Stage Three: Preparing to Be Tobacco-Free

Nicotine Alternatives

Quitting won't be easy because cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and snuff contain nicotine — a highly addictive substance. Fortunately, there are more products available than ever before to help you succeed. Most aids work by reducing withdrawal symptoms (insomnia, anger, anxiety, depression, frustration, or lack of concentration) to help relieve your craving.

In most cases, both prescription and over-the-counter aids provide an alternative source of nicotine that lessens gradually. These include:

  • Nicotine nasal spray (prescription only)
    • Can cause watery eyes and nose
    • Used at the beginning of an urge to smoke
    • Absorbed quickly to suppress cravings faster.
  • Nicotine patch (over the counter or prescription)
    • New patch worn daily
    • Releases steady dose of nicotine absorbed by the skin
    • May cause minor skin irritation.
  • Nicotine gum (over the counter)
    • Used whenever you have the craving
    • Absorbed by the lining of your cheek
    • 10-12 pieces a day initially.
  • Zyban (non-nicotine medication; prescription only)
    • Used 1 week before quit date
    • Believed to increase dopamine, a chemical that gives a feeling of pleasure similar to that produced by nicotine.

None of these products has been proven more effective than the others in helping people quit. However, studies show that all double your chances of success.

Your doctor is the best resource for helping you decide which may work for you.