Nicotine replacement therapy

Specialty of GP (general practioner)

What is nicotine replacement therapy?

Nicotine replacement therapy is a treatment to help a person quit smoking. It is a beneficial therapy for people who smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day.

Why is it done?

Nicotine is an addictive substance found in tobacco. A regular intake (i.e. smoking) causes a physical dependence on nicotine, which can lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when the individual tries to quit, such as irritability, impatience, anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating, among others.

The objective of nicotine replacement therapy is that the patient uses a low dose of nicotine from a different source to avoid the other more harmful substances found in tobacco.

Signs of nicotine dependence

Smokers who display the following characteristics are likely significantly dependent on nicotine:

  • Smoking more than a pack a day
  • Waking up at night to smoke
  • Smoking first thing in the morning
  • Smoking while ill
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal after going a time without smoking

What does nicotine replacement therapy consist of?

The therapy consists of substituting tobacco with other products with low doses of nicotine, thus avoiding withdrawal syndrome without consuming the dangerous substances contained in the tobacco. The main products with nicotine used in this therapy are nicotine patches, chewing gum, inhalers, nasal sprays, and lozenges.

It is important that the patient is determined to stop smoking and predisposed to do their part to quit.

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