How Effective Are Over-The-Counter NRT Products?

Nicorette Nicotine GumWe nicotine addicts have been lied to by so many for so long that it’s getting hard to believe. One of the biggest lies of all is that few successful quitters are quitting cold turkey, that you have to be a superhero to do so, or that it requires a Herculean effort to succeed.

To the contrary, even today with chewers being drowned in a sea of magic cures that include NRT products, Zyban, Wellbutrin, magic herbs, the traveling hypnotist, acupuncture, and every quick fix magic cure ever devised by man, the American Cancer Society’s 2003 Cancer Facts and Figures report asserts that 91.2% of all successful long-term quitters quit entirely on their own. When it comes to magic quitting cures there is only one cure with the potential to keep you 100% nicotine free for the remainder of your life and it is “you!”

The websites and commercials of those marketing nicotine replacement therapy products (the nicotine patch, gum, chewer and lozenge) are not advertising the fact that a March 2003 study, published in Tobacco Control, combined and average all over-the-counter NRT patch and gum studies and found that 93% had relapsed to chewing within six-months. It’s even worse as a November 2003 study (also published in Tobacco Control) found that as many as 7% of nicotine gum quitters and 2% of patch users may still be dependent upon the gum or patch at six months.

Nor will those with a financial stake tell you that if you’ve already tried quitting with the nicotine patch once that they have known since as early as 1993 that your odds during a second or subsequent attempt drop to almost zero (see Tonnesen, Addiction, April 1993). Also don’t expect them to reveal that 36.6% of all current nicotine gum users are chronic long-term users of greater than 6 months (see Shiffman, Addiction, Jan. 2004), but why?

The hypnotist and acupuncturist will never tell you that governments around the world (including the U.S.) have reviewed all credible studies and found no evidence whatsoever that either is effective in helping dippers quit. Why? They’re not telling you the truth because they know just how badly you want to break free and know you’re willing to pay hard earned money for a quick and painless magic cure.

If you are able to get your brain’s dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin pathways adjusted to again functioning without nicotine while continuing to use it, be proud of yourself because you are in fact a superhero. But if you are among the 93 out of 100 first time NRT users who quickly relapse, or among the nearly 100% who gave the patch a second try and again fell flat on your face, then don’t get discouraged as you are in some wonderful company.

There is only one quitting aid that can 100% guarantee success and it is you!

© Joel Spitzer 2005
The original article has been modified to be more relevant for dippers and chewers.

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