Type of Medication:  

Nicotine replacement

Medications and Their Commonly Used Brand Names  

Type of medicationBrand name
Nicotine patch/transdermal nicotine Habitrol
NicoDerm CQ
Nicotrol
ProStep
Nicotine gum/lozengesNicorette/Commit
Nicotine nasal sprayNicotrol NS
Nicotine inhalerNicotrol Inhaler

What They Are Prescribed For  

Nicotine replacement products are used to help people stop smoking . These products work best as part of a program that also includes education, counseling, and/or psychological support.

How Nicotine Replacement Products Work  

These products provide nicotine without the cigarette and help to wean your body off of nicotine. The typical effects of withdrawal are reduced as your body adjusts to not smoking. The products provide you with progressively lower doses of nicotine until you stop using them.

  • Nicotine patch releases nicotine through your skin and into your bloodstream.
  • Nicotine gum is chewed slowly, and then stored between the gum and cheek so that the nicotine can be absorbed through the lining of your mouth and into your bloodstream.
  • Nicotine lozenges are allowed to dissolve slowly in your mouth to release nicotine at a slow rate.
  • Nicotine nasal spray contains small doses of nicotine that are sprayed into your nasal passages and absorbed into your bloodstream.
  • Nicotine inhaler contains nicotine that is inhaled through the mouth and is absorbed in the mouth and throat.

Sometimes these products are used in combination, like the patch along with the lozenges, which may help some people stay smoke-free.

Precautions While Taking These Medicines  

Do Not Smoke  

Smoking and using nicotine replacement products can be dangerous because nicotine can build up to toxic levels. Since your goal is to quit smoking entirely, you should not smoke while using a nicotine replacement product. If you still have the urge to smoke, you may need a new strategy to quit.

One study showed that the use of a nicotine replacement product before the actual quit day could be beneficial. Talk to your doctor to find out if this strategy is a good approach for you.

See Your Doctor  

Patches, lozenges, and gums can be purchased over-the-counter, but the nasal spray and inhaler require a prescription. Your doctor will help you determine the appropriate dosage. Also, your doctor can prescribe additional smoking cessation aids and can refer you to a counselor, support group , or other services that may help you quit smoking. People who combine several quitting strategies often have the most success.

Do Not Overuse These Products  

After quitting smoking, the goal is to end your use of the nicotine replacement products as well. Here are guidelines for how long you should use these products:

  • Nicotine patch—Do not use longer than 6-12 weeks.
  • Nicotine gum—Do not chew or use more than 24 pieces a day; do not use longer than 12 weeks.
  • Nicotine lozenges—Do not use more than 20 lozenges a day; do not use longer than 12 weeks.
  • Nicotine nasal spray—Do not use longer than 12 weeks.
  • Nicotine inhaler—Do not use longer than 12 weeks.

If You Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding, Talk to Your Doctor  

If you are pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor to select a safe method to quit smoking. Ask if nicotine replacement products are a good option for you.

Be Careful Around Children  

Children can be seriously harmed by any amount of nicotine. Keep these products, including used patches, away from children.