Monday, May 27, 2013

Drugs Recommended To Assist Quit Smoking

Smoking cessation can lead to immediate health benefits, but smokers often need help. There are prescription and over-the-counter drugs that reportedly improve the chances of a smoker quitting, but all have side-effects - including, in the case of two, behavioral changes that may lead to depression or suicidal thoughts.

Drugs can be prescribed to help smokers quit.


There are two categories of medications to help you stop smoking: nicotine replacement therapy and non-nicotine medications. According to the Mayo Clinic, using one of these products doubles your chance of successfully conquering your addition to smoking.

Nicotine Replacement

Nicotine replacement medications contain gradually reducing amounts of nicotine and are intended to lessen the amount of irritability and headaches you feel as you break your addiction. Continuing to smoke while using nicotine replacement medications is dangerous; it is important to completely stop smoking while using this form of treatment. Although some nicotine replacement medications are available over-the-counter, nicotine nasal sprays and nicotine inhalers require a prescription. These products may have to be used for up to six months.

Non-Nicotine Replacement

There are two prescription drugs for smoking cessation that do not contain nicotine. One is the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban), which works by increasing the level of dopamine in the brain. This is the chemical boosted by nicotine. The newest choice in smoking cessation medications is varenicline (Chantix). This medication helps ease nicotine withdrawal symptoms, and blocks the effect of nicotine if you begin to smoke again. It is intended to be used for 12 weeks. Your doctor may prescribe Chantix for an additional 12 weeks to ensure long-term success.


Many prescription medications to help somkers quit have unpleasant side effects. Nicotine nasal spray may cause a runny nose, watery eyes or coughing. These symptoms usually go away in a week or two. Nicotine inhalers may cause throat discomfort. Non-nicotine replacement medications have more serious side-effects. Bupropion may cause headaches, sleep disturbances and dry mouth. Chantix may cause nausea, vomiting, headache and insomnia. The FDA requires manufacturers to include a warning that these medications may cause behavior changes, including depression, agitation and suicidal thoughts.


It is important to work closely with your doctor in choosing a product to help you stop smoking. Your doctor may recommend a combination of both nicotine replacement and non-nicotine replacement medications. Be sure you understand exactly use the product you are prescribed, and call your doctor if you develop any disturbing side effects.

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