Top 5 Effective Quit-Smoking Tools You Need to Know
Sometimes, abruptly quitting the habit of smoking could send you into a whirlwind of nicotine withdrawal symptoms many of us dread.
The solution? Compromise.
We already know that nicotine is all we need for that energizing effect. Several nicotine delivery methods have been tried and tested to work just as effectively as traditional cigarettes. And the good news is that for many of us, these tools work just fine. Here are the top five must-try options for you.
How do Quit Smoking Medicines Work?
When you first stop smoking, you may feel uncomfortable and will have the urge to smoke. This is due to withdrawal. Withdrawal is your body getting used to not having nicotine, the chemical in cigarettes that makes you want to keep smoking. Quit smoking medications help reduce the nasty feelings of withdrawal and cigarette cravings.
1. Nicotine Patch
Nicotine patches offer a convenient way to deliver the drug into your system through the skin. You won’t need that much nicotine, so little amount of the substance absorbed is enough to achieve the effects of smoking. Because there isn’t that much amount of the drug going into the body, patches do not need a prescription. There are, however, different dosages available to customize your experience. Using the patch is so easy that the package instructions are detailed and simple enough.
For the light or moderate smoker, the 16-hour nicotine patch is enough for you to achieve the effects of smoking. Side effects might include headache, increased heartbeat, skin irritation and disrupted sleeping pattern. Because the patch doesn’t work well at night, those having withdrawal symptoms in the morning might benefit less from nicotine patches.
So, if you wish a steady dose of nicotine, the 24-hour patch might just be the right one for you. But the most obvious drawback of the 24-hour patch is difficulty sleeping on a regular schedule. Skin irritation might also be evident.
To help you effectively avoid the withdrawal effects of quitting smoking, start with the full dosage of 15-22 milligrams per day for four weeks. Then, for the next four weeks, reduce the strength to just 5-14 milligrams. The FDA approves continuous use of nicotine patches for up to three to five months.
Nicotine patches should be placed on areas of the skin where there is minimal hair growth to maximize absorption. The patch works more effectively when placed above the wrist, below the neck or on the chest.
2. Nicotine gum
While patches offer easy and convenient way to experience the energizing effects of nicotine, you might just miss that part when your mouth gets busy with puffing smoke. Nicotine gums allow you to mimic the experience closely. Nicotine gums come in 4-milligram or 2-milligram doses. If you just emerged from heavy smoking (18 or more cigarettes per day), choose the 4-mg gum to minimize the withdrawal effects.
To use the gum, start chewing it and immediately rest it between your gums and cheek the moment you taste strong flavors. This maximizes the amount of nicotine delivered through the mucus membranes in your cheeks and gums. When the taste fades, chew the gum again and do the same process when you detect a strong taste.
One piece of nicotine gum can last for an hour. You can chew about 10-15 gums per day. You can also choose sugar-free options. They come in different sizes and flavors too. Two to three months of using the gum should help you gently reduce the dosage without experiencing the painful withdrawal symptoms.
3. Nasal spray
For a much quicker way to deliver nicotine into your system, the nasal spray gets the job done right away. In fact, this method of ingesting nicotine is so effective that doctor’s prescription is required. Smokers can get continuously addicted to nicotine because of the fast action of the nasal spray. Maintaining the dosage for longer periods will not help you stay away from nicotine for good.
The FDA recommends using the nasal spray for up to three months but not longer than six months. So you should have reduced your dosage as you progress into your three-month program. Nasal sprays can result in side effects that include runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing and nasal or throat irritation. If you have nasal polyps, sinus conditions or even asthma, consult with your doctor first before using a nasal spray.
Nasal sprays must be handled and stored responsibly. Unintended use of the contraption by pets or children could be harmful as nicotine can easily be absorbed through the skin or mucous membranes.
4. Nicotine lozenges
If chewing gums don’t just go well for you, nicotine lozenges can be a good substitute. Nicotine lozenges also come in two doses of 2 milligrams and 4 milligrams. If you just got off from habitual heavy smoking, start with the largest dose of 4mg. Lozenges are also designed for a 3-month program. Use one lozenge every one to two hours, limiting intake to only five per six hours or no more than 20 per day. As the course progresses, limit the dosage to one lozenge every two to four hours. The last stage should be just one lozenge every four to eight hours.
Make sure you stop smoking before starting using lozenges. For maximized absorption through the mouth, do not eat or drink within 15 minutes before taking the lozenge. Let it melt gently inside the mouth without breaking it with your teeth, as it is supposed to be absorbed though the mouth’s mucus membranes.
Possible side effects of using nicotine lozenges are nausea, coughing, heartburn, headache, abdominal gas and disrupted sleeping pattern.
5. Vaporizers and E-Cigarettes
If there's one tool that effectively replaces cigarettes both in terms of nicotine delivery and the look and feel of real smoking (without the harmful smoke), the vaporizer or e-cigarette is one clear winner.
E-cigarettes work by using a heating element to vaporize liquids or thicker concentrates that may or may not contain nicotine. The heating element may reach very high temperatures, but the absence of dry plant materials (otherwise found in tobacco cigarettes) means the absence of combustion. This smokeless approach means the user is not exposed to the harmful toxins found in smoke.
So, what’s the difference between vaporizers and e-cigarettes?
In general, e-cigarettes are categorized as vaporizers because of their action of transforming liquid to vapors for inhalation. They’re technically the same in terms of parts and functionality. But e-cigarettes are specifically associated with e-juices and other loose liquids that contain nicotine. These days, however, you can enjoy e-juices that do not contain nicotine at all, just artificial flavorings for that fancy vaping experience.
On the other hand, vaporizers can support a wide range of materials — from e-liquids to oils to waxes and even dry herbs. They come in many shapes and sizes too, the bigger ones requiring constant power supply from a power outlet to support advanced features such as bigger heating elements, internal fans, temperature controls and multi-user functionality.
Vaporizers can effectively deliver nicotine into the respiratory system, particularly the lungs. Nasal sprays act similarly, but the nicotine sprayed into the nose gets absorbed into the mucus membranes located near the nasal opening. No prescription is required when using e-cigarettes, but proper caution must be observed when storing the e-juice — out of your children’s reach — because a small container of the liquid still contains a significant amount of nicotine that may be harmful when swallowed or applied on the skin.
What You Need to Know About Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine may be addicting when used for a prolonged period. There are, however, no studies that suggest other diseases associated with the drug. Because nicotine is a stimulant, increased heartbeat and disrupted sleeping patterns are often the side effects of taking the substance.
When using Nicotine Replacement Therapy, take note that most substitutes such as patches, gums and lozenges contain lower amount of nicotine than cigarettes. So, there is no need for a Doctor's prescription when taking these alternatives, except for nasal sprays.
Meanwhile, vaporizers and cigarettes do not require a prescription. That gives you the advantage of using e-juices for as long as you want. Just make sure to handle and store the liquids and concentrates properly, out of reach of your pets or children.
All of the options above are designed to help you battle the undesirable withdrawal symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. By using NRT, you slowly adjust to the diminishing amount of nicotine in your body without going cold turkey.
If you are in doubt or are experiencing some unexpected side effects of using any of the above-mentioned methods, it is best to consult your doctor.
When one of the tips above does not work well for you, you can always try to move to the next methods and see which among the NRT tools fit well with your preference and lifestyle. If you want hassle-free NRT, try the nicotine patch. You can work, play and do whatever you want outdoors while still letting the patch deliver nicotine into your bloodstream through the skin.
But if you still want to experience the feel the essence of actually getting your mouth busy with taking nice draws, vaporizers are a smart choice. And when you’re done with the smallest dosage of nicotine, you can try other flavors and keep the habit of vaping without compromising your health.
Which quit-smoking tool do you think would work best for you? Share your thoughts with us.