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Coach Corner

More Than the Patch

August 31, 2023
By Pivot
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If you're thinking about quitting or reducing tobacco use, picking the right tools to help can be overwhelming. Whether you’re thinking of the traditional nicotine patch or looking for other options like prescription medicine or nicotine-free tools, there are many choices out there. Here’s a breakdown of some of the options that you can pick from:


Most people have heard of nicotine patches, but NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) expands beyond patches to include lozenges, gum, and nasal spray. Each product works a bit differently. If you’ve tried NRT in the past and it didn’t seem to work for you, you may not have found the right product.

  • Patch: The patch is a long-acting NRT that releases nicotine into your system over time. One patch lasts for 24 hours.
  • Gum/Lozenge: These are short-acting, so they are helpful to zap a craving. You can use these as a replacement for a cigarette, on a schedule throughout the day, or together with the patch if you feel an intense breakthrough craving.
  • Nasal Spray: This product is “on-demand,” the fastest-acting form of NRT available.
  • Combo Therapy: Depending on your goal and nicotine dependency, you can combine the patch (long-acting NRT) with a short-acting NRT (like gum or lozenges), or use a combination of medication with NRT. 

NRT’s can be purchased over the counter at a local drugstore. If NRTs don’t fit into your budget, there are many ways to get them discounted or free: 

  • Pivot offers participants a limited amount of free NRT for cigarette users.
  • Doctors can prescribe NRT, so you may only need to cover a co-pay, which is often $0.
  • HSA or FSA funds
  • Free NRT through local programs or your state’s Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW)

Other Meds

There are two powerful medications that can help you on your journey to becoming tobacco-free: varenicline and bupropion. 

Varenicline is a prescription medication designed to help you quit tobacco products. It works by blocking the nicotine receptors in your brain, reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and making nicotine much less appealing to your body.

Another prescription medication that has helped many people reduce and quit smoking is bupropion. Sold under the brand names Wellbutrin or Zyban, bupropion is an antidepressant that reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms by increasing the brain chemicals associated with pleasure and reward. 

Get Creative While Cutting Back or Quitting! 

You can use any of these in combination with NRT to improve your outcomes!

  • Smart Jewelry: Wearable items you can use to help track, reduce, and quit smoking.
  • Rubber Cigarette: A nicotine-free cigarette that helps you cope with the physical motion of smoking as you reduce and quit.
  • Straw: You can cut down a straw and use it to replace the motions of smoking or breathe through the straw to cope with cravings.
  • Toothpick: You can chew on the toothpick, or something like it, to cope with the oral fixation.
  • Healthy Snacks: Make the most of your cravings by having ready-to-eat fruits and veggies to snack on instead of smoking

Tobacco and Non-Tobacco Nicotine

Nicotine pouches, over-the-counter nicotine lozenges, e-cigarettes (vapes), and other products are becoming popular, but they are not evaluated and approved by the FDA for tobacco cessation.

These products are marketed as a harm reduction tool to transition off of tobacco products. Although some people have found them to be helpful, there are a few concerns, such as a lack of clear regulation standards, safety of ingredients and actual nicotine content, and an overall increase in nicotine dependency. 

To stay up-to-date on the latest information about these and other emerging tobacco products, check reliable sources such as the CDC or FDA for official statements on these products.

Pivot Can Help!

If you are thinking about trying a tobacco cessation aid, reach out to your Pivot coach to help you choose the best options for you. Pivot offers free NRT to cigarette users on the app's home screen. You can talk to your Pivot Coach about how to use different quitting aids and speak with your doctor about medication. 

Are you looking for more information? There are helpful lessons under the “Library” tab in the app!  

Betty McGuire, MS, NBC-HWC, NCTTP

Kristen Hume, BS, NBC-HWC, NCTTP

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