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Options For Smoking Cessation

Options For Smoking Cessation

People who want to stop smoking have many options if they need treatment—including talk therapy and medications that block the effects of nicotine.

Smoking cessation can benefit anyone of any age who wants to quit smoking. It can improve your overall health and enhance your quality of life. It can also reduce your risk of premature death and can add as many as 10 years to your life, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

It’s not always easy to stop smoking cold turkey, and not everyone can do it. Fortunately, there are plenty of smoking cessation treatments that are proven safe and effective at helping you quit.

Here's a look at treatments for smoking cessation and how to contact Lompoc Valley Medical Center if you’d like to learn more about any of these treatments.

Nicotine Patch

A nicotine patch is a form of nicotine replacement. It is a small sticker or patch that sticks to your skin, where it releases a slow, steady amount of nicotine into your body. The patch can be worn for 24 hours at a time and takes about two to four hours to start working. It can reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms, including nicotine cravings.

Nicotine patches can be purchased without a prescription from nearly any pharmacy. It comes in different doses, so you can choose a patch that releases just enough nicotine to reduce cravings. When buying nicotine patches, refer to the directions on the box to determine which dosage you need.

The CDC says that nicotine replacement products like the patch can give you nicotine without the hundreds of harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke. It adds that if you use these products correctly, you will not suffer from overwhelming cravings when you finally stop using them.

Nicotine Gum

Nicotine gum is another form of nicotine replacement. Each box of nicotine gum comes with several pieces that you chew for 30 minutes every one to two hours. The gum works similarly to the nicotine patch, except the nicotine is absorbed by the tissues in your mouth.

Most nicotine gum must be chewed a certain way for you to receive the nicotine. Generally, you hold the gum between your gum line and cheek until you no longer taste pepper or feel a tingly sensation. Then, you bite into the gum again and repeat those steps.

Nicotine gum is also available without a prescription. However, it may not be ideal for those who wear dental appliances.

Nicotine Lozenge

Nicotine lozenges are dissolvable tablets that you place between your gum line and cheek. They work almost exactly like nicotine gum, but instead of chewing it, it dissolves in your mouth.

When buying nicotine lozenges, follow the directions on the box to make sure you get enough nicotine to curb your cravings.

Nicotine Inhaler

A nicotine inhaler is a device that works similarly to an e-cigarette, only it gives you a far smaller dose of nicotine. It comes with a set of nicotine cartridges you place into the device. When you puff on the inhaler, nicotine vapor is released from the cartridge. The nicotine goes into your bloodstream through the tissues in your mouth and throat.

Each session with the nicotine inhaler should last about 20 minutes. It can be used up to 16 times a day, reports the National Library of Medicine (NLM).

A top benefit of using a nicotine inhaler is that you can use it only when you feel cravings or withdrawal symptoms. This form of smoking cessation may be right for you if you occasionally crave a cigarette and don’t smoke all day long.

The nicotine inhaler is only available by prescription. It is not recommended for people who have asthma or other breathing problem.

Nicotine Nasal Spray

Nicotine nasal spray works just like nasal treatments for other conditions. It sends a small dose of nicotine into your nose, where it is absorbed by your nasal tissues.

The recommended dose is one to two sprays in each nostril. These sprays should be given once or twice an hour. It takes about five to 10 minutes for nicotine levels to peak after using this spray.

The NLM says you should not use nicotine nasal spray more than 80 times a day and that you should not use it for longer than six months. It is available only by prescription and may not be ideal for you if you have a nasal or sinus condition.


Bupropion is an antidepressant medication. It was initially developed to treat depression. However, it is also found useful in helping people quit smoking long-term, says the NIDA. It works by interacting with certain brain chemicals like dopamine to reduce nicotine cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.

Bupropion is available only by prescription. You should start using it about one week before you plan to quit smoking and keep using it for seven to 12 weeks. This medication is usually taken once or twice a day, with each dose spaced at least eight hours apart.

An advantage of taking bupropion is that it comes as a pill. It can also help you avoid weight gain, which is common among many people who quit smoking. It may cause side effects such as headaches, insomnia, and mood changes. It may also cause seizures in those who have a history of seizures.


Varenicline is a medication used only for smoking cessation. It works by blocking the pleasurable effects of nicotine on your brain. This makes smoking less desirable, which can help you quit.

Like bupropion, varenicline is available only by prescription. It should be started about one week before you plan to stop smoking. It must be taken after meals once or twice a day.

According to the NLM, varenicline should not be combined with any form of nicotine replacement such as patches, gum, or nasal spray. It should also not be used by kids under the age of 18.

The NIDA mentions a study in which this drug was tested on a group of patients who were trying to quit smoking. It says that 44% of the patients in the study who used it were still not smoking two years later.

Potential side effects of varenicline include nausea, insomnia, and strange dreams. It may also cause mood disorders like depression.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy may be ideal for people who want to stop smoking without the use of drugs or nicotine replacement. Generally, most people who want to quit smoking with behavioral therapy need between four to eight treatment sessions, says the NIDA. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI), and mindfulness are among the top therapies used for smoking cessation.

CBT can help you identify triggers. Common triggers for smoking include drinking alcohol, going to clubs or bars, and experiencing stressful situations. Your therapist will teach you how to manage or avoid those triggers so you can stop smoking.

MI can help you increase your motivation to quit smoking. This therapy involves helping you find out why you may be hesitant to stop smoking. It enhances your motivation to make healthy behavioral changes.

Mindfulness helps you increase your awareness of the present moment and let go of thoughts, feelings, and cravings that influence you to want to smoke. This therapy will teach you how to manage stress using methods like meditation and deep breathing instead of turning to nicotine.

There are many other therapeutic services available to help you quit smoking, such as telephone support, quitlines, and smartphone apps. Some people find that these methods are more fun and engaging than drugs and talk therapy.

Support Groups

There are plenty of support groups out there for people who want to quit smoking. Support groups can help you feel less alone in your journey to quit. They can expose you to other people just like you who want to stop smoking.

Nicotine Anonymous uses a similar approach to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It is a 12-step program for anyone who has the desire to quit smoking. Just like AA, Nicotine Anonymous gives you the option to work with a sponsor who can help you deal with nicotine cravings.

Freedom From Smoking is a support group program operated by the American Lung Association. It hosts eight sessions of in-person and virtual meetings limited to eight to 16 people. Each session is designed to help you gain control over your smoking so you can quit long-term. It introduces a variety of techniques you can use to stop smoking. It also has an app that walks you through the quitting process day by day.

Ask your doctor for a referral to a support group if you think this option would benefit you. Many support groups for smoking are free and widely available throughout the country.

Stop Smoking Today With Lompoc Valley Medical Center

Lompoc Valley Medical Center offers a wide range of healthcare services—including smoking cessation treatments. We can discuss your options for medications and other smoking cessation treatments that require a prescription. Contact us today at (805) 737-8700 to request an appointment and learn more about our many healthcare services.