Getting Off Of Gum

A reader posts, "I have been on nicotine gum forever. I am not smoking but am definitely getting nicotine. Do you think that new Chantix would help me?"

There are definitely people who are "stuck" on the gum. I came accross a study that suggested 6% of gum users continue chewing much longer than the 12 weeks recommended. One thing to remember is that this is WAY better than smoking. However, there is still the concern about nicotine intake as well as the feeling of being still hooked on something.

If there are major long term effects of chewing the gum, they have not been identified as of yet. We have come accross people who have chewed for more than a decade and their main issue is with the cost of nicotine gum. But there have been no heart or vascular problems identified in any of the literature.

For some chronic gum users, stopping is associated with some of the withdrawal symptoms we see in people who stop smoking without the aide of a medication. Those symptoms are headaches, irritability, trouble concentrating and even depression.

There was an excellent study done by a leading researcher in this area, John Hughes. He discovered that of long-term gum users, only a small number were truly addicted to the gum. He found that many could stop but were not doing so out of fear of slipping back into smoking.

I am not aware of any studies about Chantix and getting off of the gum. I will ask the lead researcher of a few of the Chantix studies what he thinks, but I suspect it would help. That's because Chantix block the effects of nicotine and helps with withdrawal.

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About the Author

MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.