Medical help for smokers trying to kick the habit

The best way to quit smoking, it has been said, is never to start at all. It is known that smoking is addictive and while one may innocently begin with one cigarette a day, by the end of the year, the number of cigarettes consumed is most likely to have increased.

This is what happens with addictive substances and nicotine contained in cigarettes is no different.

Unfortunately, quitting is not simple because the body produces withdrawal symptoms if one discontinues the substance abruptly. These withdrawal symptoms could be tremors, shaking and others, all unpleasant.

Apart from joining a social support group, there are also drugs or substances formulated to help people quit smoking. Some of these formulations contain nicotine although in moderate quantities.

However, one has to stop smoking altogether before starting the therapy and adjustments could be made depending on medical aice. If quitting is not possible, some nicotine preparations are licenced for use as a part of a programme to reduce smoking before stopping completely.

On the market for those not heavily dependent on nicotine, are nicotine lozenges taken when one feels the urge to smoke. It is taken between one and 20 lozenges a day for three months to a maximum treatment period of six months.
There are also nicotine patches applied to dry non-hairy skin and removed after 24 hours and then replaced on a different area.

The dose for those that smoke less than 20 cigarettes daily may vary from those consuming more than 20 cigarettes. There is dose reduction every three to four weeks, with review after three months if abstinence is not achieved.

There are also nicotine tablets, chewing gum, nasal sprays and inhalator. The inhalator has cartridges and these are said to psychologically soothe the smoker. Six to 12 cartridges are prescribed daily for up to eight weeks, with reduced frequency with the target being abstinence by three months and maximum treatment for six months.

Other treatment substances that do not contain nicotine are Bupropion whose mode of action is unknown and Varenicline which mimics the effects of nicotine in the body.

These medicines are only available on prescription and the doctorharmacist has to make several considerations before getting one started.

The writer is a pharmacist

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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