The main reason that people smoke is because they are addicted to nicotine. NRT is a medication that provides you with a low level of nicotine, without the tar, carbon monoxide and other poisonous chemicals present in tobacco smoke. It can help reduce unpleasant withdrawal effects, such as bad moods and cravings, which may occur when you stop smoking.
NRT can be bought from pharmacies and some shops. It’s also available on prescription from a doctor or NHS stop smoking service.
It’s available as:
Patches release nicotine slowly. Some are worn all the time and some should be taken off at night. Inhalators, gum and sprays act more quickly and may be better for helping with cravings. There’s no evidence that any single type of NRT is more effective than another. But there is good evidence to show that using a combination of NRT is more effective than using a single product.
Often the best way to use NRT is to combine a patch with a faster acting form such as gum, inhalator or oral spray.
Treatment with NRT usually lasts 8-12 weeks, before you gradually reduce the dose and eventually stop.
Most people are able to use NRT, including:
Adults and children over 12 years of age.
Pregnant women – Always read the packet or leaflet before using NRT to check whether it’s suitable for you.
Breastfeeding women – Always read the packet or leaflet before using NRT to check whether it’s suitable for you.
Sometimes it may be advisable to get medical advice first, for example if you have kidney or liver problems, or you’ve recently had a heart attack or stroke.
Side effects of NRT can include:
Any side effects are usually mild. But if they’re particularly troublesome, contact your GP as the dose or type of NRT may need to be changed.
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