Nicotine Replacement Therapy for Quitting Tobacco
How It Works
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) helps reduce Reference nicotine withdrawal Opens New Window and craving by supplying your body with nicotine. It contains about one-third to one-half the amount of nicotine found in most cigarettes.
People become dependent on the nicotine in cigarettes because it increases the levels of certain chemicals, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, in their brains. When people quit smoking, the levels of those chemicals drop. Their bodies react by having nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as grouchiness and hunger.
Nicotine from medicines increases the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine just like nicotine from cigarettes does. Chemical levels in the brain are kept level so that withdrawal symptoms are reduced. This can temporarily replace the nicotine that a person got from smoking cigarettes. Nicotine replacement can be used in smaller and smaller amounts until a person no longer needs it.
When you inhale tobacco smoke, the nicotine in the smoke moves quickly from your lungs into your bloodstream. The nicotine in replacement products takes much longer to get into your system. This is why nicotine replacement medicines are much less likely to cause dependence on nicotine than are cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Nicotine replacement therapy is safe when used properly. Nicotine by itself is not nearly as harmful as smoking. Tars, carbon monoxide, and other toxic chemicals in tobacco cause harmful effects, not the nicotine.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: July 6, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Reference John Hughes, MD - Psychiatry