Overcoming Challenges in NRT: Dealing with Relapse and Side Effects
Tobacco cessation is one of the most challenging journeys you will take. It requires perseverance, determination, and a very strong willpower. Many individuals turn to Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to boost their efforts to quit tobacco.
NRT works as a safer medium to deliver nicotine to the body but without harmful chemicals. However, NRT, like any other treatment, comes with its own challenges. In this blog, we will understand how to deal with hurdles we might face while using NRT.
What is NRT?
Nicotine Replacement Therapy, or NRT, is a form of treatment that gives your body nicotine but without the other toxic chemicals found in cigarettes or gutka. Using NRT can help with the withdrawal symptoms and nasty cravings associated with tobacco cessation.
NRT deals with the physical aspect of your tobacco dependence. However, if you want to get the most out of NRT, you need to ensure you deal with the psychological aspect of your dependence too. Clubbing NRT with a quit program or behavioural therapy, at least in the initial months of your quitting journey, can improve your chances of success immensely.
NRT is available in the below-mentioned forms:
· Nasal Spray
Dealing with Side effects
Every coin has a flip side, and so does NRT. Though it is a very effective aid for tobacco cessation, NRT may be accompanied by side effects. But hold on! We have some simple tips to help you deal with the discomfort.
Gum: Nicotine gum can be bought over the counter and does not need a prescription. Bas chemist tak jaane ki takleef utha lo. A fast-acting replacement, the gum works well for those suddenly strong cravings. Possible side effects of nicotine gum might be throat irritation, bad taste, mouth sores, racing heartbeat, hiccups, jaw discomfort, and nausea.
If you have mouth soreness, nausea, or gale mein khich-khich, it might be because you are getting too much nicotine too soon. Stomach discomfort and hiccups are usually due to swallowing or improper use of the gum. You can either choose a lower dose, wait longer between doses, or ensure you are chewing the gum correctly. If chewing gum gives you a racing heart, stop using it and consult your doctor.
Patch: Nicotine patches can also be bought with or without a prescription. Possible side effects might include skin irritation, dizziness, unusual dreams, muscle ache, nausea, and headache.
In such cases, you can try a different brand, use a patch with a lower dose, or use another form of NRT.
Only available through prescription, the nasal spray delivers the nicotine and relieves withdrawal symptoms rapidly. Side effects may include nasal irritation, watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing. It might also lead to nervousness and a racing heart.
If you have asthma, allergies, or sinus, you can consider another form of NRT. A high dose of nicotine can possibly lead to a racing heart, in which case you can speak to your physician and lower the dose.
Lozenges can be bought without a prescription. You might experience nausea, sore throat, hiccups, gas, heartburn, headaches, or a racing heart.
Avoid using more than 1 lozenge at a time to prevent hiccups, heartburn, and nausea. If you experience a racing heart, consult your physician before you try it again.
Nicotine inhalers can cause coughing, upset stomach, runny nose, mouth irritation, and a racing heart.
A racing heart might be due to a high dose of nicotine. Stop using the inhaler and see if you feel better. You can consult your physician if you experience this side effect. This type of NRT, if used, must be kept away from children and pets because the used cartridge also has a significant amount of nicotine in it.
Dealing With a Relapse
Yaar, control nahi hua. Ab kya? You're not sure how the slip-up happened, but it did. And now you have the chance to make a choice- get back to your old ways or move on.
Don't beat yourself up over a relapse. Quitting tobacco is one of the toughest challenges you can face- all thanks to the nicotine dependency your body experiences. You might even need more than one attempt to kick tobacco out of your life for good. Use the experience to reaffirm your goal to go tobacco-free and live a healthier life.
A relapse can be demoralising, but remind yourself that quitting tobacco is a process, not a one-day deal.
If you have had a relapse, here are a few tips to help you navigate through the experience:
· Use the experience as a lesson. Think of the triggers that caused you to smoke/chew again. Work on dealing with those triggers so that you are prepared the next time.
· Ask for help. Reach out to your family, mates, or support groups and share your experience. Connect with others who have faced similar setbacks and can offer you advice, encouragement, and renewed motivation to continue your journey.
· Revisit your quit plan. Reassess your plan and switch it up based on the lessons you learned from your relapse. You can try applying new coping mechanisms, consider additional support, or tweak your NRT dosage if needed.
"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." - Thomas A. Edison
Overcoming challenges like side effects and relapses is an unavoidable part of your quitting journey. However, the key is to remain positive, set achievable goals, and don't forget to celebrate the small victories along the way.