Quit-Smoking Medicines

Your insurance covers quit-smoking medicines!

Under the Affordable Care Act health plans must cover at least one FDA approved quit-smoking medication (Click here to learn more). Call your health insurance company to find out which medicine(s) your health plan covers. If you have MassHealth insurance, all FDA-approved medications below are covered.

People who use FDA-approved quit-smoking medicines are twice as likely to quit for good. Smokers of the Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline who used medication together with telephone counseling were three times more likely to quit than smokers who used neither. Your doctor can help you decide which medicine(s) are best for you. Watch Robert’s story about quitting.

Although many drugs or devices claim to help people quit smoking, the following medicines are the only ones that have been scientifically proven to work.  They are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help people quit smoking and are not addictive:

Over-the Counter (Prescription is needed if covered by insurance)

  1. Nicotine Patchespatch
  • Patches are placed on the skin and give the user a small and steady amount of nicotine.
  • Patches come in different strengths. Be sure to read the package to figure out what strength you should begin with—it depends on how many cigarettes you smoke each day. You will decrease the strength of the patches over time, according to the schedule in the package.
  • Start using the patch on the morning of your quit date and keep it on until the next morning. Place the patch on a clean, dry part of your upper body with not too much body hair. The outside of the upper arm or chest is often the easiest place. Press the patch firmly to your skin for 10-20 seconds.
  • Changing the location of the patch each day can reduce any redness or soreness you may have. If you have trouble sleeping, take the patch off before you go to bed and put a new one on in the morning.
  1. Nicotine Gumgum
  • Nicotine gum slowly decreases the amount of nicotine you receive, the same way the nicotine patch does.  These medicines are known as Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT).
  • Nicotine gum is chewed until it produces a tingling feeling, and then it is placed between your cheek and gums to release a small amount of nicotine. Continue chewing and parking between cheek and gums for 20-30 minutes.
  • Use 2 mg  gum if you smoke less than 25 cigarettes a day or 4 mg if you smoke more.
  • Chew a piece of gum every 1-2 hours that you’re awake. Be sure not to use more than 24 pieces of gum per day.  Over time you can cut down on the number of pieces you have per day.
  • Stay away from caffeine, orange juice, and alcohol for 15 minutes before or while using nicotine gum. These drinks will make the medicine not work as well.
  • Be sure to use these medicines correctly to avoid any side effects that could happen, such as mouth and throat discomfort.
  • People often need to use nicotine gum for up to three months. Follow the timeline in the package your medicine came in.
  1. Nicotine Lozengescropped nicotinelozenge
  • Nicotine lozenges work in a similar way to gum by slowly decreasing the amount of nicotine you receive. Lozenges look like hard candy and release nicotine as the lozenge dissolves in your mouth.
  • Have a lozenge every 1-2 hours that you’re awake. Be sure not to use more than 20 pieces per day if you use 4mg gum, or 30 pieces per day if you use 2mg gum. Over time you can cut down on the number of pieces you have per day.
  • Stay away from caffeine, orange juice, and alcohol for 15 minutes before or while using a lozenge. These drinks will make the medicine not work as well.
  • Be sure to use these medicines correctly to avoid any side effects that could happen, such as mouth and throat discomfort.
  • People often need to use lozenges for up to three months. Follow the timeline in the package your medicine came in.

Prescription

  1. Chantixchantix1-500x375, also known as varencline, is the newest medicine available. It is a pill that helps with cravings and other withdrawal symptoms. It also
    blocks the part of the brain that gives smoking its kick.
  • You should start taking this pill at least one week before quitting smoking.
  • It is not addictive.
  • Your doctor must prescribe it.
  1. Zybanzyban140x170 is also known as Wellbutrin SR or bubropion. It’s a pill that can help with cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.
  • Start taking Zyban about one week before you quit smoking.
  • It is not addictive.
  • Your doctor must prescribe it.
  1. Nicotine Inhaler
  • A nicotine inhaler is a cartridge containing nicotine attached to a mouth piece.cropped inhaler
  • After placing the cartridge into your mouth, breathe in to bring the nicotine into the back of your throat.
  • This is not as commonly used as other forms of nicotine replacement therapy like the patch, gum, or lozenge.  But some people prefer it because the act of using it is like the behavior of smoking.
  • Over time you can cut down on the number of cartridges you use per day.
  1. Nicotine Nasal Sprayblack male nasal spray
  • Nicotine nasal spray is another form of nicotine replacement therapy. It is a pump bottle containing nicotine. This spray goes in your nose, one or two times per hour, when you are awake.
  • It may cause coughing, runny nose or watery eyes during the first week or two but these side effects get better over time.
  • You may need to use nicotine spray for up to six months, but you can use less after you have used it for two or three months.

 

If you don’t feel well while using any quit-smoking medicine, call your doctor or talk with a pharmacist right away. As with all medicines, there may be side effects.

Combination Therapy

Combination therapy for quitting smoking means that a person takes more than one medicine at the same time to increase their chances of quitting for good.  For example, a person could use nicotine patches and nicotine gum together and that combination might help them more than the gum alone.

Combination therapy can include over-the-counter options (such as nicotine patches), a prescription medication, or a combination of prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Your health care provider will help you choose what will work best for you.

You may want to try combination therapy if:

  • You are still having withdrawal symptoms while using one type of quit smoking medicine.
  • You have not been able to quit using only one type of quit smoking medicine.

Using FDA-approved medicines doubles your chance of quitting for good. Using medicines together with coaching support can make you three times as likely to quit for good.

 

Disclosure: There are brand names shown for illustrative purposes only. Not intended as an endorsement.