How to Be More Successful Quitting Smoking

Group therapy session

If you’re thinking about quitting smoking, adding nicotine replacement therapy to your quit plan is a great way to make your effort more successful. Learn more about this therapy and how to get it for free.

The powerful, addictive effects of nicotine make quitting smoking a challenge. There are many methods you can use – ranging from stopping all at once to slowly cutting back. Whatever approach you choose, your chances of success will be greater if you include nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in your effort to quit.

Why Nicotine is Addictive

Nicotine is a stimulant drug found in cigarettes and other tobacco products. When inhaled, nicotine is quickly absorbed into the blood stream. Within seconds nicotine goes to the brain, where it binds with certain receptors. Nicotine then causes the release of dopamine and other chemicals which make you feel good. That’s why most people get into the habit of smoking.

However, nicotine doesn’t last long, which leaves the body wanting more. To satisfy this craving, smokers will light up another cigarette and the cycle repeats itself. People can easily become addicted to the nicotine delivered by smoking.

How Nicotine Replacement Therapy Helps

If you are significantly dependent on nicotine, including NRT in your quit plan can double your chances of being able to successfully stop smoking. Some signs of being dependent on nicotine include:

  • Smoking more than a pack a day
  • Smoking within five minutes of waking up
  • Smoking even when you are sick
  • Waking up to smoke

Using patches, lozenges, gum, and other forms of NRT replaces the nicotine supplied by smoking, without ingesting the other hazardous chemicals contained in cigarettes. Using nicotine replacements can help you feel more comfortable when quitting and reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms. As you continue with your quit plan, the amount of nicotine in the replacement therapy is gradually reduced, helping to wean you off the drug and break the addiction.

Five Forms of NRT

There are five different types of NRT that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration:

  • Patch
  • Gum
  • Lozenges
  • Inhalers
  • Nasal spray

You can buy patches, gum, and lozenges over the counter without a prescription. Inhalers and nasal spray are only available with a prescription. If you need to, you can use more than one type of NRT at the same time. For example, using a patch on your arm gives you a steady dose of nicotine throughout the day, while chewing gum or sucking a lozenge provides a quick boost to get you through a craving. There are also two prescription medications available (bupropion and varenicline) that can help you quit smoking. If you are interested in learning about those, please talk to your doctor.

How to Get Free NRT

Blue Cross members with Vermont Blue Rx™ pharmacy benefits can get up to a 180-day supply of NRT at no cost when using a pharmacy in our network. We will also cover prescription drugs that help you quit smoking. Members must have a prescription from their doctor to receive these benefits.

Vermonters who want to quit can order free nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges online through the 802Quits program. 802Quits also provides coaching to help tobacco users quit and this assistance includes help with selecting and ordering NRT.

Vermont’s Medicaid program covers of all forms of NRT for people who qualify for assistance. 

Medicare does not cover over-the-counter forms of NRT, but Medicare drug plans may cover the prescription medications that help with quitting smoking.

We hope you’ll take advantage of the support that’s available and kick the smoking habit, so you can live a better and healthier life.