructions.
OTC homeopathic medicines for symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal include:
- Argentum nitricum
- Cocculus indicus
- Gelsemium sempervirens
- Ignatia amara