Does Nicotine Replacement Therapy Help You Stop Smoking?
Unless you’ve been living in denial, you know how harmful cigarettes are to your health. A single cigarette contains thousands of toxins, chemicals, and compounds that can have devastating effects on our bodies.
People who smoke are far more likely to develop serious health conditions like respiratory problems, cancer, and heart disease. However, despite knowing this people continue to smoke. This includes people who want to quit but find it too difficult to do so.
Why Is It So Hard to Quit?
Aside from the many substances in cigarettes that are toxic and hazardous for your health, there’s also a highly addictive compound in them called nicotine. Nicotine is a natural substance found in the tobacco plant that is very addictive in nature, but tobacco companies put in additives that make it even more dangerously addictive.
Nicotine is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical that increases your heart rate and blood pressure. It can also contribute to the hardening of the arteries, making stroke and heart attacks more likely. Depending on how much you smoke, nicotine can stay in your body for six to eight hours after you smoke.
From the first time you smoke a cigarette, nicotine starts impacting how your brain works. Nicotine increases the level of the feel-good hormone known as dopamine. Soon your body and brain will crave the effects of nicotine while also building up a tolerance against it. This means you’ll need more and more nicotine to satisfy your craving and get the pleasurable effect it causes.
If you deprive your brain and body of nicotine, you’ll start going through what’s known as nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine doesn’t just affect the brain which is why the withdrawal symptoms are often intensely physical in nature. The symptoms can be so uncomfortable that you end up smoking against just to make the symptoms stop. Most relapses occur in the first two weeks when the withdrawal is the strongest.
Nicotine withdrawal usually starts within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, with the worst of it peaking between days 3-5. It will take about a month for nicotine withdrawal to lose its hold over you, but it’s not uncommon to find yourself fighting the urge to smoke for months or years after you quit.
Psychological symptoms of nicotine withdrawal:
- Irritability: You’ll be short tempered and easier to anger after you quit smoking. This should subside after a couple of weeks.
- Anxiety: Smoking is often used as a stress reliever so your anxiety might go up when you quit. Because you no longer have your regular outlet, the stress can feel worse than usual.
- Brain fog: There will be a lot going on behind the scenes in your brain’s chemistry so you might have trouble concentrating or remembering things as your brain adjusts.
- Depression: People with a history of mental health problems are more likely to experience depression when they quit smoking. Even if you haven’t had depression in the past, you should seek help from your GP if you start feeling low after you quit.
Physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal:
- Cravings: They last about 15-20 minutes each but will keep coming, especially when exposed to triggers.
- Coughing: Your respiratory system will be trying to repair itself so you’ll be coughing as it works out the build up of toxins and other substances in your lungs.
- Headaches: One of the first withdrawal symptoms to appear and to subside.
- Tiredness: Nicotine is a stimulant so you might not have as much energy as you used to. Ironically, while you’ll be tired, you’ll also be more restless.
- Increased appetite: You might find yourself craving sweets and carbs because of how withdrawal interacts with your brain, appetite, and unconscious habits. Remember, any weight you gain while quitting smoking isn’t as bad for your health as smoking is. You can always lose the weight once you beat cigarettes.
- Trouble sleeping: Even though you’ll have less energy, you’ll find it hard to fall asleep especially in the beginning. You can counter this with good sleep hygiene and/or short-term use of a sleep aid.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
In recent years the popularity of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation tools has skyrocketed. Vaping can be a valuable aid in quitting smoking, but in many cases people who turn to vapes end up just replacing cigarettes with e-cigarettes. This is because e-cigarettes can deliver even stronger hits of nicotine than cigarettes do, making you even more addicted to nicotine than you were before.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is a way of giving you the nicotine your body is craving so that you won’t suffer intense withdrawal symptoms. This sets you up with the best chances of success when trying to quit smoking cold turkey or on your own.
NRT is thought to nearly double a person’s chance of kicking their cigarette habit once and for all, although it might take a few tries before you do. You can find NRT in several forms, including gum, patches, sprays, inhalers, and lozenges. Many of these types of NRT can be bought over the counter in pharmacies, grocery stores, and off-licenses.
Other stop smoking treatments include counselling, support groups, and prescription medications like Champix Tablets. Champix (varenicline) is a 12-week treatment that helps people quit smoking by blocking nicotine receptors and reducing the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. It also lessens the ‘good feelings’ your brain and body experience when it gets nicotine.
You shouldn’t use NRT if you are still smoking or if you use other forms of tobacco like chewing tobacco. It also may not be effective for more casual smokers who want to quit smoking. Always speak to a pharmacist or healthcare provider before starting nicotine replacement therapy or other quit-smoking products to ensure it’s the right choice for you.
If you want to stop smoking, Pharmacy Planet has stop smoking treatments that can help you go smoke free. Take a look at our online pharmacy or contact us to discuss how Champix Tablets and nicotine replacement therapy can help you.