Characteristics of Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy provides this substance, but not the harmful chemical additives in cigarettes. What is it? What are the options? Continue reading to find out.
Characteristics of Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Last update: 04 April, 2021

Nicotine replacement therapy is a treatment to quit smoking. Its purpose is to provide the body with this substance in the form of gum, patches, sprays, and lozenges. The main advantage of these choices is that a person can avoid the harmful effects of the chemical reactions of cigarettes.

How does nicotine replacement therapy work?

Nicotine replacement therapy can help with the withdrawal symptoms and cravings people experience when they quit smoking. It usually takes smokers several attempts before they can quit for good.

Most smokers relapse within the first month. Mainly due to the symptoms they experience as a result of nicotine withdrawal. Substitution therapy deals only with physical dependence. Thus, they’ll also need strategies to overcome the psychological part.

Studies conducted on nicotine replacement therapy reveal that the chances of quitting smoking are much higher when people undergo nicotine replacement therapy along with psychological support.

Nicotine replacement therapy is one of the therapeutic options to soothe the symptoms that occur after you quit smoking.

Types of nicotine replacement therapy

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved various forms of nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking:

1. Patches

This is a way of administering nicotine through the skin, providing an adequate dose of nicotine to each person. As time goes by, people use patches with lower doses and their nicotine dependence also decreases.

  • 16-hour patches are suitable for those who smoke little. However, keep in mind that they don’t provide nicotine at night and won’t be useful as a treatment if your withdrawal symptoms happen early in the morning.
  • The nicotine contribution of the 24-hour patch is constant, so you can avoid any withdrawal symptoms.

You need to change the patches every day in the morning by sticking them on a clean, dry skin area. Possible side effects include skin irritations, dizziness, headache, nausea, and difficulty sleeping.

2. Chewing gum

A pack of cigs and mint gum.

This kind of chewing gum is for consumption over a period of six months maximum. In addition, people shouldn’t chew them all day long.

The oral mucous membrane absorbs the nicotine from chewing gum, it’s available in 2 mg and 4 mg concentrations, and people are to chew them slowly until they notice the taste.

Then, they must hold it on one side of their cheeks, inside the mouth, until they no longer perceive the taste. Then, repeat the process again by switching sides and repeat for one hour.

As the oral mucous membrane absorbs the nicotine, any other intake of food and beverages may affect its absorption. For this reason, it’s better not to eat or drink at least a quarter of an hour prior to chewing the gum.

It isn’t advisable to consume more than 24 chewing gum pieces a day and treatment shouldn’t last for more than six months. The ideal length of time to use them is between two and four months. In addition, possible side effects may include a bad taste in the mouth or throat irritation, among others.

3. Nicotine nasal spray replacement therapy

This treatment quickly sends nicotine into the bloodstream through the nasal mucosa. It’s useful to quickly relieve any withdrawal symptoms and helps control the urge to smoke.

The FDA recommends its use for three months and no more than six months. Moreover, the most common side effects of nicotine nasal spray use include throat and nose irritation. These effects disappear after a couple of weeks of stopping the spray.

4. Nicotine lozenges

These come in two different dosages to meet the nicotine needs of different smokers. Furthermore, the concentration can be 2 and 4 mg, and a person should choose the one that best meets their needs.

It’s usually recommended to suck one tablet every one to two hours for a month and a half, then another one every two to four hours for almost two months, and finally one every four to eight hours for three months.

As with chewing gum, the oral mucous membrane absorbs the nicotine in these lozenges and so it isn’t advisable to eat or drink at least a quarter of an hour beforehand, or while you have one on your mouth. Note that you have to suck the tablet until it completely dissolves — about half an hour.


Finally, no one type of nicotine replacement therapy is better than another. You simply have to choose the one that best fits your lifestyle and smoking style.

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