Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) & other medications

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is an effective smoking cessation treatment which works by replacing some of the nicotine smokers usually get from smoking tobacco. It roughly doubles the chances of stopping smoking long-term.

What is NRT?

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is an effective smoking cessation treatment which works by replacing some of the nicotine smokers usually get from smoking tobacco. It roughly doubles the chances of stopping smoking long-term.

NRT has been available on the worldwide market for almost 30 years and is a very safe medication. There are a number of different NRT products available in New Zealand (patch, gum, lozenge, sublingual tablet and inhaler) and three of these (patches, gum, and lozenges) are currently fully subsidised via the Quit Card Scheme. The nicotine inhaler and sublingual tablets are available over the counter (unsubsidised).

NRT can cost as little as $5 for 8 weeks supply from a Quitcard provider.

See the NZ Smoking Cessation Guidelines and NRT safe practice guide for further information about NRT to help people become smokefree

How do you use patches, gum and lozenges?

Patches

Put the patch on a clean, hairless patch of skin. Leave it on for 24 hours before removing. Replace with a new patch on a new area of skin.

Note. It is common for people to get some irritation from the patch. Encourage people to persevere as this will usually resolve within a few hours. A few people are allergive to the glue or latex in the patch. For these people, the gum or lozenge can be used instead.

Some people (but not all) do experience vivid dreams or disrupted sleep while using NRT overnight. If this is disturbing them, it is fine to take the patch off overnight.

Gum and Lozenge

Bite the gum or moisten the lozenge until the slightly peppery flavour is released, then 'park' between the cheek and gum (this is where the nicotine is absorbed). Leave for a few minutes until the taste has faded, then bite or moisten until the taste returns and 'park' it in another position against the inside of the cheek. Repeat this process for about 20-30 minutes, then discard.

Note. It is best not to eat or drink while using the gum or lozenge. If someone is experiencing hiccups or indigestion, this is because too much nicotine is going into the stomach via the saliva. Make sure that they are following the directions above and 'parking' it against the inside of the cheek.

Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms

These are some of the main symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal:

  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Cigarette cravings
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased appetite
  • Depressed mood
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased heart rate

These withdrawal symptoms can be misinterpreted as a deteriorating mental state. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) helps reduce the severity of these symptoms and clarify that whether they are related to the cycle of nicotine addiction and withdrawal.

NRT safe practice guide

NRT safe practice guide. June 2010

NRT Assessment Guide for Quitcard providers & Sample Quitcard

NRT Assessment Guide for Quitcard providers and Sample Quitcard

Other medications that help people go smokefree

There are other medications available on prescription via a doctor that can also be effective in helping people become smokefree: Varenicline (Champix), Buproprion (Zyban) and Nortriptyline (Norpress). These medications are available from a doctor on prescription.

Champix requires special authority for prescription.  Click here for further information about Champix and eligibility for subsidisation of this medication and the NZ Smoking Cessation Guidelines for further information about all three medications.

Click here for further information about Buproprion (Zyban).

Champix® (Varenicline)


Champix is now fully funded for eligible smokers. Champix is a prescription only medicine which means it is only available with a script from your Doctor.

If you have tried to quit smoking with Nicotine Replacement therapy on two separate quit attempts and are still smoking you may qualify for a fully funded course of Champix. 

If you have tried to quit smoking with Zybanor Norpress and are still smoking you may qualify for a fully funded course of Champix.  Talk to your doctor about the criteria for funding.

Champix is a medicine developed specifically as an aid to smoking cessation.  It is different from other ways to quit; it contains no nicotine, but works on the same receptors as nicotine, helping reduce your urge to smoke—and no other smoking cessation treatment has been shown to be more effective.  Champix is not addictive.

For further information, click here