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What are the Disadvantages of Nicotine Replacement Therapy?

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Updated April 16, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: What are the Disadvantages of Nicotine Replacement Therapy?
Answer: Nicotine replacement therapy (NRTs) use nicotine, the addictive ingredient in tobacco products, to help people quit smoking. This gives ex-smokers the benefit of weaning themselves off of nicotine in a gradual fashion, but it also has the disadvantage of the risk for misuse. The nicotine in NRTs can cause this type of quit aid to become habit-forming, so it is imperative to use NRTs exactly as recommended by the manufacturer.

Nicotine replacement therapy comes in a variety of forms, from a skin patch to gum/lozenges, as well as inhalers and nicotine nasal spray.

Until recent years, NRTs were available only by prescription. However, now all but the nicotine inhaler and nicotine nasal spray can be purchased over the counter.

If you decide to use nicotine replacement therapy to help you quit smoking, consider making the nicotine patch your first choice. The patch is applied once a day, significantly reducing the risk of inappropriate use. All other NRTs are used on an as-needed basis, which can be a challenge to control for the person who is recovering from nicotine addiction.

Should I Avoid Using NRTs Entirely?

No, just use care with the NRT you choose so that it doesn't become habit-forming. Follow the manufacturer's directions carefully, tapering down and stopping use entirely in the time recommended.

Nicotine replacement therapy has helped many thousands of smokers kick the habit successfully, including myself. I used the nicotine patch and the assistance of online support. That, combined with education about what to expect from smoking cessation, helped me build the mindset I needed to quit smoking for the long term.

Quitting tobacco isn't easy, and no two people are alike. Having the wide variety of quit aids available that we do today ultimately means more lives saved.

Check in with your doctor to discuss which quit aid might work best for you, and then get started. There's no time like the present to start making the changes you dream of a reality in your life!

NRT FAQ Index | NRTs Prescription vs OTC: What's the Difference?

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  6. Disadvantages of Nicotine Replacement Therapy - What Are the Disadvantages of Nicotine Replacement Therapy

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