Starting Medication After You Quit

Quitting smoking, vaping, and/or dipping smokeless tobacco is hard. Your body and brain want nicotine. Even quitting for a few hours can be an uphill climb. It’s not easy staying quit for one day, two days, or even three days.

After three days, most of the nicotine is out of your body. Even so, you may not feel great. You might feel anxious and irritable. You might feel tightness in your chest. You might even find it harder to focus your thoughts.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), such as patches, gum, or lozenges, can make life more comfortable. It can give you space to practice managing cravings and withdrawal. Let’s dig in on this idea.

Why is Quitting So Hard?

Quitting tobacco is hard because smoking, vaping, dipping or chewing has been with you through lots of different situations. It's how you’ve learned to cope with stress or difficult moments. It's how you start your day, deal with boredom, and socialize with other people. If you were a social smoker, what do you do now when your friends smoke? If you smoked in your car, what do you do now when you drive to work?

Nicotine increases the number of nicotinic receptors in the brain and makes you want to smoke when receptors are empty.

What’s Happening in My Brain After I Quit?

Stick with quitting, even if it’s tough. Keep in mind that a triggering moment can start up that addicted part of your brain. That seemingly innocent voice of the addiction might sound familiar: I’ll just have one. One can’t hurt, right?

Yes, one can hurt. That seemingly friendly voice that sounds like you is the addiction talking. It’s trying to lure you back. It works against your efforts to build a foundation of strong coping skills. Just one puff, drag or dip will provide your brain with a big hit of dopamine. It’s the feel-good neurotransmitter.

Believe it or not, once you are addicted to nicotine, your triggers often release a bigger hit of dopamine than the tobacco itself. When you first started to use tobacco, the dopamine hit came when nicotine reached your brain. However, just like all addictions, your cues and triggers are now all it takes for a big dopamine release in your brain. It can entice you. Even before you smoke, vape, or chew, the anticipation and imagined satisfaction are hard to resist.

At some point, the actual tobacco use is no longer as satisfying as the excitement leading up to it.

If I have 'just one' I will be back to where I started. Where I started was wishing I was where I am today.....FREE!!


Why Nicotine Replacement Makes Life More Comfortable

Nicotine replacement medications, like nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges, can help. These safe forms of nicotine provide your brain with slow-acting nicotine to help calm cravings. This can help you feel calm. It can give you space to learn new coping strategies and practice them.

These medications are proven to work. They don’t contain any of the thousands of harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke, e-cigarettes, or chewing tobacco. Nicotine is not what damages arteries, lungs, and hearts. It’s the other chemicals in tobacco that harm your body.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). A great deal of research has found that people using these products are more likely to be successful in stopping than people who don’t use these products.

Dr. HaysDr. Hays