5 Not-So-Known Facts about Smoking Cessation Drugs

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

If you are having difficulties quitting smoking, you may consider taking prescription medications. There are FDA-approved drugs that help your body deal with the withdrawal symptoms and make the quitting process less stressful. But before you take any of these drugs, you may want to be informed about how they work, and everything else about them. So here are 5 facts that will help you decide whether quit smoking medications are suitable for you.

1. These drugs can double your chances of quitting.

Learning to stop smoking is much worse than learning how to start. There are different emotions and physical symptoms to deal with. You crave. You get anxious and irritable. Your head aches. You get fidgety. You lose concentration because all you want to do is light up. If you use them correctly, these drugs can double your chances of quitting smoking by reducing your craving for cigarettes and easing the physiological symptoms of withdrawal.

2. They work differently from NRT.

Nicotine replacement therapy helps you quit cigarettes by providing an alternative source of nicotine – the substance that makes tobacco addictive. Instead of smoking, you can get nicotine from the patch, gum, inhaler, etc. The nicotine supplied by NRT is steady and even, unlike that of cigarettes. But prescription medications work in a different way. The popular drug, Chantix, is prescribed by doctors for people who are having troubles getting rid of nicotine addiction. Chantix works by blocking the brain’s ability to enjoy the surge or ‘kick’ of nicotine so when you light up, you are less likely to experience the pleasure of smoking.


3. Prescription drugs are usually given to chronic smokers.


Most trials that prove the effectiveness of smoking cessation drugs have been carried out on heavy smokers. That makes sense, because these are the people who need most help. Because there’s no research on whether prescription medications could help light smokers, most doctors only recommend these drugs to those who are categorized as ‘chain smokers’ as well as those who have already tried other smoking cessation treatments but failed to eliminate their habit.

4. Not everyone is a good candidate for these drugs.


Along with nicotine replacement therapy, prescription medications are not recommended for several groups of people, such as nursing moms, pregnant women, children, and teenagers. However, in some cases and under the doctor’s supervision, a pregnant woman may be allowed to take prescription meds because it might be better than to keep smoking. Antidepressant drugs like Zyban, which are also used in quitting smoking, are not recommended to people with seizure disorders, as well as those who have history of manic episodes, including bipolar disorder, bulimia and anorexia.

5. These medications may delay weight gain during smoking cessation.

According to medical researchers, people who quit usually gain an average of 10 pounds. But studies on the effects of prescription quit smoking medications suggest that people do not gain weight during treatment, but maybe at a later period. Therefore, it is still important to observe proper diet and an active lifestyle.


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