How to Choose the Best Stop Smoking Aid

Four Methods:Deciding on the Right Quit-Smoking AidChoosing a Non-Prescription MedicationChoosing a Prescription MedicationChoosing a Non-Medicated Quit-Smoking Aid

Deciding to quit smoking is a huge step. One stressful part can be deciding which quit-smoking aid you want to use to help you succeed. Knowing what is available can help you look at your needs, concerns, and life so you can choose which aid is right for you.

Method 1
Deciding on the Right Quit-Smoking Aid

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    Take into account your situation. Quitting smoking is difficult, and it varies from person to person. The choice of a quit-smoking aid is a personal choice based on your level of comfort, your daily activities, your level of withdrawal symptoms, and even your history with smoking. You are significantly more likely to quit smoking if you use a quit-smoking aid.[1]
    • For example, if this is your first attempt to quit smoking, you may want to try a combination of over-the-counter Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) along with support from a professional. If you have tried to quit smoking before, you may want to consider a prescription medicine this time.
    • Remember, medications alone will not help you quit smoking. You need to develop a quit smoking plan to help. Also, be aware that using medications won't make quitting smoking easy.
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    Talk to your doctor. Though many NRTs are available without a prescription, you should always consult your doctor before you quit smoking. Since quitting smoking is an individualized process, your doctor can help you choose the right combination of treatments for your particular situation.[2]
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    Learn what Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) does. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) medications help by providing you with a small dosage of nicotine. This helps with nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. As you progress, you get lower dosages of nicotine until you are completely off. This helps you gradually get off nicotine.[3]
    • NRT only gives nicotine, not the other chemicals in cigarettes.
    • NRT are the most commonly used quit-smoking aids. They can be used in combination with other quit-smoking aids or used alone.
    • NRTs come in the form of gum, lozenges, patches, inhalers, and sprays. Except for the patch, you can use them multiple times during the day, whenever you have a craving. You generally use them for two to three months.
    • You do not have to have a prescription for most NRTs. However, you should still discuss using them with your doctor before you start taking them. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are considering combining NRTs.
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    Know how prescription medication works. The other quit-smoking aid available is prescription medication. Prescription medications help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Unlike NRTs, they do not contain any nicotine.[4]
    • Prescription medications are helpful if you cannot take NRTs, or if you have tried NRTs and they did not work for you.
    • Some prescription medications can be used with NRT.
    • You take one pill a day. You generally take these medications for three months.

Method 2
Choosing a Non-Prescription Medication

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    Try nicotine gum. Nicotine gum is chewed orally. Instead of chewing like regular gum, you chew for a few bites, until there is a tingly feeling, then put the gum against the lower lip. This helps the nicotine absorb through your mouth. The gum is chewed whenever you feel a craving and can give a small dose of nicotine to help with cravings or stress.[5]
    • The gum is available in two different doses without a prescription. You can use it up to 12 weeks.
    • Nicotine gum helps right after you stop smoking. You can chew up to 24 pieces a day.[6]
    • Don’t drink anything 15 minutes before or after using the gum.
    • The downside to the gum is that you have to chew it multiple times a day. The gum may only lessen cravings, not completely get rid of them. You also have to chew the gum the right way for it to work.
    • You may experience a sore jaw, nausea, upset stomach, or mouth irritation.
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    Consider nicotine patches. Nicotine patches are small and stick to your skin. They release a steady amount of nicotine into your system through your skin. It gives you longer, more even amounts of nicotine to help with cravings and withdrawals. As you overcome withdrawal symptoms, you can taper off the nicotine patch. You can get the patch without a prescription, and it is easy to use.[7]
    • You apply a new patch every day. You use the patch for eight to 12 weeks.
    • The patch can be used along with other quit-smoking products.
    • The downside to the patch is that you can't adjust the amount of nicotine in your system. You can't use a patch to help with a sudden craving.
    • The patch may cause itching, rash, or irritation to the application site. Sometimes, the patch may cause weird dreams or disrupt sleep.
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    Use nicotine lozenges. Lozenges are tablets that you suck on as it dissolves in your mouth. They contain a small amount of nicotine that is absorbed through the mouth. They act fast, so they are good for cravings and withdrawal symptoms.[8]
    • Lozenges are available without a prescription. They are supposed to be used for about 12 weeks.
    • You can use up to 20 lozenges a day. Reduce the number of lozenges as you wean yourself off nicotine.
    • Don’t eat or drink anything but water for 15 minutes before and during using one.
    • Lozenges are used along with other quit-smoking aids.
    • You must use the lozenges repeatedly to deal with cravings. They may cause nausea, heartburn, and indigestion. They may also irritate your throat.

Method 3
Choosing a Prescription Medication

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    Think about a nicotine inhaler or spray. Nicotine inhalers have mouthpieces through which you inhale a small amount of nicotine. Nicotine nasal spray is a bottle with a pump you put into your nose and spray.[9] The inhaler and the spray are good for cravings and withdrawal because they act fast. You control how much you give yourself by puffing or spraying as much or as little as you want. The inhaler also gives you something to do with your hands.[10]
    • The spray works faster than the gum, lozenge, and inhaler.
    • Inhalers and sprays are only available with a prescription. You can use it six to 12 times a day.
    • The inhaler and spray can be used with other quit-smoking aids.
    • When using the inhaler, hold the vapor you pump into your mouth in your mouth without inhaling. Blow it out. Never inhale the vapor into your lungs.[11]
    • You must check with your doctor before using the inhaler if you have lung issues, such as asthma. If you have a sinus condition, you shouldn't use the spray.
    • A side effect of the inhaler and spray is that they may make you cough or irritate your throat. The inhaler may irritate your mouth, while the spray may irritate your nasal passages or sinuses. The spray may also make you sneeze.
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    Try Buproprion. Bupropion is a prescription medication also called Zyban or Wellbutrin when used as an antidepressant. It helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and the urge to smoke.[12] This medication can take up to three weeks to start working, so most people start taking it a few weeks before their start date. It does not contain any nicotine. You must take the pill twice a day.[13]
    • Zyban is classified as an antidepressant.
    • Zyban may cause seizures, and those with certain medical conditions or using certain drugs will be at higher risk. Tell your doctor about any and all medications and/or medical conditions if you are interested in Zyban.[14] It can also cause weakness, rapid heart rates, insomnia, agitation, headache, dry mouth, and may cause serious depression and suicidal thoughts.[15]
    • Bupropion can be used with NRT. The pill is generally used for 12 weeks.
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    Use Varenicline. Varenicline is also known as Chantix. It is another prescription pill that helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and the urge to smoke. Chantix can also block the effects of nicotine if a person starts smoking again.[16] Varenicline takes a few days to get into your bloodstream, so start taking it a week or two before your quit date. You must take the pill twice a day.[17]
    • Chantix can cause mood or behavior changes, confusion, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, extreme fear, suicidal thoughts, fainting, nausea, vivid or strange dreams, vision trouble, severe skin reactions, and impairment to drive or operate machinery.[18]
    • The pill is generally used for 12 weeks.

Method 4
Choosing a Non-Medicated Quit-Smoking Aid

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    Try hypnosis. Hypnosis is where you are put into an altered state of awareness, like a trance. It has not been proven that hypnosis is effective in helping people quit smoking, but research is ongoing. Talk to your doctor about whether or not hypnosis is right for you.[19]
    • During hypnosis, patients are asked to think about the negative results of smoking. Patients may be asked to think on how smoking poisons the body and how one should respect and protect the body.
    • A patient is taught self-hypnosis so he can perform it whenever the desire to smoke happens.
    • One in four people cannot be hypnotized, and the intensity can vary with each person.
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    Consider acupuncture. Acupuncture is a technique used in traditional Chinese medicine where needles are inserted into certain points in the body. Acupuncture is geared towards helping eliminate cravings for nicotine. You should be tobacco-free for a day before getting acupuncture.[20]
    • You can get acupuncture two to three times a week at first, then move on to once a week, before stopping completely.
    • Patients are taught to do acupressure at home to help with their cravings.
    • Acupuncture is a natural aid to stop smoking. It is used along with hypnotherapy and herbal supplements.
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    Get therapy. Studies have shown that the most effective way to quit smoking is to combine quit-smoking aids with support from professionals who help with tobacco addiction.[21] Psychotherapy is a common stop smoking aid. Quitting smoking and overcoming addiction is a major endeavor, so finding a counselor or therapist who can help you succeed might be a good aid for you. The counselor can discuss your triggers, figure out how to deal with them, and offer coping mechanisms.[22]
    • A therapist might use cognitive behavioral therapy to help you retrain your brain, overcome negative feelings, and learn how to redirect your cravings.


  • While some people use e-cigarettes, most professionals don’t suggest using them to help quit smoking. They contain nicotine that isn’t regulated, along with other chemicals.[23][24][25]

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