Nicotine Gum Addiction – as Bad as Smoking?
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.
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!).