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Nicotine replacement therapy can help you quit smoking

Used properly, nicotine replacement therapy can make it easier to quit smoking.

The side effects of nicotine withdrawal can be tough to deal with.

You may feel dizzy, tired and irritable. You may have headaches and find it hard to sleep and concentrate. These are signs that your body is getting used to life without nicotine.

Fortunately, there are medications, such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), to help ease those symptoms and lessen the urge to smoke.

In fact, NRT can nearly double a person's chances of quitting successfully, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Available in gum, patches, sprays, inhalers or lozenges, NRT provides nicotine in a safe form so that your body doesn't have to go through nicotine withdrawal while you adjust to not smoking.

You need a prescription to buy the inhaler and nasal spray. But you can buy nicotine gum, patches and lozenges on your own, according to the ACS.

If you are considering using NRT to help you quit, keep these important pointers from the ACS and the National Cancer Institute in mind:

Ask first. Find out from your doctor if NRT is right for you. For some people, such as pregnant women, NRT may not be a good choice. Nor is it recommended for teens.

Take it early. The most effective time to start NRT is at the beginning of an attempt to quit.

Start strong. After you first stop smoking, use the full amount of NRT listed on the instructions. Take every dose regularly—not just every now and then.

Give it time. It may take time to get used to taking NRT. Follow the instructions to be sure you are using the product correctly.

Don't mix. Avoid using tobacco and NRT products at the same time. NRT products are meant to replace the nicotine you get from tobacco; using both could lead to a nicotine overdose. If you do slip up and smoke a cigarette or two, don't give up on NRT. Keep trying.

Stick with it. You can usually use NRT for a few weeks to a few months—for nicotine gum, it's usually 6 to 12 weeks, with a maximum of 6 months.

Be prepared. Even after you stop using NRT, keep some of the medicine with you so that you'll be ready for an unexpected craving.

You can learn more about the types of medicines available to help you quit here.

Reviewed 10/21/2021

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