The Basics

How does nicotine replacement therapy work?

Nicotine is not the dangerous component of smoking. It’s the other chemicals in cigarette smoke that cause heart disease and cancer. The most important thing to know is that quitting smoking is what improves health, not quitting nicotine. Nicotine can have positive effects when not attached to tobacco. Nicotine improves fine motor skills, attention, working memory, and even on-demand memory performance.

Many people go back to smoking because they miss the benefits of nicotine. It is no wonder that many people relapse in the first 8 days after quitting. They not only miss smoking but they miss the sharpness that smoking gave them. Nicotine will improve your concentration and help you stay the course.

Nicotine replacements also reduce the cravings that come with quitting cold turkey. This uncouples the addictive part of smoking with the dangerous part of smoking (the chemicals in the smoke). NRT allows smokers to break the habits or “ritual” of smoking without getting the symptoms that come with nicotine withdrawal (irritability, distraction, etc.).

That is why nicotine gum is so helpful, especially in the early days, and why so many doctors recommend using it on a consistent basis.

How long does a piece of gum last?

Each piece lasts about 30 minutes.

How much nicotine is in each piece of gum?

Depending on how much you smoke, your physician will make a recommendation. You will either start on 2mg or 4mg of nicotine per piece. Generally, if you smoke within 30 minutes of waking in the morning, your dosage will be 4mg.

How to use

Some people use the gum when needed. However, most people do best using one piece every 1 to 2 hours on a schedule in the first 6 weeks but never exceeding 24 pieces a day.

Nicotine gum is medicine and should not be chewed the way you would chew a stick of spearmint. The gum should be at room temperature but it is good to warm the gum in your mouth for a minute before you start to chew. The gum should be chewed slowly until you taste a flavor or feel a “peppery” sensation. This may take 10 to 20 chews. Then, the gum should be moved to a place between the gums and cheek.

That “peppery” feeling will start to disappear. When that happens (after a few minutes), the gum should be chewed slowly to release more nicotine (maybe 3 or 4 chews) and parked in the cheek. This should be repeated for about 30 minutes or until it loses its ability to cause the sensation.

The Gum

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Other quitting options

The Quit Kit

Rx + Gum

The Rx

The Rx

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