Why NRTs Might Not Be Very Helpful to Help You Quit for Good

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

Researchers look deeper into the benefits vis-à-vis the disadvantages of using nicotine replacement therapy.

Nicotine replacement therapy, or simply NRT, has different types. Common NRT includes gum, patch, inhaler, nasal spray, and lozenges. Normally, the NRT chosen by a particular smoker depends on his or her personal taste, preference, or on the advice of his or her physician.Smoke Or Give Up?

Continuous exposure to nicotine causes an adaptation in the brain that result in nicotine addiction or dependence. The use of NRT offers a “healthier” option where smokers get their daily dose of nicotine without smoking. But does it really help cure nicotine dependence?

NRT is a good transitional therapy to help smokers quit s smoking completely. However, some studies would contradict this common belief.

One concern is that usage of NRTs may actually become an addiction itself. Some smokers would even admit that using NRT is like trading one addiction for another. It is seems that NRT serves only the purpose of addressing the physical act of smoking and not the nicotine addiction. This is the reason why some smokers would prefer to use other options that would address nicotine addiction and smoking cessation simultaneously.

Another concern is the cost of most NRTs. They would usually top the cost of smoking. A smoker can say that smoking is cheaper and would go back to smoking after realizing that NRTs simply offer a different way of delivering nicotine to the body and don’t address the addiction.

NRTs also have its health risks. Some studies suggest that NRTs may also cause circulatory diseases, and may affect the retina and kidneys. Nicotine by itself, even without passing through the lungs, can still cause cancer. It has also been proved that it causes an increase in tumor cells.


NRTs are also being associated with some side effects. While, this issue is somehow being attributed to the dose of nicotine, the brand, or to specific allergies that the patient might be suffering from, there are still a few common side effects of the use of NRTs which include dizziness, nausea, sleep disturbances, mouth sores, skin irritations, muscle stiffness, headaches, and palpitation.

Are NRTs really helpful?

Most supported researches would seem to be on the negative. In several cases, NRTs would only seem to cause smokers to shift from one form of addiction to another. And considering the fact that some NRTs are even more expensive than smoking, smokers tend to be drawn back to smoking because it is cheaper, anyway nicotine addiction is still there and NRTs failed to provide the relief they are seeking. Sadly, some smokers would go back to smoking amidst the available options and the persistent encouragement of their physician and family.



On the other hand, quitting smoking doesn’t solely depends on the NRTs. The smoker’s determination, will or willingness to quit, and his or her support group should also be considered. Other alternatives to help you quit smoking include smoking cessation drugs (Chantix) and complementary therapies like hypnosis and yoga.


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