The first few weeks without smoking can be the hardest. This is when your body is fighting the physical addiction. This quickly passes, but you might find Nicotine Replacement Therapies like patches or gum or other medication helpful to get through the early stages. We will help you find the right medication for you - and if one type doesn't work, you can try another - or even a combination.
Everybody's different, and one medication might work better for you than another. If you would like to try any of the products described here, your Stop4Life Advisor will tell you whether it could be suitable for you.
Stop smoking medicines are free to people who are exempt from prescription charges.
Nicotine Replacement therapy (NRT)
NRT works by substituting the nicotine you once absorbed through your lungs via cigarettes, with nicotine delivered by safer methods.
The idea is that you gradually reduce the dosage while enjoying a reduction in the craving and withdrawal feelings usually associated with giving up.
There are several different ways of replacing the nicotine, so you can opt for the one that works best for you.
You shouldn't take any form of NRT for longer than six months.
The original nicotine replacement therapy! The patch is applied to a dry, hair free area of your body, and left there for either 16 or 24 hours depending on the type of patch you use. As well as this, the patches come in different strengths, and your advisor will work out with you which would be the best one. Some people occasionally get an itchy area of skin around the patch, but this usually only lasts for a few days.
The nicotine is absorbed through the mouth. The gum comes in 2 different strengths - 2mg and 4mg - and in original, mint, fruit and liquorice flavours. You chew it until the flavour is released and then rest it against your cheek and gum to allow the nicotine to be absorbed. When the taste fades, you chew and rest it again for up to 30 minutes.
Here, you don't actually inhale the nicotine. Whenever you would normally have lit up a cigarette, you suck gently on the inhalator and the nicotine, which is contained in capsules, is absorbed by the lining of your mouth. Some people respond well to this method because it mimics the hand to mouth action of smoking a cigarette.
Every time you would have had lit up a cigarette, you put a nicotine tablet under your tongue where it slowly dissolves. It won't work if you swallow, suck or chew it.
For the first three months, you'll probably take one or two tablets in an hour. For most people, 8-12 microtabs a day are enough, although heavy smokers may need to take more in order to control their cravings. You shouldn't take more than 40 microtabs in one day.
After three months, start cutting down. Once you're only taking one or two microtabs a day, you should be ready to stop using the nicotine replacement therapy and give up altogether.
Again, you absorb the nicotine through the mouth. The lozenges come in three strengths - 1mg, 2mg and 4mg - and in mint or original flavour. You suck it to release the flavour then rest it against your cheek to help you to absorb the nicotine. You alternate sucking and resting for up to 30 minutes.
Nicotine Nasal Spray
Here, the nicotine is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream through your nasal passages. You squirt one spray into each nostril whenever you feel the craving for a cigarette. Some people find it makes their nose run and their eyes water at first, so don't use it if you're driving or operating machinery until you know how it affects you.
These are similar to the 4mg lozenges and have a cool minty taste. Mini's dissolve in the mouth in 10 minutes and you take one when you have the urge to smoke, every 1-2 hours. Up to 12 mini's can be used each day for up to 6 weeks and then you would gradually cut down on them.
Champix works in two ways. First, it blocks the parts of the brain that are stimulated by nicotine, so that cigarettes literally stop working.
Second, it causes you to produce small amounts of a chemical called dopamine, which helps to reduce your craving and your nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
Champix is only available on prescription from your doctor, who along with your Stop Smoking Advisor will be able to tell you whether it's the right solution for you.
For the first week or so, you will continue to smoke. You will agree a 'quit date' in your second week. Then, for a period of 12 weeks, you'll follow this dosage plan:
- Day 1-3: One 0.5mg tablet once a day
- Day 4-7: One 0.5mg tablet twice a day
- Day 8 onwards: One 1.0mg tablet twice a day
You can take Champix with food and with a full glass of water.
Don't take more than one tablet at a time, nor more than two tablets a day with at least eight hours between doses.
Possible side effects
As with most medication, you may find that Champix causes one or more of a number of side effects. You might find it hard to sleep, have unusual dreams, suffer from nausea or develop headaches.
Extra care should be taken during the first few days of treatment when driving or operating machinery. If you're worried about these or any other symptoms, talk to your Specialist Advisor.
Zyban was the first medicine without nicotine in it to be used by people wishing to quit smoking. Your GP will decide whether there are any medical reasons why you shouldn't take it.
You'll continue to smoke for the first week to ten days, and you'll set a 'quit date' during the second week.
You'll take Zyban for seven or eight weeks, in the following dosages:
- DAY 1-6: One 150mg tablet once a day
- DAY 7 onwards: One 150mg tablet twice a day
Unless your GP tells you otherwise, you should leave a gap of at least eight hours between doses.
Don't take more than one tablet at a time, and no more than two in a day.
You can take Zyban with or without food, and it can be used with some Nicotine Replacement Therapy.
Possible side effects
You might find you experience a dry mouth, difficulty sleeping, headaches or upset stomach. If you're worried about these or any other symptoms, talk to your Specialist Advisor.