Nicotine withdrawal treatment

Nicotine withdrawal treatment consists of medications and/or counseling. We review treatment options for acute nicotine withdrawal and more long term nicotine dependence treatment here.

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Why not make quitting nicotine easier?

You can! Although most nicotine users quit on their own, many treatments have been PROVEN to be effective for people who want to quit nicotine for good. We take a look at the common and frequently recommended treatments for nicotine withdrawal and dependence here. And invite you to add your comments, questions and feedback at the end.

Addressing nicotine withdrawal AND dependence simultaneously

Nicotine withdrawal occurs as the body adjusts to chemical imbalance as you take nicotine from the system. Withdrawal is an acute state of symptoms that lasts for days to weeks to months. But underlying withdrawal is nicotine dependence, which is a chronic relapsing disease. Tobacco and nicotine dependence often require multiple attempts to quit. The following effective treatments can significantly increase rates of long term abstinence and help with the acute symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, as well.

Recommended nicotine withdrawal treatments

A number of treatments have been proven effective for treating nicotine withdrawal and dependence.  However, one principle should be considered for all nicotine treatments.  The combination of medication and counseling is more effective for nicotine cessation than either medication or counseling alone.

Alternative medicine – Although scientific results are not documents, positive expectations about outcomes may make acupuncture, hypnosis, and bio feedback alternative treatments for nicotine withdrawal. Electrostimulation or laser acupuncture treatments for tobacco use may also help those who are open to alternative medicine.

Brief clinical interventions – During a doctor’s office visit, you can ask your doctor to take 10 minutes to give you advice and assistance about quitting. This information helps you prepare and get support for nicotine withdrawal.

Counseling – Because addiction is a physical and mental issue, individual, group, or telephone counseling can truly help you as you go through withdrawal and abstinence from nicotine. Counseling effectiveness increases with treatment intensity. And person-to-person treatment delivered for four or more sessions appears especially effective in increasing abstinence rates. Two components are especially important when considering counseling:

1. Practical counseling in problem solving/skills training

2. Social support delivered as part of treatment

Contingency management – The use of incentives, either financial or privilege based, can help you kick the nicotine habit. Contingency management for smoking cessation rewards positive behavioral changes while undesired behaviors are given immediate consequences. The result is an easier time quitting, while feeling recognized and rewarded for a job well done.

Medications – Many effective medicines can help treat tobacco dependence. The two main types of nicotine withdrawal and dependence medications are:

1. Nicotine replacement products – This nicotine treatment options are available over-the-counter and in prescription form. These include the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, inhaler, and nasal spray. Strong and consistent evidence shows that nicotine replacement products can help relieve nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

2. Prescription non-nicotine medications – In addition, cravings and withdrawal symptoms can be relieved by the prescription medications bupropion and varenicline. These non-nicotine medicines can increase long tern nicotine abstinence. Possible mechanisms of action for bupropion include blocking reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain and blocking of nicotinic acetylcholinergic receptors. Varenicline’s mechanism of action is probably caused by its partial nicotine receptor agonist and antagonist effects. The result is decreased craving and increased positive outlook.

Self-help – Tailored self-help materials such as brochures, books and quizzes (both print and web based) can be effective in staying off nicotine. You can focus learning problem solving techniques and identifying triggers and mental patterns behind use of nicotine in order to prevent slips and relapse.

Questions about nicotine withdrawal treatment

Do you still have questions about treating nicotine withdrawal? Please let us know. We are happy to answer all legitimate concerns with a personal and prompt reply.

Reference sources: Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence
CDC Smoking Cessation Tips



About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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