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How long will I need medication for smoking addiction?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Medication can help you overcome smoking addiction, but you don't need to take it for the rest of your life. For instance, if your doctor prescribes bupropion (Zyban), you will probably use it for six months to a year. Most people take a newer antismoking medication, varenicline (Chantix), for three to six months.

Nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) helps people who quit smoking cope with withdrawal symptoms. There are several different delivery systems for nicotine replacement, including skin patches, lozenges, chewing gum, nasal spray and inhalers. As a rule, these products should be used for 12 weeks or less, though your doctor may advise you to use NRT longer.

This depends on which medication you are taking. Most nicotine replacement therapies, such as gum, lozenge, inhaler, or transdermal patch, are used for up to 6 weeks. Varenicline (Chantix) is a pill that you may need to take for up to 12 weeks, and bupropion (Zyban) may be needed for up to 6 months. It is important to consult your healthcare provider about when and for how long to take these medications.
Robert S. Kaufmann, MD
Internal Medicine

It depends. Chantix is indicated you should take it for at least 3 months. Chantix basically tells your brain  that you do not want to smoke, in my opinion it is the best product out there. You need to take the Chantix on a daily basis and do not try to cut it short, because you have to truly get over the addiction. A lot of patients will take the Chantix for a month and feel like they do not feel the craving and then they will stop it and then they will start back having the feelings. I really feel strongly that you need to take it for the full 3 months and then you can still use it some after that. There is no contraindications to taking it more than 3 months. Whatever it takes to tell your brain that you don't want to smoke is what you need to do.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Medication use for smoking addiction relief is very individualized.  I personally prescribe it for 6 months, both the bupropion pill commonly, and nicotine patches, with a decreased dosage of each at 2 months, and again at 4 months.  Many other people prescribe these for just 1 or 2 months, but I find longer long-term success rate if we do these things, plus walking 30 minutes a day, plus a support group for at least 6 months.  The walking 30 minutes a day is a key component of it too.
Joseph I. Miller Jr., MD
Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular)
Many individuals need medication for 3 to 6 months to help stop smoking. The average person quits 9 times over their lifetime.  Failure does not really mean failure and patients should have ongoing discussions with their physicians about needing medications more than once, and not be discouraged if they cannot maintain abstinence.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.