Addiction to nicotine is one of the hardest things to kick, that you will ever come across if you just try to go cold turkey. Many studies have shown that it is one of the most addictive substances known, as addictive as cocaine or heroin, and most people will become dependent on it soon after they start smoking. When you smoke a cigarette, your body receives an instant rush of nicotine – there is a spike in your nicotine levels which slowly dissipates, over approximately 20 minutes. When your nicotine levels drop below a certain point you will crave another hit, in the form of another cigarette. Nicotine
As a smoker, wanting to become a non-smoker you will need to consider how you will tackle your body’s physical addiction to nicotine and how you will relieve the cravings that can make quitting smoking so difficult. The most important thing in any attempt to quit smoking is your frame of mind, and how you mentally approach quitting. The chances that you will succeed are increased dramatically by having a positive approach to quitting and believing in yourself, if you approach quitting with fear then your chances of success are extremely slim. In some cases, however, people have found great benefit from using a medical aid to assist their confidence in quitting and provide a degree of reassurance. The most common and well known aids to quitting smoking are those that supply and regulate nicotine in the bloodstream. These did not work for me but I think that at the time I relied solely upon the NRT aid to make me quit.
One of the most popular choices is nicotine gum. This is gum that resembles ordinary chewing gum, but of course it contains a regulated dose of nicotine. The reason that some people find nicotine gum effective is because it can replace the cigarette, in providing the nicotine hit in their bloodstream that they are craving, thus relieving the pain and fear that manifest with addiction cravings. The problem that some people run into with the nicotine patch – the other popular nicotine replacement aid – is that a nicotine patch supplies a steady amount of nicotine into your bloodstream. There is no spike, or “hit”, as with a cigarette, and for this reason some people still find themselves craving cigarettes when they use the patch. This has happened to several of my friends and to me, the last time I used a patch about ten years ago. Even though the body is receiving nicotine, it desires the hit, the rush of nicotine that the cigarette provides.
With nicotine gum, you can attempt to replicate this hit without a cigarette and all the other harmful chemicals that come along with it. The gum is not chewed like normal gum, there is a special technique. Rather than chewing like normal gum you only chew until you can taste the nicotine (not very pleasant at first) then you hold the gum in your mouth without chewing until the nicotine subsides. Then give it a few chews every time you want a release of nicotine, as much as you would when taking a drag on a cigarette for a quick nicotine hit. A typical guideline for nicotine gum would be to chew it 3-4 times, until you feel a tingling sensation, at which point you should flatten it and place it between your cheek and gum. Repeat the brief chewing process at occasional intervals as necessary. Under no circumstances should nicotine gum be chewed like ordinary gum, as too much nicotine will be released into your bloodstream at once, you will probably feel sick. I did, yes, I didn’t read the instructions first time.
Nicotine Gum comes in 2mg and 4mg strengths (the 4mg is recommended if you smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day.) It is recommended that you use the gum every 1-2 hours throughout the day, for a period of up to 3 months. The only drawback of nicotine gum is that you cannot drink anything except water for 15 minutes before and during chewing. For this reason nicotine gum isn’t helpful at a bar, which is where many ex-smokers need the most help. Despite this, nicotine gum can be an effective tool — when combined with your determination and frame of mind — in an attempt to quit smoking.