Addicted to Nicotine Gum
Nicotine gum is a staple in smoking cessation. It is the most widely sold stop
smoking aid of all time. It is available without a prescription, which is both good and
bad. First the good: this smoking cessation tool is available to just about everyone
without having the additional step of seeing a doctor first. So if someone who
smokes desires to stop, they can run down to the local pharmacy or grocery store
and buy some nicotine gum. The convenience is amazing and can provide real help
for those who spontaneously decide to stop smoking either long term or just for a
short period of time. However, its widespread availability also lends itself to not
being taken seriously. So someone trying to stop smoking might just "try" the
nicotine gum to see if it works, rather than seriously setting out and planning to quit
with resolve. The lack of a prescription also sets it up for abuse, as some smokers
may find themselves addicted to nicotine gum if there is no physician oversight
One healthcare professional we used to work with bragged about how he had quit
smoking by using smokeless tobacco. However, within one or two weeks, he had
simply transitioned his nicotine addiction from cigarettes to chewing tobacco. This is
never a good idea because chewing tobacco is also an extremely dangerous habit
to pursue with a host of diseases related to its use.
So what can we learn from his experience with smokeless tobacco? First of all, it is
possible to substitute one form of nicotine addiction with another. This act of
substitution is not necessarily beneficial long term. Secondly, addiction is addiction.
It leads to an unhealthy lifestyle. When someone is addicted, they usually find it
difficult to make decisions without first considering their addiction. In other words,
the addiction impacts their decision making abilities. Whether it's a food addiction,
drug addiction or some other form, like nicotine, life loses some of its organic nature
when the addiction is considered first.
There are similarities between this person and many others who simply switch to a
nicotine gum addiction away from their tobacco addiction. Life is not lived out
organically, there remains a crutch or a dependency upon an outside physiological
chemical agent to get through the day. This psychological phenomena is no different
just because the person now has a different way of taking in nicotine.
Fact or Fiction?
Okay, so what's the truth? Can you really be stuck on nicotine gum (pardon the pun)?
Nicotine gum has been studied extensively. Like we said, it's been around a long
time. Nicotine replacement therapy is designed to help alleviate the nicotine
withdrawal symptoms. Research tells us that this concept does work for a handful of
smokers, but not for all. But do people actually become addicted to nicotine gum?
It is important to remember that nicotine gum is designed to be used for about three
months or so. Anything beyond that could be considered a nicotine gum addiction.
But if someone transfers their addiction to gum from smoking, is that a bad thing?
First of all, lets consider the side effects of nicotine gum. They are primarily limited to
gastric or G.I. upset. As the gum is chewed, the mouth will produce saliva which
mixes with the nicotine from the gum. This saliva is then swallowed or ingested into
the GI system. Once there, the nicotine can upset the stomach. This is why the
nicotine gum must be "parked" between the cheek and gum, thus limiting the saliva
But there do not appear to be any long term side effects to it's use. There are
scientific studies out there which describe how it was used for up to 5 years with no
ill effects - other than the smoker is now addicted to nicotine gum. There were no
identified or studied physiological hazards to using the gum for that length of time.
This doesn't mean there aren't any, just that none were identified or studied.
Therefore, the studies do not indicate an acceptance for it's long term use. By no
means, the researchers aren't saying it's okay to be addicted to nicotine gum.
Addiction is never a good idea as we talked about before. This is where seeing a
physician or professional smoking cessation counselor can be so important. They
can help monitor the use of nicotine replacement therapy and the progress of the
smoking cessation plan. Having that accountability only adds to the success rate of
nicotine replacement. And it may prevent you from developing a nicotine gum
So what do you do if you have a nicotine gum addiction? You must first see your
physician and discuss your situation. They can then advise you on how to move
forward without nicotine. They can also help you with your smoking cessation goals.
If you were able to successfully quit smoking while on the nicotine gum, then
congratulations. But if you are smoking and using nicotine gum, then you will
definitely want the assistance of a licensed health professional. Hopefully, by the
end of the counseling sessions you'll be free of smoking and will no longer be
addicted to any nicotine, including nicotine gum.
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