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Nicotine Replacement Therapy: Overview, Use, and Types

Nicotine is the main ingredient in cigarette and other tobacco items that causes addiction.


Although the components apart from nicotine in tobacco products are the ones that lead to mortality and severe medical conditions. 


However, it is the addictive nature or the pharmacological effects of nicotine that make it challenging for people to quit tobacco products.


When people consume tobacco, many parts of their bodies get addicted to nicotine used in tobacco items. 


So when they quit smoking or other tobacco items, they show both physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms. While physical symptoms may include increased appetite, fatigue, dizziness, nicotine cravings, etc. Emotional symptoms include anxiety, depression, etc. 


Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) was introduced to help reduce the motivation to consume tobacco and some of the physiological withdrawal symptoms. It achieves this by delivering a controlled amount of nicotine and not other chemicals to tobacco users through various methods.


The emotional aspect of quitting tobacco, however, is the challenging part and is typically dealt with via therapies and support programs. 


So, let’s have a look at how NRT works and what are the various methods or types of NRT. 

How Nicotine Replacement Therapy Works?

There is sufficient evidence that suggests that NRT helps to quit smoking. In fact, many clinical recommendations suggest NRT as the first choice for quitting smoking. 


Nicotine given through NRT plays its part by activating the nicotinic receptors in the brain which release dopamine. This results in a reduction in the withdrawal symptoms in routine smokers who try to quit smoking. 


NRT also helps in coping with quitting by making tobacco products less enriching. However, it does not reduce the withdrawal symptoms fully. This is because none of the NRT methods of delivering nicotine produce as high amounts of nicotine as achieved by inhaling cigarette smoke. 


Where it takes just a few seconds for the nicotine from the cigarette smoke to reach the brain. It takes some amount of minutes and even hours in case of nicotine patches to deliver nicotine to the brain. 

Types of NRT and Which One is Best for You

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following five types of NRT.

1. Nicotine Patch

Nicotine patches, also called transdermal patches, deliver measured doses of nicotine via the skin. These must be applied on clean, dry skin with less hair and anywhere between the neck and above the waist. 


Different strength patches are used depending on the body size and the number of cigarettes smoked by individuals. For instance, a full-strength patch delivering 5-22 mg of nicotine daily may be used for the first few weeks. 


Likewise, a weaker-strength patch, producing 5-14 mg of nicotine daily may be used for the remaining weeks. 


As per FDA, the transdermal patches should be typically used for a period of three to five months. These may be purchased with or without prescription

2. Gum

Nicotine Gumas also called Nicotine Polaclirex helps in delivering nicotine transmucosally or through the mucous membrane of the mouth. These can be bought over the counter and work faster than nicotine patches. 


Further, these come in 2-4mg strengths and are not consumed like the typical confectionery gums. You need to chew the gum slowly until you can experience its flavor. Then, you need to keep it aside in your mouth for some time before you start chewing again. Repeat this over a period of 30 minutes to produce nicotine. 


Now, as you chew, make sure you aren’t consuming food or acidic beverages. This is because studies show that both food and drinks have an impact on the way nicotine is absorbed. 


It is usually suggested to have nicotine gums for a period of 6 to 12 weeks for effective results. 

3. Inhalers

Nicotine inhalers are not like your typical inhalers that puff the medicine directly into your lungs. These inhalers are thin plastic tubes that have a cartridge that puff the majority of the nicotine vapour to the mouth and throat to be absorbed directly into the blood. 

A single puff on the inhaler delivers pure nicotine vapor into the mouth. As per, one must use 4 - 20 cartridges in a day with slowing it eventually over a period of six months. 


Nicotine inhalers are one of the expensive forms of NRT available in the market and are only available through prescription. 

4. Nasal Spray

Nicotine nasal sprays deliver nicotine to your nostrils where it gets directly absorbed into the bloodstream. This way, the nicotine is delivered very quickly that further helps in reducing the withdrawal symptoms. 


You must consult your doctor for the nicotine dosage to be delivered via nasal sprays. Typically, smokers are suggested to have 1 to 2 doses every hour, where 1 dose is equal to one spray in each nostril. 


Nasal sprays also can be availed only through prescription. 

5. Lozenges

Lozenges also called sublingual tablets are forms of NRT that are held under the tongue for nicotine from the tablet to be absorbed sublingually. 


These are not required to be chewed and are available in strengths of 2 mg and 4 mg. It is suggested to have 1 lozenge every 1 to 2 hours for a period of six weeks. 


Further, you don’t need a prescription to buy lozenges.

Which Form of NRT is Best? 


No one NRT form is better than the other. When selecting a form of NRT, consider the one that is the best fit with your living habits and your smoking behavior. 


Also Read: The Drive Reduction Theory is the behavioral approach of motivation and deals with drives and incentives

Digital marketing specialist at ABCR News.
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