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Beating your smoking addiction 

Stop Smoking

If you want to stop smoking, several different treatments are available from shops, pharmacies and on prescription to help you beat your addiction and reduce withdrawal symptoms.

The best treatment for you will depend on your personal preference, your age, whether you’re pregnant or breast-feeding and any medical conditions you have. Speak to your GP or an NHS stop smoking adviser for advice.

Research has shown that all these methods can be effective. Importantly, evidence shows that they are most effective if used alongside support from an NHS stop smoking service.

The treatments available are outlined below.

Nicotine

replacement therapy (NRT)

The main reason that people smoke is because they are addicted to nicotine.

NRT is a medication that provides you with a low level of nicotine, without the tar, carbon monoxide and other poisonous chemicals present in tobacco smoke.

It can help reduce un-pleasant withdrawal effects, such as bad moods and cravings, which may occur when you stop smoking.

Where to get it and how to use it

NRT can be bought from pharmacies and some shops. It’s also available on pres-cription from a doctor or NHS stop smoking service.

It’s available as skin pat-ches, chewing gum, inhalators (which look like plastic cigarettes), tablets, oral strips and lozenges or nasal and mouth spray.

Patches release nicotine slowly. Some are worn all the time and some should be taken off at night. Inhalators, gum and sprays act more quickly and may be better for alleviating cravings.

There’s no evidence that any single type of NRT is more effective than another. But there is good evidence to show that using a combination of NRT is more effective than using a single product.

Often the best way to use NRT is to combine a patch with a faster acting form such as gum, inhalator or nasal spray.

Treatment with NRT usually lasts 8-12 weeks, before you gradually reduce the dose and eventually stop.

Varenicline (Champix)

Varenicline (brand name Champix) is a medication that works in two ways. It reduces cravings for nicotine like NRT, but it also blocks the rewarding and reinforcing effects of smoking.

Evidence suggests it’s the most effective medication for helping people stop smoking.

Where to get it and how to use it

Varenicline is only available on prescription, so you’ll usually need to see your GP or contact an NHS stop smoking service to get it.

It’s taken as one to two tablets a day. You should start taking it a week or two before you try to quit.

A course of treatment usually lasts around 12 weeks, but it can be continued for longer if nece-ssary.