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Smoking Cessation board

Getting medication and using it correctly: Medication and alternative therapies

If you still haven't decided whether or not to use medication to help you quit, now is the time to do so before your quit day. There are many ways you can help yourself quit smoking. Although taking pills and other medications is not a guarantee of success, they do help some people quit smoking. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you choose one of these methods to help you deal with nicotine withdrawal or other difficulties you may have in quitting smoking. (Refer to Day 5's message for more information.)

Nicotine Replacement Therapy
There are currently only two types of "nicotine replacement therapy" approved for sale in Canada. These are nicotine gum and nicotine patches. What they do is replace some of the nicotine that you would usually get by smoking. However, they don't expose you to the other 4,000 harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, so they are a safer way to get the nicotine your body craves. They also provide a lower dose of nicotine than you get by smoking, so they help to wean you off nicotine.

These products help you with the discomfort of the physical withdrawal when you first quit. They are not meant to replace cigarettes permanently, although some people do use them longer than recommended. Talk to your doctor about using nicotine replacements for long periods. Some people do need longer than others to quit. You and your doctor know best what your body needs. However, if you really want to become an ex-smoker, you still have to learn to cope without cigarettes and all of the other things they have come to mean in your life.

Nicotine Gum
Nicotine gum was created to help deal with the physical cravings of nicotine withdrawal. The gum releases nicotine into your mouth when you chew it. Each piece of nicotine gum contains a natural nicotine extract from the tobacco plant. This gum comes in either 2 mg or 4 mg strengths and is available at the drug store without a prescription. Talk to the pharmacist about what strength is best for you, based on how much you smoke. Or, you may wish to talk to your doctor before you go to the pharmacy.

While you are taking the gum, you should not smoke or you will risk getting too much nicotine in your body. This could be dangerous. It is also important to chew the gum according to instructions. It is not the same way you would chew a normal piece of chewing gum.

Nicotine Patch
Like nicotine gum, the nicotine patch was created to help deal with the physical cravings of nicotine withdrawal. It looks like a bandage that you put on your skin. It releases nicotine directly into your blood stream through your skin. That way, it replaces some of the nicotine that you would normally get by smoking.

The patch is available without a prescription from your pharmacy. You may have to ask the pharmacist for it, because it may be kept behind the cash at the pharmacy counter. It comes in various strengths, according to how addicted you are to cigarettes. Talk to your pharmacist about which strength is best for you to start with and when you should taper down to a lower strength. Your doctor can also help you with this decision.

Other Nicotine Replacement Therapy Products
You may see commercials for other nicotine replacement therapy products on television. A nicotine nasal spray and a nicotine inhaler are sold by prescription in the United States, but have not been approved for sale in Canada.

Bupropion hydrochloride (Buproprion(r))
There is a nicotine-free pill that can be used to help reduce the cravings caused by nicotine withdrawal. It is known as Buproprion and it was originally created as an anti-depressant. It has been found to be useful for quitting smoking. This pill can only be prescribed by a medical doctor. Only you and your doctor can decide if Buproprion is right for you.