The start of every new year provides an opportunity for us to self-reflect on the bad habits we’ve been struggling to give up and identify ways we can possibly improve in the coming year. Trying to quit smoking is a resolution found near the top of many of people’s New Years Resolution lists. Despite knowing the negative health consequences of this habit, quitting smoking is a challenge due to the addictive powers of nicotine. However, with more and more research, we now have many medication options that can increase your chances of successfully quitting.

What’s Available:

Currently there are seven different medications on the market that have proven to be effective at helping people quit smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) provides users with small amounts of nicotine to prevent symptoms of withdrawal without exposing them to the carcinogens and toxins found in cigarettes. The goal is to progressively decrease the amounts of nicotine overtime, with the hope users will eventually no longer need nicotine. NRT is currently available in the form of nicotine gum, lozenges, transdermal patches, oral inhaler, and nasal spray.

There are two medications that do not contain nicotine and require a prescription from a doctor.  They are Zyban® (bupropion SR) and Chantix®(varenicline). Though they work in different ways, both medications act within the brain to decrease nicotine cravings and prevent symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Some studies have shown better success rates with the use of Chantix over Zyban or NRT, however any of these agents can be used to help promote smoking cessation.

What’s Right for Me?

With so many different options to choose from, it can be difficult to go about this alone, which is why it is important to always consult your doctor or pharmacist before starting any of these products. Each of these medications have side effects and can cause harm if used inappropriately. By working with your doctor and pharmacist, they can guide you on selecting a therapy that is right for you based on your smoking history, other medications you take, and personal medical history.

Also, be sure to contact your insurance company to see if certain medications are preferred under your prescription plan. Nicotine gum, lozenges, and patches should be available to you over-the-counter at your neighborhood pharmacy, however some plans may not cover these products and may only pay for prescription-only medications (nicotine oral inhaler, nasal spray, Zyban, and Chantix).

For more tips and information about smoking cessation, you can call the national quit smoking hotline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to get connected to local programs in your area and visit Holmesburg Pharmacy on Friday February 2nd from 9:00-1:00 to discuss your options with our student pharmacist and pharmacy staff.