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What medications can help me quit smoking?

Frank T. Leone, MD
Pulmonary Disease

There are several FDA-approved medications available to help you quit smoking. These include:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
  • Transdermal nicotine therapy
  • Nicotine gum
  • Nicotine lozenge
  • Nicotine nasal spray
  • Nicotine inhaler
  • Bupropion (Zyban)
  • Varenicline (Chantix)
Leigh Vinocur, MD
Emergency Medicine
You don’t have to go it alone -- cold turkey -- anymore. There are new medications on the market that help with the biochemistry related to addiction. Bupropion is an antidepressant discovered accidentally for nicotine addiction. It was found that depressed patients taking this medication also ended up quitting smoking even when they did not intend to do so. While the exact mechanism of how it works is not completely understood, many patients report their cravings are diminished and smoking had lost its appeal.
 
Another medication is called vareniciline. It works by binding the receptors in the brain and it prevents the nicotine from attaching there. Once this drug binds to the nicotine receptors, it releases much smaller amounts of dopamine; therefore, it calms craving. However, if you try to smoke, you get no pleasurable surge in dopamine release.

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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.