You may be asking yourself, "why should I use nicotine to quit nicotine?" Here's what you need to know about NRT to decide if it's right for you.
💊 What is Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)?
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is considered first-line treatment in the medical community for most people who want to quit vaping, and it is available over the counter for adults or by prescription for children under age 18. (Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, Harvard Med)
- NRT is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is clinically shown to help people quit smoking - it can even double your chance of quitting successfully. Plus, more and more studies are coming out with clinical support for NRT’s benefits in quitting vaping.
- Over-the-counter NRTs approved for sale to people age 18 and older include:
- Lozenges (also called “nicotine lozenges”). You use these products by dissolving them in your mouth.
- Chewing gum (also called “nicotine gum”). This gum must be chewed according to the labeled instructions to be effective.
- Skin patches (also called “transdermal nicotine patches”). These patches are placed on the skin, similar to how you would apply an adhesive bandage.
🧠 How do I know I won’t get hooked?
- NRT provides nicotine gradually, so it helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and manage cravings without exposing you to toxic chemicals, or giving the “head rush” that keeps you coming back to other nicotine delivery methods like smoking, vaping, or oral nicotine pouches.
- It helps you quit by providing your brain with smaller doses of nicotine over time, without exposing you to the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes or vapes.
- You can think of NRT as a tool that provides you space to focus on building new habits and removing your behavioral dependency (without simultaneously coping with severe withdrawal symptoms the way you would when quitting “cold turkey”). Once you’ve reset your habits and routine, you can gradually reduce your NRT intake. Most people feel they no longer need NRT and stop using it after a few months. Some choose to use NRT for longer, but this is still safer than continuing to use more harmful nicotine delivery methods.
🧑⚕️ Is this safe? What are the health risks?
- YES, this is safe - in fact, the risks and side effects of consuming NRT are very similar to those of caffeine. Doctors and other medical experts (including the CDC & smokefree.gov) recommend NRT as one of the most helpful tools you can use to quit. It’s been FDA approved and heavily studied for over 30 years (the first nicotine gum was used in 1967!), and the research shows that NRT is safe and effective for almost all adults looking to quit.
- Most adults can take NRT without consulting a doctor. Pregnant women, teens, and people with serious health issues (like heart or lung disease) still might be able to use NRT, but should talk to their doctor first.
- It’s very rare to get serious side effects from using NRT. Mild side effects can occur, which usually don’t last long. For Jones nicotine lozenges, possible side effects include a tingling sensation, coughing, gas, heartburn, trouble sleeping, nausea, hiccups, racing heartbeat. Frequently, side effects are caused by incorrect use of NRT—for example, it’s important to allow the lozenges/mints dissolve in your mouth as opposed to chewing or swallowing them. This allows for gradual nicotine delivery which not only makes sure it works to relieve cravings and withdrawal symptoms, but also reduces the amount of nicotine you swallow, which can upset your stomach.
If NRT seems like your cup of tea, learn more about Jones' nicotine lozenges here.