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Smoking and Tobacco

Addiction to Nicotine Gum

06/28/2002

Question:

I have been using nicotine gum since December 1, 2001 (over 7 months). I am addicted to the gum -- and was considering using the patch to get off the gum. I`m concerned I`ll become addicted to the patch, as well. Any thoughts?

Answer:

Fortunately, it`s much safer to be addicted to nicotine gum or patch than cigarettes. According to a recent medical article, `Some studies have reported that 5% to 20% of patients prescribed the polacrilex nicotine gum for smoking cessation continue to use the gum for 1 year or more. Although abrupt cessation of use of the gum can produce withdrawal symptoms similar to but milder than that from cigarettes, the use of the gum can be safely eliminated by gradual reduction. Long-term use may represent patient`s desire to extend duration of therapy for fear of returning to smoking. Abrupt cessation of the transdermal nicotine patch does not appear to be associated with withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine nasal spray seems to have a higher potential for long-term use than the gum as evidenced by findings from clinical trials that up to 43% of those abstinent at 1 year were still using the spray at 1 year. Gradual dose reduction (over 1-3 months) should be implemented for those using the spray beyond 3 months. Long-term use did not appear to be a problem for the nicotine inhaler as all patients were able to discontinue inhaler use within 6 months in clinical trials.`

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Response by:

Jerry   Friemoth, MD Jerry Friemoth, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati