The People's Perspective on Medicine

Can You Get Addicted to Nicotine Gum?

Chewing nicotine gum can help a person quit smoking, but what can help him give up the nicotine gum? Was one addiction replaced with a safer one?

There is no question that the single most important step a person can take toward improved health is to stop smoking. Nobody ever would or should say this step is easy, though. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to stop and several medicines that can help, from varenicline (Chantix) to nicotine patches or nicotine gum. But sometimes people find it difficult to quit the nicotine replacements. Is this a problem?

Must You Quit Nicotine Gum?

Q. I quit smoking six years ago by using nicotine gum. The trouble is, I haven’t quit the gum. Since I quit smoking I chew about 10 pieces of 4 mg gum per day. What health risks are there from long-term use?

A. Nicotine is by all accounts a highly addictive substance. Some people have called cigarettes nicotine delivery devices because it is this drug that makes it so hard to quit smoking.

Nicotine-containing gum has been around for more than three decades. It has helped many people give up cigarettes. And there is no doubt that the gum is safer. That’s because cigarette smoke contains carcinogenic chemicals.

Having Trouble Giving Up Gum:

You are not the only person to find yourself dependent on nicotine gum, however. Side effects may include digestive upset, hiccups, sore throat, headache and heart palpitations.

Even after all this time, though, experts are not sure whether long-term use of nicotine gum poses serious health risks. You may find that switching to a nicotine patch makes it easier to gradually wean yourself from nicotine.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I quit smoking 12 1/2 years ago!! One sunny day in June 5 1/2 years ago where homemade lime margaritas were involved, and I was alone, and my husband had left a cigarette, and I had access to a lighter – I smoked one cigarette. It’s crazy not smoking for 7 years, then one cigarette, and it slowly became a slight problem that I never resolved. I got tired of sneaking cigarettes and tired of having to smoke one a day, so I started the nicotine replacement therapy which was how I quit in the first place. It has not been successful.

I have been using nicotine lozenges, or gum, or patches for 3 years straight. Lucky for me this week the store ran out of lozenges and gum yesterday – this costs me 10.00 a day EVERY DAY. So I had to find the patches at the drug store – they only had the generic brand of 21 mg. I am as agitated as if I just quit smoking because I am used to 20 4 mg lozenges in about a 30 hour period so I actually have two 21 mg patches on right now and keep thinking of getting that hit with a lozenge. Hopefully, I will be able to stay with patch – I’ve read it is the best way to wean yourself off of the lozenges/gum – but it’s just like stopping smoking. You have to actually want to do it.

I quit smoking about a year ago but can’t stop chewing the gum. I chew About 10 a day. It’s crazy. I’ve just replaced one addiction to another. How do I quit the gum?

I was hooked for years on nicotette!!

P.S. I didn’t mention that it’s been nearly 19 years since I quit. It’s a great feeling.

I chewed tobacco for 35 (started that habit when I quit smoking at age 25). My dentist way back then – who was a smoker himself – cautioned that since chewing tobacco caused no smoke, no ash, needed no free hand, that it could become an all-consuming habit and did it ever.

I tried several times different things to quit smoking, and all to no avail. Then in 2013 I tried this gum, after an associate that I worked with advised he quit smoking 20 years ago and still chewed that gum. So I tried it too and it worked for me. Still was rough for the first two weeks especially but I still don’t chew tobacco and my dentist advised my gums look as good as anyone’s. And yes, I’m still chewing that gum.

Surely this is not a scientific treatise but mine and others long & short term experience – in my opinion, keep chewing the gum and don’ worry ’bout nuthin’!

Have your mouth screened for oral cancer by your dentist–keep an eye on that.

Psychological addiction to smoking is far far far worse than the chemical. Try tapering off the gum or see your doctor

I too stopped smoking using the nicotine gum but after a month on it, I started chewing a regular piece of gum for every second piece and then started to cut the nicotine gum in half. I only chewed four pieces of the nicotine gum so it didn’t take me long to break away from it. Hope this helps.

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