Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a type of medication that helps reduce cravings for cigarettes. Nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, nasal sprays, and sublingual tablets are some examples of NRT.
The idea behind using these medications is to provide relief from withdrawal symptoms caused by quitting smoking.
There are two types of nicotine replacement therapies: transdermal and oral. Transdermal nicotine replacement therapy involves placing a patch on the skin. Oral nicotine replacement therapy involves taking a pill or liquid form of nicotine.
Are nicotine pouches safe? Are they effective at helping smokers quit smoking?
Keep reading to find out more.
What Is A Nicotine Pouch?
A nicotine pouch is a small bag that contains other ingredients along with the chemical nicotine. It is not chewed like gum or swallowed like a tablet. The pouch is placed between the gum and lip for up to an hour, during which time the nicotine is released into your system.
Nicotine pouches are marketed as a safer alternative to smoking. If you are addicted to nicotine, you will be able to satisfy your craving without smoking tobacco and taking on the risks that come with cigarettes.
Unlike lozenges and nicotine gum. Nicotine pouches are not FDA approved.
What Ingredients Are In A Nicotine Pouch?
The main ingredient in a nicotine pouch is nicotine. They also contain water, sweeteners to improve the taste, and plant-based fibers.
There are different strengths of nicotine pouches available, so there will be more or less nicotine depending on which strength you choose. Nicotine pouches do not contain any tobacco.
What Are The Long Term Health Impacts Of Nicotine Pouches?
Nicotine pouches are not currently FDA approved which means they have not undergone the strict testing and regulations that come with FDA approval.
This means that the long-term health impacts are not fully known or understood. There is a lack of data to indicate what long-term use of nicotine pouches will do to your health.
We do know that some of the side effects of nicotine pouches can include gum irritation, nausea, hiccups, and a sore mouth. The main side effect for people to be aware of is that using a nicotine product can cause nicotine addiction.
Are Nicotine Pouches A Safe Way To Quit Smoking?
As nicotine pouches are not FDA approved, there is a lack of data to support whether they are a safe way to help you quit smoking, or even whether they are effective. In theory, you could use them as you would any other nicotine replacement therapy.
You can gradually move towards the weaker strength pouches and have them more sporadically until you are completely free from your nicotine addiction.
However, medical experts are unlikely to recommend nicotine pouches as other nicotine replacement treatments are FDA approved.
Should You Use A Nicotine Pouch?
If you are planning to quit smoking then it is best to speak to your Doctor. They will be able to advise you on the most effective treatment based on how much you smoke and the extent of your nicotine addiction.
You need to come off nicotine gradually, as the withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant. You might feel tired but also find it difficult to sleep. Some people feel very sad or irritable. You could also experience mild flu symptoms and headaches.
Your doctor will recommend a form of nicotine replacement therapy, usually one that is FDA approved. This could include nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, nasal sprays, and inhalers.
Whilst your Doctor might not be able to officially recommend nicotine pouches as they are not FDA approved, you can still ask their advice on whether they think it would be helpful to you.
Adolescent Nicotine Use
Nicotine-based products like cigarettes and e-cigarettes are becoming more popular with teenagers. This is very concerning as nicotine use during adolescence can be very harmful.
It can lead to learning difficulties, issues with attention span, and a lifelong issue with addiction. Any teenager suffering from a nicotine addiction should seek medical attention so they can get the support they need to come off nicotine as soon as possible.
How To Overcome A Nicotine Addiction
Overcoming an addiction can be very challenging and the process will differ from person to person. There are some general tips that you might find useful:
– Make sure that you understand nicotine withdrawal – Before you quit smoking, do some research in nicotine withdrawal.
Familiarize yourself with the symptoms so that you will recognize them when they happen. As you come off nicotine, take note of when your symptoms are worse and when your cravings are strongest.
This will help you to be prepared and to make sure you have all the support you need at those times.
Deal With Urges In A Healthy Way
Fighting the urge to give in to your cravings is very difficult. Make sure that you have planned out some healthy ways to deal with those urges.
Distraction works well, so find some activities that will take up a lot of your attention. Physical exercise, relaxation, reading, socializing- whatever works for you. Exercise is a great option because it releases endorphins that make you feel good.
Overcoming an addiction is a struggle for your mind just as much as your body.
While your body experiences the physical effects of chemical withdrawal, your mind has to deal with the emotional triggers, the desperation, and stress that comes with it. Meditation can be a really useful tool to help you through this.
Keep Yourself Busy
If you have a lot of spare time then you will have plenty of time to sit and think about how bad your cravings are. Keeping yourself busy will help you to get through without giving in.
Fuel Your Body
You don’t want to take on too much at once by overhauling your diet at the same time that you are giving up smoking. However, nicotine withdrawal could make you tired so you need to fuel your body with nutritious food.
Don’t Do It Alone
Whether you find someone else who is also trying to give up nicotine, or you get support from a family or friend who doesn’t smoke, you should make sure that there is always someone for you to talk to. Trying to overcome an addiction on your own can be overwhelming.
So, Are Nicotine Pouches Safe?
Nicotine replacement therapy is considered to be safe, and nicotine pouches are a form of nicotine replacement therapy. However, they are not FDA-approved.
This means that there is limited data to help us understand whether they are effective and what the long-term health impacts are.
We do know that some of the side effects can be unpleasant, but this is not dissimilar to other forms of nicotine replacement like gum or lozenges.
Whilst your doctor might not recommend nicotine pouches, you might still find them useful when you are trying to quit smoking and overcome nicotine addiction.
If you do not currently use any nicotine-based products then you should avoid using nicotine pouches. There is a very strong risk that you could become addicted to nicotine.