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Smoking cessation medications

Smoking cessation - medications; Smokeless tobacco - medications; Medications for stopping tobacco

Your health care provider can prescribe medicines to help you quit tobacco use. These medicines do not contain nicotine and are not habit-forming. They work in a different way than nicotine patches, gums, sprays, or lozenges.

Information

Smoking cessation medicines can help:

  • Lessen the craving for tobacco.
  • Decrease withdrawal symptoms.
  • Keep you from starting to use tobacco again.

Like other treatments, these medicines work best when they are part of a program that includes:

  • Making a clear decision to quit and setting a quit date.
  • Creating a plan to help you deal with smoking urges.
  • Getting support from a doctor, counselor, or support group.

BUPROPION (Zyban)

Bupropion is a pill that may cut down your craving for tobacco.

Bupropion is also used for people with depression. It helps with quitting tobacco even if you do not have problems with depression. It is not fully clear how bupropion helps with tobacco cravings and quitting tobacco.

Bupropion should not be used for people who:

  • Are under age 18
  • Are pregnant
  • Have a history of medical problems such seizures, kidney failure, heavy alcohol use, eating disorders, bipolar or manic depressive illness, or a serious head injury

How to take it:

  • Start bupropion 1 week before you plan to stop smoking. Your goal is to take it for 7 to 12 weeks. Talk with your doctor before taking it for a longer period of time. For some people, taking it longer helps prevent resuming smoking.
  • The most common dose is a 150 mg tablet once or twice a day with at least 8 hours between each dose. Swallow the pill whole. DO NOT chew, split, or crush it. Doing so can cause side effects, including seizures.
  • If you need help with cravings when first quitting, you may take bupropion along with nicotine patches, gums, or lozenges. Ask your doctor if this is OK for you.

Side effects of this medicine may include:

  • Dry mouth.
  • Problems sleeping. Try taking the second dose in the afternoon if you have this problem (take it at least 8 hours after the first dose).
  • Stop taking this medicine right away if you have changes in behavior. These include anger, agitation, depressed mood, thoughts of suicide, or attempted suicide.

VARENICLINE (CHANTIX)

Varenicline (Chantix) helps with the craving for nicotine and withdrawal symptoms. It works in the brain to reduce the physical effects of nicotine. This means that even if you start smoking again after quitting, you will not get as much pleasure from it when you are taking this drug.

How to take it:

  • Start taking this medicine 1 week before you plan to quit cigarettes. Or, you can begin taking the medicine, then choose a date within 4 weeks to quit. Another way is to begin taking the medicine, then slowly stop smoking over the next 12 weeks.
  • Take it after meals with a full glass of water.
  • Your provider will tell you how to take this medicine. Most people take one 0.5 mg pill a day at first. By the end of the second week, you will likely be taking a 1 mg pill twice a day.
  • DO NOT combine this drug with nicotine patches, gums, sprays or lozenges.
  • Children under age 18 should not take this drug.

Most people tolerate varenicline well. Side effects are not common, but can include the following if they do occur:

  • Headaches, problems sleeping, sleepiness, and strange dreams.
  • Constipation, intestinal gas, nausea, and changes in taste.
  • Depressed mood, thoughts of suicide and attempted suicide. Call your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms.

NOTE: Use of this medicine is linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

OTHER MEDICINES

The following medicines may help when other treatments have not worked. The benefits are less consistent, so they are considered second-line treatment.

  • Clonidine is normally used to treat high blood pressure. It may help when it is started before quitting. This drug comes as a pill or patch.
  • Nortriptyline is another antidepressant. It is started 10 to 28 days before quitting.

References

George TP. Nicotine and tobacco. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 32.

Siu AL; US Preventive Services Task Force. Behavioral and pharmacotherapy interventions for tobacco smoking cessation in adults, including pregnant women: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2015;163(8):622-634. PMID: 26389730 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26389730.

US Food and Drug Administration website. Want to quit smoking? FDA-approved products can help. www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm198176.htm. Updated December 11, 2017. Accessed February 26, 2019.

  • Smoking tips to quit

    Animation

  •  

    Smoking tips to quit - Animation

    You probably know by now that smoking damages your lungs, raising your risk for bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer. And, you're probably well aware that lighting up also puts you at risk for many different types of cancers, as well as eye disease like cataracts and premature wrinkles, you know why you shouldn't smoke, it's just the quitting part you can't seem to get past. Let's talk about some helpful tips to help you quit smoking, for good this time. It's a familiar story, one that plays out over and over again among smokers. You vow to quit, and you have every intention of doing it, and then the cravings hit. And you can't think about anything but having a cigarette. You get irritable, and you start putting on weight. You think, Just one cigarette wouldn't hurt, would it? And then, before you know it, you're smoking again. Most smokers have tried to quit, and failed, several times. Even if you've failed before, you can still succeed at quitting. Many people have. You just need to find the technique that works for you. So, here are a few tips that can help. First, set a quit date. Write it down on your calendar and tell a few friends, so you'll be too embarrassed to back out. Before your quit date, throw out every cigarette in your house, car, and office. Also toss every ashtray, lighter, and anything else you need to smoke. Wash your clothes and clean your furniture so you won't have that smoky smell hanging around your house. Next, call your doctor. Ask about smoking cessation programs in your area. Also learn about tools that can help you quit, like medicines that reduce the urge to smoke, and nicotine replacement gums, lozenges, patches, and sprays. And then, plan what you'll do instead of smoking. If you smoke with your morning cup of coffee, drink tea or go for a walk instead. If you need a cigarette to keep your mouth busy, try chewing sugarless gum or nibble on a carrot stick. Stick to places where smoking isn't allowed, like smoke-free restaurants. And finally, reward yourself for not smoking. Put all that money that you would have spent on cigarettes into a jar. And once you've collected enough money, use it to take a trip or buy something you've wanted for a long time. Don't get discouraged. Quitting smoking isn't easy. If it were, everyone would have done it by now. Be persistent, reward yourself for the progress you've made, and keep at it until you finally conquer the urge to smoke.

  • Smoking tips to quit

    Animation

  •  

    Smoking tips to quit - Animation

    You probably know by now that smoking damages your lungs, raising your risk for bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer. And, you're probably well aware that lighting up also puts you at risk for many different types of cancers, as well as eye disease like cataracts and premature wrinkles, you know why you shouldn't smoke, it's just the quitting part you can't seem to get past. Let's talk about some helpful tips to help you quit smoking, for good this time. It's a familiar story, one that plays out over and over again among smokers. You vow to quit, and you have every intention of doing it, and then the cravings hit. And you can't think about anything but having a cigarette. You get irritable, and you start putting on weight. You think, Just one cigarette wouldn't hurt, would it? And then, before you know it, you're smoking again. Most smokers have tried to quit, and failed, several times. Even if you've failed before, you can still succeed at quitting. Many people have. You just need to find the technique that works for you. So, here are a few tips that can help. First, set a quit date. Write it down on your calendar and tell a few friends, so you'll be too embarrassed to back out. Before your quit date, throw out every cigarette in your house, car, and office. Also toss every ashtray, lighter, and anything else you need to smoke. Wash your clothes and clean your furniture so you won't have that smoky smell hanging around your house. Next, call your doctor. Ask about smoking cessation programs in your area. Also learn about tools that can help you quit, like medicines that reduce the urge to smoke, and nicotine replacement gums, lozenges, patches, and sprays. And then, plan what you'll do instead of smoking. If you smoke with your morning cup of coffee, drink tea or go for a walk instead. If you need a cigarette to keep your mouth busy, try chewing sugarless gum or nibble on a carrot stick. Stick to places where smoking isn't allowed, like smoke-free restaurants. And finally, reward yourself for not smoking. Put all that money that you would have spent on cigarettes into a jar. And once you've collected enough money, use it to take a trip or buy something you've wanted for a long time. Don't get discouraged. Quitting smoking isn't easy. If it were, everyone would have done it by now. Be persistent, reward yourself for the progress you've made, and keep at it until you finally conquer the urge to smoke.

     

    Review Date: 2/6/2019

    Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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