While the idea of using drugs to combat drug addiction may sound unnatural to some, they are a viable smoking cessation option. Studies have shown that drugs are the most effective solution to combat nicotine addiction, especially for those who have failed with nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and e-cigarettes. Several controlled studies have demonstrated that drugs can double the chances of quitting!
There are numerous drugs in the market which can help in kicking the smoking habit. None of them use nicotine to manage users' dependency. Instead, they target the nicotine receptors in the brain and decrease the sense of gratification obtained from nicotine rush which indirectly reduces withdrawal cravings. Treatments usually commence a couple of weeks before patients stop smoking to familiarise the receptors with the new chemicals.
The three most popular prescription drugs to help quit smoking are:
- Varenicline (brand name: Chantix)
- Bupropion (brand names: Aplenzin, Wellbutrin and Zyban)
- Nortriptyline (brand names: Aventyl, Allegron, Noritren, Pamelor and Sensoval)
Treatment begins between one and four weeks before quitting, and will continue for another 12 weeks after patients have successfully kicked off the habit to reduce the chances of long-term relapse. Common side effects include gassiness, constipation, nausea and insomnia. If you work in small, enclosed spaces, this might not be the drug for you.
Treatment commences two weeks before quitting and can last up to four months. Bupropion is a mild antidepressant, so people suffering from depression and manic-depressive disorders should stay clear of them. Heavy alcohol users, especially those suffering from liver damage, should also avoid this. Side effects are not common, but can include stuffy nose, dry mouth and tongue, headaches and constipation.
Nortriptyline is a legacy tricyclic antidepressant which has found a second lease of life as a nicotine inhibitor. Treatment starts as early as four weeks before quitting. Users are strongly advised against operating machinery or driving in the few hours after taking Nortriptyline. Some of usual side effects include irritability and mood swings, weight gain and blurred vision.
These are complex drugs that could react with other drugs and chemicals. As such, never use any of the drugs above without consulting your doctor in advance.