What Happens 3 Months After Quitting with Nicotine Replacement?

You start smoking again.

At least, that’s what happens to approximately 93% of people who attempt to quit using what’s called “nicotine replacement therapy” (NRT) (e.g., nicotine patches, gums, etc.).

Says Who?

Says the American Cancer Society: In a report titled “Cancer Facts and Figures 2003“, only 6.8% of all successful long-term quitters used NRT. And if you think about it, you’ll quickly understand why:

  • Smokers smoke to feed their addiction to nicotine.
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) contains nicotine.
  • When smokers stop smoking, but use NRT, they’re still feeding their addiction to nicotine.
  • The vast majority of nicotine addicts who quit smoking using NRT (over 93%) go back to smoking as soon as they stop using NRT, because they’ve never actually stopped feeding their addiction to nicotine.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s going on here: a person gets hooked on nicotine by smoking cigarettes. At some point, they decide to quit smoking and they use NRT to do it. All the time they’re using the NRT, they’re feeding their addiction to nicotine, and when they stop using the NRT, they go back to smoking to once again satisfy their craving for nicotine.

What If I Don’t Believe the American Cancer Society?

Then maybe you’ll believe the snake-oil salesmen’s own paid researchers: in a study published in the British Medical Journal (“A meta-analysis of the efficacy of over-the-counter nicotine replacement“), a team of four researchers (two of whom were paid consultants to Glaxo Smith Kline — manufacturers of Nicorette, Nicoderm, and other OTC NRT products — at the time the study was conducted) concluded that the number of smokers who used NRT to quit and remained quit at 6 months was 7%.

That’s Not So Bad, Is It?

Maybe you’re thinking, “OK; 7% doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s something: at least those 7% made it.” But in another study, published in the same journal less than 6 months later (“Persistent use of nicotine replacement therapy: an analysis of actual purchase patterns in a population based sample“), another team of 4 researchers (headed by the same two who were paid consultants to Glaxo Smith Kline) found that as many as 6.7% of smokers who used NRT to quit were still using it after 6 months (by the way: the recommended period of treatment for these products is 8 to 12 weeks).

I think it can reasonably be assumed that the 7% of smokers who used NRT to quit and were still quit after 6 months in the first study were the same 7% who used NRT to quit and were still using NRT after 6 months. In other words, they had just switched the delivery system for feeding their addiction to nicotine.

But Maybe It Wasn’t the Same Ones…

Maybe not, but have you ever tried to quit by using NRT (nicotine patches, gum, or whatever)? Did you start smoking again after you stopped using the NRT? Yeah, so did 93% of everybody else that tried to quit that way.

I clearly remember several times when I decided to quit and used NRT; every time, as soon as I stopped wearing the patch or chewing the gum, I started smoking again. What’s more, everybody I ever knew who used NRT to quit smoking did the exact same thing.

Bottom Line Time

If you’re thinking about quitting smoking, and you’re thinking about using NRT (of any kind), ask yourself, “Why would I throw my money away to continue feeding my addiction to nicotine when I know that there’s an excellent chance (a 93% chance, in fact) that I’ll only go back to smoking as soon as I get tired of using the NRT?”

The fact is, you only smoke to feed your addiction to nicotine. If you really think that you’re going to quit smoking — and stay quit long-term — by continuing to feed that addiction, you’re kidding yourself.

The only way to stay quit long-term is to choose not to feed your addiction to nicotine every single time you get the urge to do so. In the beginning, you’ll need to make that choice a lot. The more you do it, the less you’ll have to, until you rarely (if ever) get the urge any more. That’s how I did it, and that’s how every successful quitter I know did it. And you can do it, too.

But not by kidding yourself.

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