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Nicotine addiction explained

You're gearing up to quit, you're mapping out your plan. But before all that, what's the science behind quitting?

Before you quit, it’s important to understand why you smoke.

NICOTINE ADDICTION + TRIGGERS (emotional and situational) = URGE TO SMOKE

Here we’ll talk about nicotine addiction, but it’s also important to consider your triggers if you want to quit for good. 

Am I addicted?

Usually if you smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day, or have a cigarette in the first half hour after waking up, you have a nicotine addiction that is significant enough to give you some real trouble when quitting. 

If you are addicted to nicotine, you'll get nicotine withdrawals when you quit. Withdrawals start within hours of your last cigarette, and can include strong cravings, irritability, poor concentration and sleeplessness.

Our Quit Plan includes a nicotine addiction test. Give it a try. 

How does nicotine addiction work?

If you're a smoker, your brain is filled with nicotine receptors. These receptors eagerly await incoming nicotine. Think of nicotine as a key, and receptors as little locks. When the nicotine unlocks the nicotine receptors, a feel-good chemical called dopamine is released, giving you a little “hit” or “buzz”. This doesn’t last long. The nicotine soon fades making the receptor eager for more. Cue nicotine withdrawals and cigarette cravings!

Two proven quitting methods really work on the nicotine addiction. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products and quitting medications: 

What are nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products?

NRT provides you with a little bit of nicotine, which locks on to some (but not all) of your nicotine receptors. To put it simply, these products take the edge off cravings. 

NRT such as mouth spray, gum, lozenges and inhalator, give a fast burst of nicotine that can help get past short, strong cravings. NRT patches provide a slow, steady level of nicotine over a long period.

NRT works well on its own, but the best chance of success is to use what’s called combination therapy: patches PLUS a fast-acting form of NRT.

NRT patches are available for a discounted price with a prescription from your GP. 

If you add Quitline to these methods it boosts your chances. Request a Quitline callback.

How do nicotine replacement products work?

What about quitting medications?

If you visit your GP you can get a prescription for a quitting medication such as Champix (varenicline) or Zyban (bupropion). Quitting medication can help to reduce nicotine withdrawals such as cravings, irritability and sleeplessness. If you have a prescription, you can buy these products at a discounted rate. 

Quitting medications will not stop all cravings entirely but they will work on nicotine addiction. This makes it easier for you to focus on habits and routines; stress and smoking; and social situations and alcohol

To boost your chances of quitting for good , use quitting medication with Quitline. Request a Quitline callback. 

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