What are the most effective drugs for quitting smoking? – WWN

What are the most effective drugs for quitting smoking? – WWN

Of Elena Munarini

Traditional nicotine substitutes have been joined by other drugs that increase the percentage of permanent cessation, even in heavy smokers

Are there any medications that help you stop smoking?

He replies Elena Munarinipsychologist and psychotherapist, Anti-smoking Centre, National Cancer Institute, Milan (GO TO THE FORUM)

Nicotine is highly addictive and those who want to quit must fight against “craving”, i.e. the greed that binds them to cigarettesIt is against withdrawal symptoms: nervousness, increased appetite, headache, anxiety, decreased mood, insomnia, constipation. Today, however, the traditional nicotine substitutes (patches, sublingual sprays, gum, sweets and inhalers) have been joined by other drugs, which require a medical prescription but they significantly increase the percentage of permanent cessation, even in heavy smokers.


In particular we talk about cytisine, a galenic medicine in capsules based on an active ingredient extracted from the flower of a plant, Cytisus Laburnum. Its action is to displace the brain receptors to which nicotine binds, thus decreasing the sensitivity of the nervous system to this substance and promoting the release of dopamine, the pleasure neurotransmitter. The therapy begins when you are still smoking, gradually increasing the dosage to reach the therapeutic dosage within two weeks. So you scale it progressively. The duration of treatment with cytisine, contraindicated only for those suffering from kidney diseaseand of at least 40 days. The definitive success rate, also according to recent data from the Anti-Smoking Center of the National Cancer Institute of Milan, is 47%.


Another option is represented by bupropion, which guarantees success in 30-35% of smokers. It is an antidepressant that is part of the SSRI family (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and the initial dose is 150 mg, to be taken once a day for a week and increased to 300 mg starting from the eighth day. At full dosage, the drug should be taken for at least seven weeks. It is contraindicated for people with liver disease (since the drug is disposed of via the liver), who have suffered head trauma or who suffer from epilepsy, hypertensive and insomniac subjects. Possible side effects are insomnia and agitation.

Anti-smoking centers

The choice of a molecule must be made with your family doctor or with a specialist Anti-smoking Center accredited by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità or by the Region (toll-free number 800.554088). However, drugs are not enough and the ideal therapy is almost always integrated, with a counseling program and, in more complex cases, counseling sessions. cognitive behavioral support.

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February 13, 2024 (modified February 13, 2024 | 07:42)

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