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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.

Where to get it and how to use it

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:

  • Nicotine patches
  • Nicotine chewing gum
  • Nicotine inhalators (which look like plastic cigarettes)
  • Nicotine oral strips and lozenges
  • Nicotine oral spray

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.

Who can use it

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.

Possible side effects

Side effects of NRT can include:

  • Skin irritation when using patches.
  • Irritation of nose, throat or eyes when using a nasal spray.
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia), sometimes with vivid dreams
  • An upset stomach.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headaches.

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.

Need any more tips to quit?

Find out about other stop smoking treatments or give us a call on 0191 269 1103 for more information.

How much money could you save by stopping smoking?

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Your savings

Please note that the figures above are simply an indication of how much you could save based on the cost of a packet of cigarettes and your daily intake.