Drug therapies for fighting smoking
According to health care experts who had a hand in developing the federal government's new anti-smoking guidelines, the policy to be released today will provide specific instructions on how to use several common drug therapies in combination. Drug therapi
The patch. The nicotine patch, which adheres to the skin like a Band-Aid, delivers a continuous trickle of nicotine through the skin, producing a steady blood level, according to the American Heart Association. The smoker substitutes the nicotine from the patch for the nicotine from cigarettes. It's easier to quit the patch because its delivery of nicotine is slow and steady, not sharp and spiked, the Heart Association said.
Nicotine gum. Some health care experts, including the Heart Association, say nicotine gum is best suited for those who aren't heavy smokers. The amount of nicotine in the gum may be insufficient for heavy, dependent smokers.
Nasal spray. Available as a prescription drug, it's less common but is gaining approval.
Inhaler. Also available as a prescription drug. The smoker uses a "puffer" such as those used by someone with asthma to inhale nicotine.
The use of these products, called nicotine replacement therapy, reduces the symptoms of withdrawal. Symptoms include irritability, difficulty concentrating, depression, difficulty sleeping, increased appetite and headaches.
Most smokers who successfully quit smoking have no trouble quitting the replacement nicotine product, although some continue to use the product for "a long time" according to the Heart Association. Still, the use of a substitute "is always preferable to using tobacco products," the Heart Association said in a statement.