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Jun 2015
Ways To Beat Your Nicotine Addiction
Ways to beat your nicotine addiction Whether you’re giving up for the first or umpteenth time, National No Smoking Day is a good date to start. Here’s what you need to know about nicotine (and how to kick the habit) If you’ve tried giving up smoking before and haven’t succeeded, you’ll know very well how addictive nicotine is. Indeed, the Royal College of Physicians agrees that nicotine fulfils criteria for defining an addictive substance, with a report on nicotine addiction stating that cigarettes are ‘as addictive as drugs such as heroin or cocaine’.(According to a report of the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians, London, RCP, 2000 -Nicotine Addiction in Britain) With every puff of a cigarette, nicotine is delivered quickly to your brain. Like other addictive drugs, nicotine triggers feelings of pleasure by stimulating the release of a brain chemical called dopamine. As time goes on, more and more nicotine is required to feel that sense of pleasure and as soon as the effects of nicotine wear off, withdrawal symptoms kick in causing a feeling of stress and anxiety. So is it any wonder that many people – even those who desperately want to quit the habit – find giving up smoking so difficult? Withdrawal symptoms Nicotine is very addictive and therefore has powerful withdrawal symptoms, including cravings, irritability, anxiety, poor concentration, restlessness, sleep disturbances, and increased appetite. These symptoms – which affect up to 70 percent of quitters – can last for some time without appropriate support. But there is a way to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products –such as gum, patches and lozenges –reduce withdrawal symptoms by replacing the nicotine from cigarettes, making the transition from smoking to not smoking easier. According to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), smokers who use a combination of medication such as NRT as well as behavioural support are four times more likely to quit successfully than those who go cold turkey (quit without help). Clinical trials have also consistently found that NRT increases the success of quitting smoking by 50-70 percent. NRT products are available at our pharmacy or via a prescription from a GP or qualified NHS Stop Smoking Advisor, and are usually taken for 8-12 weeks. Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of NRT products and who they are suitable for: Patches Who are they for? Moderate to heavy smokers who smoke throughout the day. How do you use them? Patches, which are available in three different strengths, are applied to the skin, usually the upper arm, and steadily releases nicotine throughout the day. Gum Who is it for? Gum is suitable for people who don’t need a continuous supply of nicotine but who do need help with withdrawal symptoms. How do you use it? Gum must be chewed until it tastes strong, after which you place it between your gum and cheek to absorb the nicotine (this is called the chew and park method). Lozenges Who are they for? These are suitable for people who don’t like chewing gum but need help with withdrawal symptoms. How do you use them? You simply place the lozenge in the mouth and allow it to dissolve. Microtabs Who are they for? Microtabs are ideal for people who want to be discreet about using NRT. How do you use them? You put them under your tongue and let them dissolve. Microtabs are very discreet and easy to use. Inhalators Who are they for? Inhalators are recommended for people who like the hand-to-mouth action of smoking. How do you use them? They are used to inhale nicotine via your mouth as and when you get a craving. They’re ideal for people who like to keep their hands busy. Nasal spray Who is it for? NRT nasal sprays are aimed at people who get very strong cravings and need instant relief. How do you use it? When sprayed into the nostrils, it delivers nicotine to the body. Mouth strips Who are they for? Mouth strips are ideal for people who want quick relief from the urge to smoke as well as those who smoke their first cigarette 30 minutes or more after waking. How do you use them? You place a strip on your tongue and press it to the roof of your mouth. The thin format of the strip means it can be dissolved in the mouth in approximately three minutes, which means nicotine is released into the mouth rapidly. Mouth spray Who is it for? This form of NRT is for people who want fast but discreet relief from the urge to smoke. How do you use it? You spray up to two doses into the mouth whenever you would normally have a cigarette (the second dose can be used if the craving doesn’t disappear a few minutes after the first). Avoid swallowing straight after spraying into the mouth. Champix (varenicline) tablets Who are they for? These tablets are a Prescription Only Medicine and not a form of NRT, but they are suitable for people who don’t want to use NRT products or have tried them in the past and want something different. How do you use them? They can help you quit by ‘copying’ some of the effects of nicotine from cigarettes and by reducing cravings and other withdrawal symptoms. They are tablets you swallow initially once a day then twice a day for usually 12 weeks Find a pharmacy that offers help with smoking cessation by using the Pharmacy Finder at www.allabouthealth.org.uk. Meanwhile, find out more about NHS Stop Smoking support services by calling the NHS Stop Smoking helpline on 0300 123 1044 (England), 0800 84 84 84 Motivation tips Giving up smoking relies on strong motivation. If you need help, here are some motivation tips: If you’ve tried giving up smoking before without success, keep telling yourself you can do it this time (according to Action on Smoking and Health, your chances of stopping are high if you keep trying) Encourage any members of your family or friends who smoke to give up too – the support you can give each other will be invaluable Avoid smokers when you’re in social situations –stick with people who don’t smoke Remind yourself why you’re trying to give up– make a list of all your reasons for quitting and look at it whenever you’re tempted to give in Reasons for quitting could include setting a good example to your children, improving your health and fitness, saving money, avoiding the damage smoking can do to your appearance and having a better quality of life in general Get a Quit Kit and face-to-face support from a pharmacy that offers the NHS Stop Smoking Service (visitwww.allabouthealth.org.uk to find your nearest participating pharmacy). You can also get a free mobile app, email and text support atquitnow.smokefree.nhs.uk Ruislip Manor Pharmacy Part of the Hillingdon stop smoking service, offering a comprehensive variety of strategies to patients to help you quit smoking. Telephone or pop in 01895 632409
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