A tailored treatment plan

Understand the addiction and coping mechanics

Behavioural Addiction
  • The Plan: It is important keep motivated to quit smoking. Studies have shown that if you have prepared a plan this will help remind you of the benefits of quitting as you proceed with your quit attempt.
  • When you smoke, you will have a hand to mouth habit; up to 500 times a day. When you quit you will miss this behaviour. Patients often find e-cigarettes help.
Physiological addiction
  • Your body is addicted to nicotine, which is the most addictive substance known to man. This is because nicotine reaches your brain within 10 seconds. When you quit, the receptors in you brain are searching for nicotine and if they don’t receive it, you will experience  withdrawal symptoms, such as feeling  irritable, frustrated and restless.
  • The good news is that nicotine replacement therapy will minimise these feelings. The options we will discuss with you are e-cigarettes, nicotine medications such as the patch or Champix a prescription medicine available from your GP or some pharmacies.

Your treatment plan:

Following a discussion of your reasons for quitting and why you are addicted to cigarettes, we, together, prepare your own personalised treatment plan, including: 

  • A quit date
  • Nicotine replacement treatment
  • Potential use of E-Cigarette
  • Advice regarding how to use the medications during the day, to reduce the number of urges to smoke
  • Your ongoing support including schedule of weekly or fortnightly appointments, email and phone support information. 

What are the alternative treatments for you?

There are several different treatments available to help you beat your addiction and reduce withdrawal symptoms.

This outline follows the recommendations from NHS.

The best treatment for you will depend on your personal preference, your age, whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and any medical conditions you have.

Research has shown that all these methods can be effective. Importantly, evidence shows that they are most effective if used alongside support from a stop smoking advisor.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

The main reason that people smoke is because they are addicted to nicotine.

NRT is a medication, like e-cigarettes provides you with a low level of nicotine, without the tar, carbon monoxide and other poisonous chemicals present in tobacco smoke.

It can help reduce unpleasant withdrawal effects, such as bad moods and cravings, which may occur when you stop smoking.

Where to get it and how to use it

You can buy NRT preparation on-line as part of our service or visit your GP or local pharmacy for an NHS prescription. We can advise you which of your local pharmacies can help you.

It’s available as:

  • skin patches
  • chewing gum
  • inhalators (which look like plastic cigarettes)
  • tablets and lozenges
  • nasal and mouth spray

Patches release nicotine slowly. Some are worn all the time and some should be taken off at night. Inhalators, gum and sprays act more quickly and may be better for helping with cravings.

There’s no evidence that any single type of NRT is more effective than another. But there is good evidence to show that using a combination of NRT is more effective than using a single product.

Often the best way to use NRT is to combine a patch with a faster acting form such as an e-cigarette.

Treatment with NRT usually lasts 8-12 weeks, before you gradually reduce the dose and eventually stop.

Who can use it

Most people are able to use NRT, including:

  • adults and children over 12 years of age – although children under 18 should not use the lozenges without getting medical advice first
  • pregnant women and breast feeding women  – it is best to consult with your doctor, who  may suggest NRT if they think it would help you quit
  • It is advisable to get medical advice from your GP  first, for if you have kidney or liver problems, or you’ve recently had a heart attack or stroke.

Possible side effects

Side effects of NRT can include:

  • skin irritation when using patches
  • irritation of nose, throat or eyes when using a nasal spray
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia), sometimes with vivid dreams
  • an upset stomach
  • dizziness
  • headaches

Any side effects are usually mild. But if they’re particularly troublesome, your advisor can alter the dose or type of NRT.

Varenicline (Champix)

Varenicline (brand name Champix) is a medicine that works in 2 ways. It reduces cravings for nicotine like NRT, but it also blocks the rewarding and reinforcing effects of smoking.

Evidence suggests it’s the most effective medicine for helping people stop smoking.

Where to get it and how to use it

Varenicline is only available on prescription, so you’ll usually need to see your GP or contact an NHS stop smoking service to get it.

Who can use it

Varenicline is safe for most people to take, although there are some situations when it’s not recommended.

For example, it’s not suitable for:

  • children under 18 years of age
  • women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • people with severe kidney problems

Possible side effects

Side effects of varenicline can include:

  • feeling and being sick
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia), sometimes with vivid dreams
  • dry mouth
  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • headaches
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
E-cigarettes

E-cigarettes are the most popular method of quitting. An e-cigarette is an electronic device that delivers nicotine in a vapour. This allows you to inhale nicotine without most of the harmful effects of smoking, as the vapour contains no tar or carbon monoxide.

We can advise you on the type of e-cigarette most suitable for you. We have tested many e-cigarettes and advise you according to our experience. 

There are no e-cigarettes currently available on prescription. For now, if you want to use an e-cigarette to help you quit, you’ll have to buy one, unless your local stop smoking service provides you with e-cigarettes as part of their service. Costs of e-cigarettes can vary, but a starter kit can be no more than 20 cigarettes and should last you 6-12 months.