Appropriate use of medication can help smokers overcome nicotine addiction

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Thu 11 August 2022 07:00

The New York State Smoking Cessation Helpline provides medications and advice for effective use to help people quit smoking

Guest Editorial by the New York State Quit Smoking Helpline

The New York State Smokers’ Helpline reminds New York State residents that cigarettes and vaping products are highly addictive. To overcome this addiction, the use of FDA-approved medications known as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can help relieve physical cravings while on a tobacco-free journey. As with all medications, NRT is most effective when used as directed.

“The FDA understands seven types of NRT drugs, each with its own method of administration,” said Dr. Martin Mahoney, medical director of Quitline and professor of oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo. “Sometimes users of tobacco and vaping products need to try different NRT medications to determine which works best for them. The combination of drugs can be quite effective in dealing with both short-term and long-term cravings. NRT is very safe to use, but I recommend tobacco users first consult with their healthcare professionals and Quitline’s knowledgeable coaches when beginning a quit journey.”

The Quitline provides coaching support seven days a week by phone at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487), by text and online at nysmokefree.com. Most participants are eligible to receive a free starter kit of NRT medications shipped to their home, usually consisting of nicotine patches and/or nicotine gum or lozenges.

Quitline quit coaches have found that people sometimes use NRT too sparingly or, conversely, as a permanent substitute for cigarettes and/or vaping products. When used as directed, NRT medications may need to be weaned off once the person transitions to a tobacco-free lifestyle. Continued use of cigarettes and/or vaping products while using NRT will essentially render drug therapy ineffective.

Some of the quitting coaches also offer the following considerations for effective use of NRT:

“Rotate where you place the nicotine patch each day to avoid skin irritation — place it below your neck, above your waist, and away from your heart,” Effie says.

“Make a plan to reduce your nicotine gum intake each week and use the gum to control cravings rather than replace old smoking/vaping routines,” Darlene says.

“Avoid acidic substances such as coffee, carbonated drinks, and juices for 15 minutes before and during nicotine gum use to improve drug absorption,” Ange said.

“When using the nicotine lozenge, remember not to chew or suck on it — instead, place it between your gum and your cheek,” Caitlin said.

NRT is an important part of a surrender journey; additional resources for behavior modification will increase the likelihood of sustained quit success. The Quitline encourages all participants to develop a comprehensive quit plan in consultation with their healthcare professionals and to participate in a local quit program (if available). While no one approach works better for becoming tobacco-free, proven, FDA-approved NRT medications can make the quitting process easier.

Overcoming nicotine addiction, despite its challenges, is one of the best things you can do to live a happier, healthier, and longer life.

About the New York State Smokers’ Helpline

The New York State Smokers’ Helpline is a service of the New York State Department of Health and is based at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. It has answered nearly 3 million calls since it began operating in 2000. The Quitline encourages users of tobacco and vaping products to speak with their healthcare professionals and access Medicaid benefits or health insurance available for drug support. All New York State residents can call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) for free coaching and resources, seven days a week starting at 9 a.m. Visit www.nysmokefree.com for more information.

About Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the desire to break the grip of cancer on humanity by uncovering its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in upstate New York. Learn more at www.roswellpark.org, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or [email protected].

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