What Is Nicotine Replacement Therapy?

The harmful mental and physical impacts of smoking tobacco have long been known to the public. As we’ve previously discussed, even the Sexiest Man Alive in 1991, Patrick Swayze couldn’t escape pancreatic cancer, especially since it was aggravated by his daily smoking. At times, Swayze even claimed to have smoked 40 cigarettes a day during filming.

The average smoker smokes ​​around 20 to 25 cigarettes per day according to OWID. This is the crux of the global tobacco epidemic today, and interventions must be made. This is where nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) comes into play.

Examples of NRT

NRT is meant to decrease your reliance on tobacco by replacing it with moderated dosages of nicotine in other forms. One of the most well-known is nicotine gum.

Similar to regular gum, this is taken orally. As you bite slowly, tingling in the mouth is a sign that nicotine is being released. The gum must be placed in the cheeks for efficient nicotine absorption. Established nicotine gum brands like Nicorette are widely available in drugstores under various flavors, such as Cinnamon Surge or Fruit Chill.

Flavored products help adults of different ages make the switch. Since their emergence in the market in 2015, popular NRT option nicotine pouches have come in several flavors from classic mint to even dragonfruit. These can be found online and in convenience stores. Online platform Prilla stocks the super popular Rogue nicotine pouches alongside other famous brands such as On! and VELO, and ships to most states.

Like nicotine gum, these pouches are taken orally. They simply have to be tucked between the gum and top lip, and the nicotine will slowly be absorbed through the oral mucosa.

Topical options are available as well. The nicotine patch, made famous under brands like NicoDerm, releases nicotine into the bloodstream through skin absorption. These tend to be water and sweat-proof as well, making them a suitable choice for active users.

Advantages to NRT

The difficult part of minimizing one’s cigarette consumption is nicotine withdrawal. By moderating your intake, NRT eases your body’s dependence on the addictive chemical — stimulating the brain receptors targeted by nicotine to decrease chances of relapse — while minimizing your body’s intake of harmful toxins present in smoking tobacco. Examples of these toxins include tar or acetone.

NRT will jumpstart your body’s recovery while also encouraging you to quit the cigarette for good. NIH reports that NRT increases quit rates by 50-70%, and the rate is even higher for combination methods. This can be a mixture of different NRTs — such as a pouch alongside a patch — or NRT with counseling or CBT.

Most NRT forms are also discreet and non-fire hazards. This means that they can easily be used in public places such as restaurants where smoking is banned. Their convenient usage allows the user to mitigate cravings while in the office too. This decreases the need for “cigarette breaks” which according to HRM America can harm colleague relations and even affect productivity. Smokers take about three cigarette breaks throughout their work shift, which studies find can average 8 minutes a day per smoke break.

How to get started

To use NRT for cessation purposes, it's best to start with the dose closest to the amount of nicotine that you are currently consuming. This will allow you to slowly lessen your intake, all the way up to 2mg for some NRT products, before completely cutting it off.

Before taking up any NRT, it's best to consult your personal healthcare provider. This will help you gauge the right dosage and determine the best product for your lifestyle. A healthier mind and body will then soon be in reach.