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Comparing Stop-Smoking Medicines

Overview

Several medicines can help you quit using tobacco. You can take medicine to reduce your craving for nicotine. You also can use nicotine replacement products to reduce cravings and give you smaller and smaller amounts of nicotine.

Your doctor can help you decide which medicine—or combination of medicines—may work better for you. If you have health problems or are pregnant, you may not be able to use some of these medicines.

Medicine

What it is and how it works

Pros

Cons

Varenicline (Chantix)

  • It's a pill that helps reduce the craving for nicotine.
  • It blocks the effects of nicotine. If you use tobacco while taking it, you won't get as much pleasure from it as you used to.
  • You will need a prescription.
  • It's easy to use.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that you should stop taking the medicine and call your doctor right away if you feel depressed, suicidal, or very angry while taking it.
  • Side effects can include nausea, insomnia, abnormal dreams, and feeling very tired.
  • You might not be able to take it if you have certain health conditions, such as kidney disease.
  • There may be a small increase in risk for heart problems (including heart attack).

Bupropion SR

  • This sustained-release pill helps reduce the craving for nicotine.
  • You will need a prescription.
  • It's easy to use.
  • The FDA warns that you should stop taking the medicine and call your doctor right away if you feel depressed, suicidal, or very angry while taking it.
  • You might not be able to take it if you have certain health problems, such as seizures or an eating disorder, or if you misuse alcohol.
  • Side effects can include dry mouth, trouble sleeping, dizziness, upset stomach, and (in rare cases) seizures.

Nicotine patch

  • The patch sticks to your skin and slowly releases nicotine into your bloodstream.
  • You don't need a prescription.
  • It's easy to use. You put it on once a day.
  • You don't have to avoid certain beverages.
  • The patch is hidden on your body, so no one will know it's there.
  • Side effects can include a rash where you wear the patch, trouble sleeping (if using a 24-hour patch), and nausea.

Nicotine gum or lozenge

  • It releases nicotine slowly in your mouth.
  • You don't need a prescription.
  • You can use it if you need extra help while you are using the patch or taking quit-tobacco medicines.
  • You can use it whenever you feel stressed or have cravings, as long as you don't exceed the daily dose.
  • You have to avoid beverages (especially coffee, juices, and soda pop) for 15 minutes before and after use. If you don't, your body may not absorb the nicotine as well.
  • Gum can cause a bad taste, a tingling feeling on the tongue, nausea, or heartburn.
  • Lozenges can cause upset stomach, heartburn, nausea, or gas.

Nicotine inhaler

  • It delivers a puff of nicotine vapor into your mouth and throat.
  • You will need a prescription.
  • You can use it if you need extra help while you're using the patch or taking quit-tobacco medicines.
  • You can use it whenever you feel stressed or have cravings, as long as you don't exceed the daily dose.
  • It satisfies the need to have something in your mouth to take the place of a cigarette.
  • Side effects can include a cough, a scratchy throat, and an upset stomach.
  • It may not be a good choice if you have asthma, allergies, or sinus problems.
  • You'll need to puff often to feel an effect.

Nicotine nasal spray

  • It delivers nicotine into your nostrils. This gets it into your system quickly.
  • You will need a prescription.
  • You can use it if you need extra help while you're using the patch or taking quit-tobacco medicines.
  • You can use it when you have cravings, as long as you don't exceed the daily dose.
  • It may irritate your nose and throat. It can also cause other side effects, such as a runny nose, sneezing, or coughing.
  • It can be addictive, so don't use it more often or longer than prescribed.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: November 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
John Hughes MD - Psychiatry

Research Health Topics

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9

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