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Over-the-Counter Drugs to Help Stop Smoking


By Staff Writer

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Drugs to Help Stop SmokingOver-the-counter nicotine patches (brand names Nicoderm and Habitrol) and nicotine gum (brand name Nicorette) are effective aids for quitting smoking. There’s now a nicotine lozenges by Nicorette as well. These products prevent or relieve symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, including anxiety, irritability, trouble concentrating, and nicotine craving. Be sure not to smoke when using these products. Doing so can cause side effects, such as increased blood pressure, nervousness, and rapid heartbeat. Studies show that when people received counseling or group therapy, 22% of those who used nicotine patches quit smoking. Similarly, 18% of people quit smoking with nicotine gum. Nicotine products don't work as well without counseling or group therapy. Studies show that either combining a nicotine patch with a prescription nicotine nasal spray (Nicotrol NS) or with another prescription medicine called bupropion (brand name Zyban) can increase your chance of quitting successfully. You typically need to wear nicotine patches for at least six to ten weeks after you stop smoking. Some people may use the patch for up to 20 weeks. Nicotine gum is usually used for at least two to three months, but no longer than 12 months. You should stop using the lozenge after 12 weeks unless your doctor feels you need to use them for a longer period of time.

Prescription Drugs



Your choice of stop-smoking aids may be based on a variety of factors, including possible interactions with other medications, what products are covered by your health insurance, and what products have worked for you in the past. For help choosing the product that's right for you, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or tobacco cessation counselor.

 

Sources: The AHCPR Smoking Cessation Clinical Practice Guideline, Journal of the American Medical Association 275 (1996).Blondal T. “Nicotine Nasal Spray with Nicotine Patch for Smoking Cessation: Randomised Trial with 6Year Follow Up,” British Medical Journal 318 (1999). Jorenby DE. “A Controlled Trial of Sustained-Release Bupropion, a Nicotine Patch, or Both for Smoking Cessation,” The New England Journal of Medicine 340 (1999).Kaye L. "Pharmacologic and Behavioral Approaches to Smoking Cessation," Hospital Medicine 34(1998).Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs. American Pharmaceutical Association, 2000.Drug Facts and Comparisons. Facts & Comparisons, 2007.This answer prepared 8/9/2001.This information updated 1/3/2007.

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