Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is becoming very popular as more and more people try to kick the habit. NRT includes products like the nicotine patch, nicotine gum and inhalers. But do they really work?

When you want to quit smoking you have to cure yourself of the physical craving for nicotine AND you have to break the psychological habit of smoking cigarettes. With NRT products like Nicoderm, the body is supplied daily with small amounts of nicotine. The dosage is gradually reduced over a period of time until the physical need for cigarettes has gone.

At the same time, the longer you go without a cigarette the more successful you will be in breaking the mental habit as well. The big advantage of NRT over the ‘cold turkey’ method is that the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting are greatly reduced.

NRT remedies have a reasonably good success rate – about twice that of trying to quit on your own. Why is this? One of the ways to quit smoking is by taking fewer cigarettes each day until you reach zero, then you have quit, right? Wrong – you already know this since you have probably tried to quit this way. NRT has the advantage of offering a more structured approach to helping you quit. First of all you cannot continue smoking after you start the program or you will be ingesting too much nicotine. So you have to give up the cigarette ‘habit’. Secondly you have paid out good money for the cure, so there is some motivation to see it through.

After the 12-week program you will have got through the worst part. However the temptation to reach for a cigarette on occasion will still be there. At this point you could turn to other methods like support groups (like Nicotine Anonymous) or hypnosis to keep you from starting again.

One big criticism that is leveled at NRT is that you are continuing to take nicotine. It is true that you could, for example, continue with nicotine gum instead of smoking cigarettes after you have supposedly ‘quit’. This is a real risk that can be reduced by trying one of the alternative stop smoking methods mentioned above (support groups, hypnosis) in addition to NRT.

In conclusion though, it is safe to say that NRT methods do work and they offer the smoker one of the better ways to quit smoking than going it alone. You still need motivation though, since the NRT products by themselves may not be enough.