Nicotine acts on the brain's chemistry. It creates feelings of pleasure. These feelings go away within a few minutes. People will need to keep using nicotine to feel this way again. This cycle can lead to addiction.
Symptoms only happen when nicotine is not being used. This is known as withdrawal. Symptoms are:
- Increased hunger
- Thinking and attention problems
- Trouble sleeping
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked about your history of using tobacco products. A physical exam will be done.
A blood test can check cotinine level in your saliva or blood. This will show changes in nicotine use. The doctor may use it to check your progress.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment may involve 1 or more therapies. Options include:
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
NRT relieves withdrawal symptoms. NRT products include:
- Nicotine gum
- Nasal sprays
The chance of becoming dependent on these products is low. NRT does not create the same 'feel good' feelings as nicotine.
NRT may help you to:
- Avoid smoking
- Reduce the amount of tobacco you use
- Quit and stay smoke-free
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) turn liquid nicotine into a vapor. There is conflicting evidence on whether or not they may help you quit. In addition, the long-term effects of e-cigarette use are not known.
Behavioral therapies include:
- Group behavior therapy
- Telephone quit lines, cell phone programs, and text messaging programs
- Internet and computer-based programs
- Self-help classes and manuals
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
Medicine that may help you quit include:
- Nicotine partial agonists—mimics effect of nicotine to ease withdrawal
Other medicine may help ease withdrawal symptoms. A third type may be used if you start smoking again. It blocks the pleasure feeling when you use nicotine.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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