Can Nicotine Gum Really Help You Quit Smoking?

Nicotine gum is a nicotine resin complex - its true name being nicotine polacrilex.  

Nicotine gum is used as an aid for people who are trying to quit smoking. The way to use this gum correctly is to chew it until it softens and produces a tingling sensation and then tuck the gum up in the mouth somewhere until it is needed again. This is usually when the tingling sensation has disappeared. You do this until the nicotine gum has lost its nicotine which is about 30 minutes.

If you decide to use this form of nicotine replacement therapy it is recommended that it is used over a 12 week period and hopefully by then you should be ready to quit. The dosage of the gum you use is dependent on how many cigarettes you smoke every day. Light smokers should use the 2mg and heavy smokers the 4mg.

If following the quit program correctly in the first 1-6 weeks you would chew a piece of gum every 1-2 hours and in weeks 7-9, 1 piece every 2-4 hours and in weeks 10-12, 1 piece every 4-8 hours and so in this way you are gradually reducing your dependence on nicotine.

I have used nicotine gum, it was the first time I attempted to quit smoking. The thing I liked most about it was that the nicotine was delivered into the mouth and therefore absorbed fairly quickly just as the smoke from a cigarette delivers nicotine quickly. It did seem quite satisfying at first but then as the nicotine withdrawal really took hold it became more difficult. This is because nicotine addiction is both psychological and physiological - it controls both the mind and the body.

Also when you take a drag on a cigarette containing 8mg of nicotine you get an instant hit of 8mg of nicotine whereas a piece of 4mg gum will deliver around 3mg of nicotine and it is more gradual. I think the reason why I was not successful quitting using the gum was that at that time in my life I enjoyed a few glasses of wine and the gum and the wine just did not go together. Most smokers who drink alcohol will agree that it is when you have an alcoholic drink that you are most craving a cigarette.

People can become dependent on the gum. I worked with a man back in the early 90's who had used nicotine gum to quit smoking and he was still chewing on the gum 3 years later. He believed that he was better off addicted to gum than being addicted to cigarettes because cigarettes are a carcinogen and nicotine is not. That is true but - nicotine causes other problems in the body and there is still much research continuing into the long term effects of taking nicotine without smoking.

Obviously there is an instant relief to the smoker's lungs as there is with all smoking cessation products but nicotine is a vasoconstrictor which means it constricts your arteries making it harder for the heart to pump blood through the body. Therefore, continual exposure to nicotine can contribute to coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.

You are more at risk of stroke, peptic ulcer disease and oesophageal reflux. Taking nicotine for long periods of time can also cause wounds to heal more slowly and can effect reproduction. The presence of nicotine in the body can also cause the release of stores of fat and cholesterol.

Using nicotine gum can cause certain side effects and it is important to be aware of these.

Firstly if you chew too excessively you can get hiccups and a feeling that throat muscles have tightened.

Swallowing too much saliva containing nicotine can make you feel nauseous. Serious reactions can include; burning and soreness of the mouth, light-headedness, headaches, hiccups, nausea, vomiting and excessive salivation.

Initially gum was quite expensive but in New Zealand and Australia it has been classified as general sale so it is available in supermarkets which has brought the price down considerably.

Related Pages;

The Electronic Cigarette.

The Nicotine Monster.

Nicotine Patches.

Reasons to Quit Smoking.



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