Nicotine Gum Addiction – as Bad as Smoking?

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There are people out there who have nicotine gum addiction. They have replaced their cigarette addiction and now they are addicted to the “cure.” Or in some cases, they continue to smoke AND use nicotine gum in cases when they cannot light up a cigarette.

This is a big issue, in my opinion, because I have seen people that I know that have struggled with it. Being addicted to nicotine gum is still a problem, even if it is not quite as bad as being addicted to cigarettes. And if you happen to be using a nicotine replacement product, such as the gum, and continue to smoke cigarettes, you need to stop one of them right away. It’s either the replacement therapies or the cigarettes. Never should you combine the two, that is asking for trouble and can really be quite dangerous.

Nicotine replacement therapies

My take on nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) is that they do not really work. Sure there are people who have quit successfully with the patch or the gum, but it is my belief that most or all of those people could have quit anyway. NRT always looks good in short term studies because using those products produces better short term success rates than going cold turkey. But if you look at 3 year, 5 year, or 10 year success rates you will see that cold turkey quitters start to outnumber those who used NRT products.

In the end, everyone quits cold turkey. It sounds like a nice idea to use a nicotine patch to “ween yourself down” off the nicotine, but this doesn’t really help much. The withdrawal symptoms are the same severity when you finally stop putting nicotine in your body.

That’s an important point: it doesn’t seem to matter what level of nicotine you are hooked on. When you take it away, the withdrawal is agonizing. That is why NRT products tend to fail. They are no better than going cold turkey in the end. You still have to face your physical existence without the nicotine at some point. And when you do, there is going to be a nasty withdrawal, regardless of how much you have “stepped down” using NRT products.

This is what makes the Nicotine gum addiction so insidious. Getting down to zero nicotine intake with the gum is going to feel exactly the same as quitting the cigarettes cold turkey. They both feel the same in terms of withdrawal symptoms. So really, kicking the gum is just as difficult as getting off the cigarettes.

But then there is the insidious logic to it all: it is easier for us to justify and rationalize long term NRT use. We know that the gum is healthier for us than smoking, so we stay hooked on it. But addiction is addiction, and Nicotine gum costs money and keeps you trapped in a cycle of using. There are still huge benefits to getting off the NRT products as well – one of which is that you will increase your chances of not returning to cigarettes. Part of staying hooked on NRT products is that when they fail they lead you back to your drug of choice: smoking cigarettes.

In other words, if you’re hooked on an NRT product, then you stand a bigger chance of relapsing back to smoking than if you were completely nicotine free. Why? Because nicotine is extremely addictive! This is a very powerful physical addiction we are dealing with here, and if you continue to put the drug nicotine into your body then your body will never be free of the addiction. Thus your chances of going back to smoking remain extremely high when you’re using NRT products.

The solution

Have you ever been afraid to take off a band-aid because you knew it was going to hurt to tear it off? You can pull it slowly and go through agony, or you can rip it off fast and be done with it.

You know what the solution is. The solution is to stop putting nicotine into your body. You quit smoking cigarettes, now it is time to quit using nicotine. A drug is still a drug. And there is no easy way to do it other than to just do it.

I do have one suggestion that helped me immensely in getting free from nicotine: sleep through the worst part of your withdrawal. That might sound a bit too simple but it absolutely works if you do it right. To make this technique really effective I suggest that you quit nicotine cold turkey and then stay awake for at least 24 hours. That way you will sleep long and deep through the worst part of your withdrawals. Sounds crazy but this actually worked for me and I haven’t had any nicotine for over 3 years now (and saved over $5,000 dollars!).


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  • Irfan Kuman

    DUDE – So true – I am using gum and I know just after 3 weeks I will have to face music soon… all I have done is changed the delivery method… body is just as hooked if not more so as the gum is quite potent if chewed rapidly.

    Although I find it has empowered me a little (false sense of security) into thinking I am more in control.

    I am surprised no-one else has commented – mate we live in a dull sheep like existence and people really need to open up.

    Thanks for short simple yet refreshing read.

  • Trina

    Hi I Truly liked your article, I have been addicted to Nicotine Gum for 2 1/2 years. I have convinced myself it is Okay. I know I have to Quit but I am Scared. I don’t like to go through the Cravings. I think your article has bounced me back to reality and I will have to give up my addiction……

  • http://yahoo susan

    I almost died from nicotine posioning.

  • Anne

    I kicked the nicotine gum habit today! Wasn’t really planning on it, it just happened. (Actually started a cleanse and had to stop the gum, but in my head this was only temporary)….I might as well just give it up altogether. I’m just wondering how long the withdrawals last?

  • Patrick

    Withdrawal will generally peak around the 72 hour mark from the last time you ingested any nicotine. It will be pretty much over at one week and completely gone by 2 weeks.

    Good luck Anne!

  • Jim

    I’ve been addicted to nicotine gum for many years. I was a pipe smoker and I inhaled. I quit smoking in 1989 and my Air Force doctor (sorry…physician assistant) provided the nicotine gum; it was prescription at the time and not available OTC. I received over 40 boxes of gum from the Air Force. After I returned to the States, it was available OTC. I too convinced myself it was far better than ever returning to smoking. I am now 60 years old and still chewing the gum with a $300 per month habit. I’ve experienced numbness and tingling in my feet and was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy (non-diabetic). I just finished reading several internet articles from medical journals and chronic nicotine can be one of the causes of peripheral neuropathy. I will get off the gum and I may have to do an inpatient program or get a cabin in the mountains for a month.

  • Patrick

    @ Jim – I like the cabin in the mountains idea, very novel and enticing. I wish I had done that when I tried to quit smoking back in the day. I say, go for it! Sounds like an adventurous way to take back your freedom from the darn gum.

    Good luck!

  • Soojin chun

    I just got a free box of nicotine gum from NYC dept of health. I have been going back and forthe bet cigs and gum. I did notice when I was chewing the gum in the past, I felt insecure and paniced if the gum was running low. I really have to agree any type of nicotine can ge quite addictive. I have a coworker who’s been chewing the gum for 15 years. It’s crazy isn’t it? Just bought a book “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” bu Allen Carr. I think many people quit after reading this book. He does not believe in NRT or will power to quit smoking. I will read this book.

  • mary

    I quit smoking 20 years ago, then started back again.I forgot how good I felt,the smell of the summer rain,wonderfully preparied dinners,walking briskly,clean cloths,clean hair,car that does’nt smell like one huge ashtray.I’ve been on the patch for 2 weeks, so has my boyfriend. I decided to rip that patch off ,and just call it quits…….it;s been 3 days now……not feeling to bad… smellls good now, walking briskly again,some of that dull fogness is disappearing. Ya know, I think I’m going to make it……..

  • Bill

    Hi to all, need to write this in the hope that it will help me through a very difficult period. I have been using NRT for over 9 years, in the form of lozenges. As I have got older the detremental effects on my digestion have got worse and 15 weeks ago I decided to try to give up. I replaced the lozenges with patches and followed the directions exactly. 6 weeks ago I stopped using the lowest dose patch. Fine for 3 and a half weeks and then incredibly strong nicotine cravings. Went out a bought more lozenges, but within 6 hours I realised that I could not go back as they upset my stomach really badly. It’s now been 17 days and the last 4 have been very bad. I am having anxiety attacks and this is having a bad effect on an already delicate digestion. Got a tiger by the tail and now I can’t let go. Just hope I can get through the next few weeks.

  • sam

    hang in there Bill! it will pass, maybe it doesn’t feel that way now but it will.! some people withdraw longer and harder then others. i am at week 6 with no smokes and starting week 2 without nicotine gum… anxiety, cramps, depressed, blocked nose, dizzy at times… smoked for 23 years started when i was 14. I WILL NEVER SMOKE AGAIN!
    good luck u’all! lol

  • Jane

    well, i don’t agree. i gave up with gum very easily, no side effects, no cravings. i only needed it for a few days. and even if you develop a new addiction, at least you’re not bringing on cancer, heart attack, bad teeth, etc. while you deal with it :)

  • Ben

    I have been on the losenges for 1.5 years and have not been smoking in that time. It is very expensive but I am told it is better than smoking. I am just looking for the right time to quit the NRT. I am concerned that there will be some side effect of the NRT. I hope not. Thats how I ended up reading this article.

  • Heidi

    I have been addicted to nicotine gum for 2 years. I have been smoke-free for 2 years – and was so proud of myself for that – as it took at least 12 attempts at quitting over 12 years with no success. The gum truly helped me kick the habit. HOWEVER, it is still nicotine, and I basically just switched addictions. I recently had arrhythmia and pvc cardiac problems (I’m 36 and exercise 5 times a week) – the doctors and cardiologists thought the gum had absolutely nothing to do with it. However, after a week of not chewing, the symptoms have alleviated. I also am not having daily headaches or acid reflux. I was chewing about 8 pieces a day of the 2 mg pieces/split in half (so maybe just 8-10 mg?) But it took 2 years to start wreaking some havoc in my body. And Patrick is right, this past week has felt just like quitting smoking ALL OVER AGAIN!! Depression, lethargy, anger, irritability – and I have two young kids so I couldn’t sleep through the worst of it:) So – it’s true – if at all possible, try to just go cold turkey – save yourself some time and money, and going through withdrawals again. I can’t say whether I could have quit at that time without the gum – I really do think it helped me a lot. But it’s a double-edged sword – don’t let doctors or anyone else let you think it “safe” long-term. They really just don’t know, and mainly just want you to stop smoking. Best of luck to all who attempt to break the imprisonment of nioctine.

  • ann

    hi i have been on nrt for 5 years now swapping from on product to another to try and stop my habbit but i feel i am going to have to go cold turkey soon i too had digestion problems on some products but took antacid tablets not good . i was addicted to normal gum as a youngster even sleeping with it in i have tried replacing nrt with normal gum so many a day but still not cured i may try the nasal spray as it maybe the need to have something in my mouth that is the problem .cannot use patches as my husband does not know i have a problem ,i dont like feeling that something is in control of me. it costs too much and there is the sneeking about getting rid of the evidence , the only up side is i get a lot of boots advantage points but even swap chemists as i have had a few comments from the sales assistants before will let you know soon if it works hope so .

  • jason

    who cares……at the end of the day …NRT is safe ….and smoking isnt…so better to be addicted to NRT for the rest of your life….than smoking even 1 cigarette…..ive been on the gum now for about 45 years…and i dont care…its not exactly harming me…and the amount of nicotine is minimal compared to even 1 cigarette…so my addiction is much less..and i am becoming safe from lung cancer…plus i can do a 10 mile run without stopping now…whereas before i was wheezing and tired walking up stairs.

  • Derek King

    Nicotine gum is a lot safer than smoking or dip. I would rather see people I know use the gum if they have to use.
    This website is selling a product. They are trying to convince people that use nicotine gum to pay them. This article is biased.

  • OneAnjel

    I was a hard-core smoker, only NRT worked for me. I am grateful to it. But I later became addicted. So I’m happy to see resources popping up for NRT addictions, I don’t know why it hasn’t been researched before allowing it to be OTC! I was so shocked to learn of all the related symptoms and potential health risks. I had the usual gum probs, dry mouth, gassiness but surprised to find (at that a lot of ppl report hair loss, fatigue, depression, muscle weakness, brain fog, itching, and it is suggested that it may deplete gray matter, and prevent expelling of toxins and dead cells. I had so many of these and have been researching them, finding my symptoms relate to Celiac Disease and Candidas Albacans. Maybe the gum caused them. Because I also learned, after 2 years of dry mouth and constant use of breath sprays, the gum contains sorbitol which creates “sugar” addiction; also sorbitol causes gas ’cause it’s a laxative AND it drys the mouth causing sore tongue, receding gums & dryness throughout the body and organs, inc hair & nails. Listerine type sprays exacerbate the problem. To fix the dryness and gas probs switch to a gum that has xylitol instead of sorbitol (while your quitting). P.S re Allen Carr “Easy Way To Quit Smoking”, I heard the CD and he actually says he quit through hypnosis, not through his own system. He kind of glides over this point but it’s there. (& I could not figure out what his system actually was in the first place.) I don’t recommend that.

  • I Quit in 72 hours

    Good news for those of you concerned about withdrawal from Nicotine Gum. I am at the 72 hour point of quitting the gum with very little if any withdrawal symptoms! Yes I am a bit lighted headed at times, and I am having a hard time focusing my thoughts- but it is much much easier than I “thought” it would be.

    I have been trying to quit the gum (10 -12 pieces a day) for 5 years as I am sure it was causing higher blood pressure, occasional erratic heartbeat, digestive sensitivities, and borderline anxiety from being pretty revved up on nicotine all the time.

    Here is my suggestion for those who want to quit. Commit to going 100 hours (hours, not days) without the gum. Start your count of the hours before your go to sleep one night (that gives you a good 7-8 hour start). Each time a craving for the gums arises- which it persistently will for the first 24 hours- tell yourself you only have “x” number of hours to go before you can have a piece. Admittedly this technique will work best for those who have well developed willpower and who are already pretty good at delaying gratification.

    In any event, once you get past the 100th hour you are in a position to make a “rational” decision about whether to have another piece of nicotine gum. Most you you are already clear that the rational answer will be NO MORE NICOTINE GUM. After 100 hours (or less!) you will no longer have the desire for the gum. I am free after 72 hours. I have NO DESIRE for the gum! It was pretty darn easy folks.

  • jack

    Dear readers, I am little confused. Recently, I quick smoking. Since I was having strong carvings. I sure the net to find some alternative and read about income gum. I have been using this gum from the past one week. I use one piece (2mg) each day. I divide the piece into four parts and take each time when required. Is it still dangerous ?
    Please reply….

  • notjebbush

    i smoked for 10 years. then i decided to quit for health reasons. no gum required. quitting is as simple as saying ‘i won’t buy another cigarette’. willpower is stronger than any inanimate substance like nicotine, are you people honestly saying an inanimate substance has command of your life? withdrawal symptoms? stomach ache/cravings/etc? man/woman up, and stop smoking, it’s that simple.

  • rita forrester

    i too have been free of cigs for 2 1/2 yrs an am in an ongoing battle at first it was the gum an loz slowly got off gum but hooked on gum now an last month i quit for a month then went bk on gum quit gum an went bk on loz after reading all of your stories i am going to quit cold turkey cutting down does not work for me thax everyone god bless us all in this addiction

  • Andre

    I have been addicted to chewing nicotine gum for six years and have tried to quit. Since I have a slow pulse anyway, when I stop, my pulse still drops further and I then do not feel confident and have to force myself to breath deeply at times since I feel that I am suffocating. My lungs are are supposedly clear now.
    I have been to a few medical practitioners but they all seem unconcerned and seem more interested in the consultation fee with no or little advice.
    Can oral intake of nicotine effect arteries the same as with smoking?

  • Warrior

    Hello everyone,

    I enjoyed reading the article and found it very helpful.

    I smoked for 22 years a pack a day and gave the habit up in April 2011. Since then I have been addicted to the nicotine gum – 1.5 years approx. I have been hiding this habit from friends and co workers.

    I always told myself that it was better to use the nicotine gum than to go back to smoking as at least I was not smoking.

    However I recently realised that i am an addict and that is why I am using the nictotine gum, to try and get a buzz from something!!

    I went on a retreat and realised that I was telling myself that i could not live without the nictoine gum and then I realised that I actually beleived that this small piece of nicotine chewing gum was holding me and my life together!!! I realised that my thinking was wrong and flushed all the nicotine gum down the toilet.

    I went through a painful withdrawal for the first 24 hours, I felt as though I would jump out of my skin. However as I was on a retreat, I meditated and sat with the thoughts and feelings that came up during withdrawal. This was all very painful but it really helped I think I could not have done it if I did not have the space the retreat gave me to feel the pain.

    I am now on day six and it is like having an itch you cannot scratch, but I take it one moment at a time and now that no matter what happens, I will not put any nicotine in my body. I will not because I know that that piece of gum is not holding me together, life is and I am a part of life!

    Good luck everyone.


  • Kelly

    I stopped smoking on Feb 4th 2013 using the 16 hour patch, I must say I found it fairly easy if I kept busy ( its always the psychological side to not smoking that makes me start again ). However I have decided that I dont want to replace one addiction for another so I am now on day 2 of CT from the patch and I feel……….awful. The cravings are nearly always there, my head is banging, my chest is tight, I cant stop coughing and Im so so tired but unable to sleep. Im snapping at the kids and even more so at my hubby as he quit CT 7 weeks ago, piece of cake, no problems at all and I’m JEALOUS! Where has he found it so easy!! Anyway today is a tiny bit easier then yesterday so Im guessing tomorrow will be that little bit better too. I wont give up the fight, I wont let smoking beat me.

    Best Of luck to all, we can do this!!! xx

  • Desiree

    I tell all I meet to just search on the web for for
    electronic cigarettes to see for themselves how well established this industry is, and how
    big the choice is for these life saving products is.
    What really gets my goat, though, are the increasing number of posts
    in the news press saying how bad they are.
    Apparently Big Pharma – the producers of stop smoking aids are supporting an anti-e-vape war – not so much the
    fag firms (as one might think), as many are investing in them.
    I can really appreciate the benefits of e cigs. Just complaining – that there is always a hidden agenda with big companies trying to ban
    electronic cigarettes – our country’s politicians must do a lot more to promoter their use. It makes me so cross. I hope they don’t get banned.
    I have not had a true cigarette for two months now thanks to using
    ecigs. I am a promoter of these electric cigs.

  • Tina Oliver

    NOTHING works for everybody. There is no ONE method. I quit smoking at 34, started using gum and I have never stopped using the gum. I went back to smoking at the age of 40. , because I never gave up the nicotine! I tried reducing. like they suggest in the packets. I went from 4 mg to trying the 2, always finding myself chewing twice as much and reverting back to the 4mg. I quit smoking again off and on between the ages of 40 and 44, going as long as 6 months, never getting off the gum, or vapor ciggs~ or both. I have not had a real cigarette in over two years now. but I have shelled out as much, if not more on NRT or e-ciggs and all the accessories that go with that new trap (addiction).
    I am now 46 yrs old and am quitting the gum cold turkey, and I can tell you from expert experience, (and yes, I consider myself an absolute expert after almost a solid 30 plus years of using Nicotine in one form or another, as far as being qualified to tell you what it does to the human body when you withdraw from it and in particular, my body), That it feels EXACTLY the same as quitting cigarettes
    You are kidding yourself if you think nicotine is not harming you. The fact that i went back to smoking after being quit for almost 6 full years should resonate with you on the real and actual health risk alone, but the fact is, nicotine is a poison. It is mostly found in tobacco which is considered a Nightshade. It has its own REAL harmful effects on the human body all by itself. In truth they still do not know ALL of the harmful effects that Nicotine in itself can do to the body. I can tell you from experience though, that there is no ONE way of weening yourself off of it, and YES you do have to get away from it, if for no other reason, other than economically its just stupid for you to continue to harm your body when in reality, its not something that you actually enjoy doing. No one enjoys spitting a piece of ABC gum into a napkin, or having receding gums, experiencing gastric intestinal problems or even repeatedly having to buy the gum, patch, lozenge etc, to the tune of at least 35-70 US $ a pop. ~ About as much as it now costs a week to smoke, (if you only smoke 20 cigarettes a day ;)
    You are back at cold turkey, no matter how you look at it, and it is not fun. Try cough drops, Vicks Vapor, cinnamon gum, going for a jog, candy, drinking water, herbal tea, cold showers~ All of it! But please don’t think that there is an easy fix, or that continuing to use the gum is ok by any stretch of the imagination, and whatever you do, don’t lie to yourself and think that you’re better or stronger than me and you will never go back to smoking. You told yourself that you used to enjoy lighting up a stick of rolled tobacco filled with over 200 chemicals and inhaling that chemical filled smoke into your fleshy lungs, and that you liked the smell, the burning sensation and I’m assuming the taste of tar and nicotine left in your mouth, after standing, sometimes in the freezing cold outside of a bar, restaurant or your office_ just to get that nicotine ;) If the addiction was so strong that you could lie to yourself and convince yourself that you “enjoyed” doing that, then it can and will creep back up on you if you continue to keep nicotine in your system.
    For those of you who go through very little if any symptoms at all, PLEASE for the love of god, come to grips with the scientific fact that everybody is physiologically different and that your experience with withdrawal WILL be different an unique from everybody elses. I think its great for those people who Do not suffer any unpleasantness, but in all seriousness, do you honestly think that because you didn’t suffer from any withdrawals that everybody else will have the exact same experience? I only emphasize the dangers of staying on NRT for the dangers of reverting back to cigarettes, because in all honesty, they really don’t know ALL of the harmful health effects that nicotine has on the body. That isn’t hard to look up, and it certainly isn’t that hard to take your own physical symptoms and rely on the word of your own body. In my own experience, I’v had trouble sleeping, heartburn, heart palpitations, fatigue, numbness in the legs etc.
    I hope, that this post helps somebody, if you have read a boatload of posts on this issue and made it to mine, thinking everything from, well its really not that serious., or its way better to be addicted to the gum than smoking itself, please don’t kid yourself, and please don’t leave with that impression, simply because people in this forum are not all that good at conveying their real experiences, or explaining themselves accurately. See the real danger of NRT addiction and do whatever works for you to get yourself off of it. Avoid it altogether if you can. remember one is too much and a thousand is never enough ;)

  • Jay

    Use of nicotine in any form — including nicotine gum — can lead to insulin intolerance over time, and insulin intolerance can lead to plaque build-up in the arteries. Just because it *can* doesn’t mean it *will*, but it’s possible.

  • Simon Chase

    Just FYI, I was a smoker for 24 years. I was able to quit using an electronic vapor device and used it for 11 months. With in those eleven months I experienced heavy anxiety, high heart rate, and irregular heart beats which got progressively worse as I continued…What caused most of all these symptoms was of course the nicotine. The thing is that we can gauge how much real nicotine we inhale using ejuice. Even though it’s a specified dose of nicotine, how much are you taking?
    You can vape all the time and it is taken for granted.
    After I quit vaping ejuice, I have felt better than ever. I am now going through a tough time with nicotine withdrwals, but what I can say is that my lungs feel so good, I can run long, like Forrest Gump.

  • Smokie the Bear

    Too true.
    Probably coming up to 2 years of chewing gum now, and I chew 2 x 4mg pieces at the same time! Constantly chew from rise to rest, and probably have higher nicotine intake now than when I was smoking.

  • Smokie the Bear

    Also ,I met a guy buying Nicotine gum at the chemist while I was also replenishing my supply.
    I asked him how long he had been using the gum. His reply? 8 years!

  • ak

    true i can see the point that nicotine is nicotine an addiction is an addiction,i smoked 1-2pks/day for 20yrs and just quit 3days ago this is the first time i have tried quitting and i have been using the gum and plan on using it like it says for the 12 weeks,and to be quite honest,who cares if you use it longer at least your not getting all that tar down in your lungs anymore and hurting the people around you,i also bought a big bag of cough drops and regular gum and that seems to be working quite well for me so far,i for one am truly greatful for the choice at least until i can get some tobacco free time under my belt.

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