The Ins and Outs of Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Most people are aware that smoking is addictive, meaning when someone attempts to quit smoking they experience physical withdrawal sensations that can be deeply unpleasant. However, it is not actually the smoke itself that is addictive, but rather a chemical contained within: namely, nicotine. It is nicotine that smokers are addicted to, and it is nicotine withdrawal that makes quitting smoking so unpleasant.

To try and combat the difficulties of nicotine withdrawal, smokers are now offered a choice of nicotine replacement therapies. These therapies – referred to as NRTs, for ‘nicotine replacement therapy’ – are designed to give smokers a more realistic chance of quitting the habit, by replacing their nicotine ‘fix’ usually found in a cigarette with a less harmful way of ingesting nicotine. This can come in the form of slow-release patches that are applied to the skin, from inhaling nasal sprays or from chewing gum.

The theory is that if a smoker attempts to quit nicotine ‘cold turkey’ – i.e. ceasing to ingest it completely – they are less likely to succeed in their attempts to stop smoking. As the withdrawal from nicotine can be unpleasant, the idea is that by gradually reducing the amount of nicotine someone ingests rather than stopping it altogether allows people to gradually wean themselves off their reliance on this addictive chemical.

It would seem that it is effective. Studies have shown that smokers are up to three times more likely to quit if they use a form of NRT in the weeks after they stop smoking, so give it due consideration.

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