Medicines to Quit Smoking

Medicines to Quit Smoking

By Murlidhar Srivastava

The ill effects of cigarette do not need any elaboration. We know that every cigarette contains nicotine which causes many problems and harmful changes to the body. Besides, cancer of mouth and respiratory organs is well established with the use of cigarettes.Nicotine releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a pleasurable substance, which by stimulating different parts of the brain makes a person feel good, by reducing anxiety and tension. But Nicotine is very addictive. Once a person becomes addicted to it, it becomes extremely difficult to give it up.

There are many withdrawal symptoms like frustration, anxiety; anger, lack of concentration; headaches and a constant crave for smoking that keep a person hooked to it.Fortunately, there are some medicines, which help in quitting by reducing the withdrawal symptoms including cravings for it. The options include Nicotine replacement, Bupropion and Varenicline.

Nicotine Replacement Medicines

Nicotine replacement includes a number of medicines that all contain nicotine. These medicines provide lower levels of nicotine in the blood and are started at the same time as cigarette smoking stops. This treatment usually lasts from two to three months. Nicotine replacement options include lozenges, patches, gum, and sprays.

Nicotine Chewing Gum or Lozenges

These chewing gums or lozenges are gradually absorbed through the lining of your mouth to help relieve cravings. It is generally needed to be used for three months.

Nicotine Patch

Nicotine patches comes in different strengths. You have to wear the patch on your chest or high on your arm. Change to a new patch every 16 or 24 hours.

Nicotine Spray

Spray it into your nose, one or two times per hour. You may need to use nicotine spray for up to six months, but start tapering off from three months.

Non-Nicotine Medicines

Bupropion Hydrochloride

Bupropion hydrochlorid helps to stop smoking by reducing cravings and other withdrawal effects. Bupropion is thought to affect chemicals in the brain that are related to nicotine craving. This drug acts by producing sensations in the brain that are similar to what a person experiences when he consumes nicotine. Various studies have shown a success rate of about 30% at 3 months with this drug.The usual initial dosing is 150 mg orally once a day. It may be increased to 300 mg/day, given as 150 mg twice a day.Some of the popular brands available in India are Zyben from GSk, Bupron from Sun Pharma, Nicotex from Cipla. The cost of one tablet of 150mg is around 40/-. People with a history of epilepsy and other related illnesses are recommended to avoid the drug.

 

Varenicline

This medication is a nicotinic receptor partial agonist. It interferes with those receptors in the brain which nicotine stimulates and partly stimulates the nicotine receptors. This mimics the effects of nicotine to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms are reduced. It also reduces the smoker's sense of satisfaction derived from smoking.Varenicline comes as a tablet in 0.5mg and 1mg strength to be taken by mouth, preferably with food to reduce nausea if any. You should continue smoking as normal in the first week of treatment because it takes about one week or so for Varenicline to start acting properly.You must take Varenicline for the full 12 weeks of treatment, even if you have stopped smoking.  You should not use nicotine replacement products or bupropion while using Varenicline as the combination is not expected to improve your chances of quitting but may result in more side effects.Varenicline is available under brand name Champix by Pfizer in India.