There are several different types of products on the market today to help smokers quit. Only about 6% of those who try to stop permanently succeed their first time. Using one or more of the products discussed below can help you be in that group.
One of the most popular products is the nicotine patch. It provides a steady, slow release of nicotine that helps reduce the craving to smoke. The nicotine slowly makes its way into the bloodstream through the skin.
Like any stop smoking aid, it has its pros and cons.
It can be attached discretely, on the upper arm, on the chest or anywhere else between the neck and waist. A patch has to be replaced about once every 24 hours, though some brands tout a longer period. It can cause skin irritation, but moving the location so the same spot isn't used more than once every two weeks can minimize the chances.
Nicotine gum is another common method that, like patches, is available without a prescription. But it does require chewing in a careful manner. It should be massaged with the teeth in one spot until a peppery taste is sensed. Then it's held between the cheek and gum until the taste or tingle disappears. The cycle is repeated every half hour until the gum is used up.
Lozenges work in a very similar fashion. Lozenges act quickly and you have some control over the dosage. They come in 2-4 mg dosage tablets and more than one per day can be used, up to about 24 pieces. But, like chewing regular gum, they can fatigue the jaw. Because of the special technique required, they're less effective if not used properly. They can cause nausea, especially if accidentally swallowed.
Inhalers are preferred by some trying to quit smoking. It's easy to control the dosage and the physical sensation is similar to smoking. The hand has something to do and the pull from expanding the lungs mimics smoking. But they're not appropriate for those who have asthma or some other COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). It's also very easy to overdose.
Nasal sprays have similar advantages and drawbacks. They supply nicotine very fast to the bloodstream, but they can cause irritation to the sinus and nasal passages.
All of these products share a similar negative, however. They continue to supply nicotine at a time when the smoker is trying to reduce dependency on that drug. Some may find them to be useful transition aids. But there are non-nicotine methods as well.
Some anti-depressants have been found to reduce the desire to smoke. Whether they treat the underlying anxiety and reduce incentive or act on the desire to smoke more directly is an area of active research. Bupropion (brand name: Zyban) is one example. Long term use of anti-depressants have their own possible side effects, however. Consulting a physician is required.
A newer prescription medication called Varenicline (brand name: Chantix) has found a favorable reception among some. It's not addicting and contains no nicotine. It's believed to act by blocking the nicotine receptors in the brain that release dopamine. That makes smoking ineffective for the 'high' it produces. It comes in pill form and may cause insomnia or nausea. Here again, it's necessary to have a consultation with a physician.
All these products can help aid a smoker to quit. But each requires a commitment to a long-term goal: stopping permanently. Use anything that helps meet that goal.