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June 2019

Am J Health Syst Pharm. 1995 Feb; 52(3): 265-81; quiz 314-5.

Treatment of nicotine dependence.

Haxby DG.

College of Pharmacy, Oregon State University, Portland, USA.

Drug and nondrug interventions used in treating nicotine dependence are reviewed. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Risks of smoking-related disease and death decline sharply when smokers quit, but 26% of Americans continue to smoke. Most smokers find it extremely difficult to quit smoking because of their nicotine addiction. Nonpharmacologic interventions used to promote smoking cessation include behavioral therapy, setting a specific date for quitting, receiving advice to quit from a health care professional, follow-up visits to review progress, self-help approaches, group counseling, filtration devices, hypnosis, and acupuncture. The efficacy of these approaches ranges from substantial to almost nil. The only pharmacologic agent with FDA-approved labeling for use in smoking-cessation therapy is nicotine. When used in conjunction with appropriate nonpharmacologic interventions, nicotine-replacement therapy roughly doubles the rate of quitting obtained with placebo. Nicotine-replacement therapies consist of nicotine transdermal (patch) systems and nicotine chewing gum. The nicotine patch is the first-line replacement therapy because it is effective when accompanied by only minimal (as opposed to more intensive) nonpharmacologic interventions and because it is easier to use and comply with than gum. Clonidine, antidepressants, and buspirone require further study to determine what role, if any, they should play in the treatment of nicotine dependence. The stages of smoking cessation are precontemplation, contemplation, action, and maintenance; interventions are selected on the basis of the stage the smoker is in. Nicotine dependence is difficult to treat, but there are aids that boost a smoker's chances of quitting. Nicotine patches and chewing gum offer the most effective pharmacologic options, especially when combined with behavioral interventions and counseling.


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