Using Medications Can Help You Quit

Medications can make it easier to quit smoking by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Learn about the different types of medications and see which ones might work best for you.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is the most used quit smoking medication and comes in many forms, like gum and patches. It works by giving you a small, controlled amount of nicotine, which is the main addictive substance in cigarettes and other tobacco products. NRT doesn’t have any of the other dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes. This small amount of nicotine helps satisfy cravings for nicotine and reduces your urge to smoke. Some smokers have mild to moderate side effects. However, research shows that NRT is safe and works. NRT is not recommended for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. More research is needed to determine if NRT is safe for you and your baby. Talk to your doctor about other ways to quit while pregnant.

Most types of NRT are available over the counter, which means you can buy them without a prescription. Before you start, follow the directions on the package so you use it properly.

Learn more about using different types of NRT and how to combine NRT with other strategies.

Did you know? You can use two NRT products together to fight your most intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms. For example, you might use a long-acting NRT, like the patch, with short-acting NRT, like a lozenge.

Non-Nicotine Prescription Medications

There are two common prescription medications that help smokers quit: Bupropion SR and Varenicline. You’ll need a prescription from your doctor to buy these medications. Many insurance plans cover quit smoking medications. Check with your insurance plan to see if you are covered.

Bupropion SR

Bupropion SR (often referred to as Wellbutrin), is a medicine without nicotine. It may help with withdrawal symptoms and the urge to smoke. This medicine may not be right for pregnant women, people who have seizures, people who have eating disorders, or heavy alcohol users.


You may have heard about a recall of varenicline. If you are currently using varenicline and have concerns, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about what is best for you. Visit FDA’s webpage for more information about the recall.

Varenicline (often referred to as Chantix) does not have nicotine. This drug may help you quit by improving withdrawal symptoms and making nicotine from cigarettes less effective if you start smoking again. This medicine may not be right for people with kidney problems and women who are pregnant‚ planning to become pregnant‚ or are breastfeeding.

Ask your doctor‚ dentist‚ or pharmacist if these medicines are right for you. Always use them as prescribed or as listed on the packaging.

Remember: NRT and other medications won’t do all of the work for you. This is why it’s important to try a variety of quit smoking tools until you find what works for you. It can take several attempts until you get the right combination.

Want to explore more? Smokefree has information on different quit methods. Learn which ones might be right for you.