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Learn about NRT and other medications that can help.

For most smokers, the physical addiction that nicotine causes makes smoking a hard habit to kick. The good news is that with the right tools, you can do it!

When you quit smoking, it's common to feel irritable, edgy and restless for a short time. These withdrawal symptoms occur because your body isn't getting the nicotine it craves. Medications can help ease these symptoms until they go away. Medications can also double your chances of quitting smoking for good.

Here’s a look at some of the medications you can use to deal with withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine replacement therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) involves using products that release small, controlled amounts of nicotine into the body. This helps reduce the cravings that can make quitting hard. Over time, you gradually reduce and then stop using them.

Nicotine replacement comes in five different forms:

  • Nicotine patches (over-the-counter)
  • Gum (over-the-counter)
  • Lozenges (over-the-counter)
  • Nicotine inhalers (requires a prescription)
  • Nasal spray (requires a prescription)

All of these medications are approved for adults age 18 and older by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But each type of NRT has some pros and cons. It's a good idea to discuss the choices with your doctor.

Medications that don’t contain nicotine

Medications that don't contain nicotine can also help you quit smoking. There are two types that you can get as prescription medications. They can ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce your urge to smoke. They are:

  • Bupropion. This prescription anti-depressant can be used alone or it can be combined with NRT, especially for heavy smokers. It reduces the urge to smoke by affecting the chemicals in the brain.
  • Varenicline. This medicine was developed specifically to help people stop smoking. It has two effects: it lessens the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and it decreases the pleasurable physical effect of smoking. Combined treatment with varenicline and NRT may increase side effects. The incidence of side effects was greater for the combination of the two medications than for NRT by itself.

Both of these options may have side effects. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of these prescription medications and whether one may be right for you.



The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs and to determine whether making a lifestyle change or decision based on this information is appropriate for you. Some treatments mentioned may not be covered by your health plan. Please refer to your benefit plan documents for information about coverage.