Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States. However, smoking cessation can be difficult. That said, medications are available to help reduce cravings and make it easier for someone to quit.
Smoking is a harmful habit that can result in severe health complications. When a person decides to quit smoking, it involves breaking the cycle of nicotine addiction. Many strategies to help with smoking cessation involve rewiring the brain to stop craving nicotine.
Medications can help achieve this by easing nicotine cravings, decreasing withdrawal symptoms, and keeping a person from using tobacco again.
In this article, we will discuss the different medications available to help with smoking cessation.
Different medications that can help with smoking cessation
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
Nicotine is the main addictive substance in tobacco. As such, when a person quits smoking, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. This is because the body must become familiar with no longer having nicotine.
Therefore, NRT aims to
NRT is available in a variety of forms, which can include:
- nasal sprays
Bupropion does not contain nicotine, so it works differently than NRT. It can help balance chemicals in the brain, which assists in reducing the withdrawal symptoms a person may experience. It alters the brain’s response to nicotine, which helps make smoking less pleasurable and reduces cravings.
Under the care of a healthcare professional, a person can use bupropion in combination with NRT.
As such, this can help reduce nicotine cravings and help with withdrawal symptoms, such as the urge to smoke, feeling depressed or irritable, and difficulty sleeping.
Other drugs that may show some promise in helping people to quit smoking
- nortriptyline, an older antidepressant drug
- clonidine, which can help to reduce blood pressure
- cytisine, a plant-based drug
- naltrexone, which can help those with alcohol and opioid abuse disorders
To help quit smoking, a person may want to develop a quit plan. This involves setting goals and being mindful of the reasons they are deciding to quit. Additionally, individuals may want to stay busy, such as through exercise or by keeping their hands occupied with a pen or toothpick. They could also consider avoiding potential triggers by throwing cigarettes away and changing their routines.
Other tips may include:
- focusing on motivators
- building confidence by setting small goals
- managing stress
- enlisting the help of friends and family
Quitting smoking can be difficult
As nicotine stimulates the brain, it changes how the brain works and makes it feel like nicotine is necessary just to feel okay. When someone stops smoking and stops receiving nicotine, the brain becomes irritable. These feelings are known as withdrawal symptoms.
Quitting smoking is an important action people can take to improve their health. According to the
- reducing the risk of premature death and increasing life expectancy
- reducing the risk of many health complications, such as cancer, lung conditions, and heart problems
- improving health and quality of life
- reducing the financial burden that smoking can place on individuals, healthcare systems, and society
Learn more about what happens after smoking cessation.
Quitting smoking can provide various health benefits. However, it can be very difficult to quit because nicotine is an addictive substance — people may experience withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to do so. However, medications are available to help with smoking cessation, including nicotine replacement therapy and prescription drugs such as bupropion and varenicline.