Frequently Asked Questions About Using Medication to Help Quit
You might know that there are medications to make your quit easier. But did you know that you can use quitting medications before and even months after your quit date? Decades of research have shown that medication can double your chances of staying quit.
Usually, people can start medication two weeks before their quit date. You can (and should) also use medication for some time after you quit. People often worry about ‘getting off’ quitting medications quickly. But, it can take months for nicotine addiction to fully resolve. Cravings or urges can happen for quite some time.
Taking quitting medications as prescribed and for the full course of treatment is the best choice. Medication allows you time to create new habits and adjust to a tobacco-free life. It can also make nicotine withdrawal symptoms less intense.
Discuss medication options with your healthcare provider before starting.
Frequently Asked Questions About Taking Medication To Help Quit
|Show Answer / Hide AnswerWhat medications can I use to help me quit?|
There are seven medications approved in the U.S. for helping people quit. Five of these are nicotine replacement therapies (NRT). They are the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, nicotine lozenge, Nicotrol inhaler, and nicotine nasal spray.
Two are non-nicotine medications. They are bupropion (Zyban®) and varenicline (Chantix®™).
Medications can be used alone or in combination.
|Show Answer / Hide AnswerIsn't NRT just another form of addiction?|
No. Cigarettes and e-cigarettes deliver high doses of nicotine very quickly. The patch, gum and lozenge deliver nicotine more slowly, which reduces the risk of addiction.
NRT is also a safe and clean way of weaning off nicotine.
|Show Answer / Hide AnswerIs it safe to use NRT long-term?|
Yes. All the approved medications are proven to be safe and effective in helping people quit. NRT does not contain any of the harmful ingredients of e-cigarettes, burned tobacco products (like cigarettes or cigars), or dip/chewing tobacco.
Studies have found that using NRT long-term does not cause any major health problems. But, using tobacco long-term can cause many major health problems. This makes NRT much safer than any tobacco product, even if you do use it for a long time.
|Show Answer / Hide AnswerWill the nicotine in NRT cause cancer?|
No. Nicotine does not cause cancer. Many of the other chemicals found in cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and dip/chewing tobacco cause cancer.
|Show Answer / Hide AnswerWhy should I continue to use nicotine treatment medication after I quit? How long should I use them?|
Sometimes people feel confident enough to stop medication after just a few days or weeks of being quit. This is a common trigger for relapse.
All nicotine treatment medications are most effective when you use them for the full recommended length of time. This is usually 12 weeks. It gives you time to build new habits, deal with triggers, and let urges become less frequent.
Varenicline, bupropion, and nicotine replacement are most effective if you use them for at least 3 months. They are even more effective if you use them for a longer time.
Check the package insert or talk to your health care provider to confirm how you should use medication.
|Show Answer / Hide AnswerIf I slip, can I keep using my medication?|
Yes. If you are using medication past your quit date and you have a slip, you should keep taking your medication and re-commit to quitting.
After a slip, it is helpful to talk with a supportive person or your healthcare provider to get back on track. You can discuss motivations and strategies for continuing your quit.
|Show Answer / Hide AnswerWill NRT make me gain weight?|
No. NRT will not make you gain weight. The nicotine in NRT may help control appetite. If you are worried about gaining weight, you are not alone. But, you can overcome this worry.
|Show Answer / Hide AnswerWill NRT make my teeth, fingernails, and skin yellow?|
No. Nicotine does not cause your teeth, fingernails, and skin to become yellow. The tar in cigarettes is what does.