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Proper medication use can help tobacco users overcome nicotine addiction


Thu, Aug 11th 2022 07:00 am

New York State Smokers' Quitline provides medications and guidance for effective use to help people become tobacco-free

Guest Editorial by the New York State Smokers' Quitline

The New York State Smokers' Quitline reminds New York state residents that cigarettes and vape products are highly addictive. To overcome this addiction, the use of FDA-approved medications known as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can help alleviate physical cravings as part of a tobacco-free journey. As is the case with all medications, NRT is most effective when used as directed.

"The FDA includes seven types of NRT medications, each with its own unique method of delivery," said Dr. Martin Mahoney, the Quitline's medical director and professor of oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo. "Sometimes, tobacco and vape product users need to try different NRT medications to determine what works best for them. Combining medications can be quite effective to tackle both short-term and long-term urges. NRT is very safe to use, but I recommend tobacco users first consult their health care professionals and the Quitline's knowledgeable Quit Coaches when beginning a quit-journey."

The Quitline provides coaching support seven days a week via phone at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487), through text messaging and online at nysmokefree.com. Most participants are eligible to receive a free starter kit of NRT medications shipped to their home address, usually consisting of nicotine patches and/or nicotine gum or lozenges.

The Quitline's Quit Coaches found sometimes people use NRT too sparingly or, conversely, as a permanent substitute for cigarettes and/or vape products. When used as directed, NRT medications should be eventually weaned once the person transitions to a tobacco-free lifestyle. Continued use of cigarette and/or vape products while using NRT will essentially render the medication treatment ineffective.

Some of the Quit Coaches also offer the following considerations for effective NRT use:

"Rotate where you place the nicotine patch each day to avoid skin irritation – place it below your neck, above your waist and away from your heart,” Effie said.

"Make a plan to decrease your nicotine gum usage each week, and use the gum to control urges rather than to replace past smoking/vaping routines,” Darlene said.

"Avoid acidic substances such as coffee, soft drinks and juices for 15 minutes prior to and during nicotine gum use, in order to improve the medication absorption,” Ange said.

"When using the nicotine lozenge, remember not to chew or suck on it – rather, place it between your gum and cheek,” Caitlin said.

NRT is an important part of a quit-journey; additional resources for behavior modifications will increase the odds for prolonged success in becoming tobacco-free. The Quitline encourages all participants to develop a comprehensive quit-plan in consultation with their health care professionals, and to participate in a local cessation program (if available). While no one approach works best to become tobacco-free, proven FDA-approved NRT medications can make the quit-process easier.

Overcoming nicotine addiction, despite its challenges, is one of the best things one can do to live a happier, healthier and longer life.

About the New York State Smokers' Quitline

The New York State Smokers' Quitline is a service of the New York State Department of Health and based at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. It has responded to nearly 3 million calls since it began operating in 2000. The Quitline encourages tobacco and vape product users to talk with their health care professionals and access available Medicaid or health insurance benefits for medication support. All New York state residents can call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) for coaching and resources, free of charge, seven days a week beginning at 9 a.m. Visit www.nysmokefree.com for more information.

About Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer's grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in upstate New York. Learn more at www.roswellpark.org, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or [email protected].

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