Here’s something to think about.
Nicotine is very addictive. It makes your brain release ‘feel good’ chemicals. The problem is, these wear off quickly and reduce over time, making you smoke more and more to get the same feeling.
Nicotine is what causes your addiction to tobacco.
When you inhale smoke, the nicotine is absorbed into your bloodstream. It then travels to all parts of your body, including your brain. That’s when you get the release of ‘feel good’ chemicals.
But those ‘feel good’ effects begin to wear off as your body gets used to the nicotine, meaning you need to get more nicotine to have the same effect – just like any other type of addictive drug. It’s a very powerful chemical and tobacco is a leading cause of preventable death and disease.
Managing nicotine addiction and withdrawals
The strength of your addiction, and the difficulty of breaking it, depends on how much you’re smoking. When you go without cigarettes, it’s common to feel temporary nicotine withdrawal symptoms like strong cravings, irritability, trouble concentrating, restlessness, anxiety, low mood or trouble sleeping.
Using medications to quit smoking
If you have a nicotine addiction, using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or quitting medication can make a real difference. They help balance out your nicotine levels and reduce cravings, making it easier to cope with withdrawal symptoms.
There are two types of medically-approved aids to quitting in Australia:
- prescription medications designed to be used to stop smoking; Champix (varenicline) and Zyban (bupropion).
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
NRT is the collective name for a range of products containing small amounts of nicotine that are designed to help people stop smoking. These include nicotine gum, patches, inhaler and lozenges. These help smokers quit by replacing some of the nicotine they normally get from their cigarettes with nicotine absorbed through the skin (patches) or the lining of the mouth and gum (lozenges). This eases some of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as cravings and irritability.
Using NRT correctly increases your chance of success. So ask your pharmacist or phone the Quitline – 13 78 48.
Prescription medications designed to stop smoking
Champix (varenicline) and Zyban (bupropion) can help with physical withdrawal symptoms such as nicotine cravings. Talk to your doctor about the best option for you.
Note: No medication will work effectively unless you are committed to quitting.
Champix (also known as varenicline) reduces cravings and the negative effects of nicotine withdrawal. It comes in tablet form and works by affecting the receptors for nicotine in the brain. This produces an effect that relieves the craving and withdrawal symptoms you can get when you stop smoking. At the same time, Champix prevents any nicotine inhaled in tobacco smoke from having a rewarding and enjoyable effect.
For more information about Champix, visit www.quit.org.au/articles/quitting-medication-champix/.
Zyban (also known as bupropion) affects areas of the brain that influence nicotine withdrawal. Using Zyban can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms when you quit, such as cravings, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Zyban may also make smoking seem less rewarding.
For more information about Zyban, visit www.quit.org.au/articles/quitting-medication-zyban/.
Help with cost of medication
Champix and Zyban and some NRT products are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) at a lower price for all people wishing to quit smoking.
In order to get a script for either NRT or Champix, you must see your doctor and seek assistance to quit by contacting either the Quitline or a similar support agency.
Talk to your doctor about options.
- Think you’re ready to quit? Make a plan.