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Health & Wellness

Learn how TRICARE can help you live a healthier life.

Frequently Asked Questions about Medicines to Help You Quit

What medicines can help with nicotine withdrawal?

A number of medicines can help you quit smoking or chewing tobacco by lessening nicotine withdrawal. Some of them work by giving you low doses of nicotine so that your nicotine withdrawal symptoms will not be as strong. Others cut the pleasure and help with withdrawal symptoms. Using some form of nicotine containing or other medicine doubles your chances of quitting smoking for good, especially if you are nicotine dependent.

Below are some medicines for you to consider:

  • Commit®
  • Habitrol
  • Nicoderm CQ
  • Nicorette
  • Nicotrol®/Nicotrol® NS
  • NiQuitin CQ
  • Zyban
Ask your doctor for more advice on these medicines. And remember: Medicine alone can't do all the work. It can help with cravings and withdrawal, but quitting smoking or chewing will still be hard at times.

Does TRICARE pay for cessation medications?

Yes, TRICARE does pay for cessation medications. At no cost to you, TRICARE beneficiaries can receive over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies and prescription medications through the TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery and military pharmacies. Active Duty U.S. military personnel also have access to free medications to help them quit through military hospitals and clinics. Smoking cessation medications are not covered at retail pharmacies.

In addition, each state has a tobacco quitline set up through 1-800-Quit-Now. Calling this number will route you to your state’s service, and many states offer free nicotine patches and gum when you enroll in their programs.

In order to receive any smoking cessation medication, you must have a prescription from a TRICARE-authorized providerAn authorized provider is any individual, institution/organization, or supplier that is licensed by a state, accredited by national organization, or meets other standards of the medical community, and is certified to provide benefits under TRICARE. There are two types of TRICARE-authorized providers: Network and Non-Network..

Does TRICARE cover smoking cessation counseling?

In October 2008, TRICARE began coverage of smoking cessation counseling when provided by an authorized TRICARE provider. Patients and their providers can decide on a blend of individual and group sessions within the program guidelines. Find out more about smoking cessation counseling services covered by TRICARE.

You also can start finding support by contacting your installation’s cessation program through our online locator. And remember, you can get live personalized online support including real-time group chat sessions with expert cessation counselors as well as support from those who have quit tobacco or are in the process of quitting.

What are the signs of nicotine addiction?

Anyone who uses tobacco can become dependent on nicotine. Being dependent on nicotine means that you need nicotine to prevent withdrawal symptoms or to help you feel right. Smoke from cigarettes, cigars and pipes contains thousands of chemicals, including nicotine. Nicotine also is found in chewing tobacco.

Signs of nicotine dependence can include the following:

  • You can’t stop smoking or chewing tobacco. You have tried to quit one or more times before, but have not been able to quit for good.
  • You have strong withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop smoking or chewing tobacco. When you stop smoking or chewing, you crave tobacco, feel antsy, are easily upset, and can't focus. You may get headaches, feel tired, have an upset stomach, or even have constipation or diarrhea.
  • You keep smoking or chewing tobacco even though it has caused health problems. You have problems with your lungs or heart, but you haven't or can't stop using tobacco.
  • You skip social activities so you can smoke or chew. You may stop going to certain restaurants or spending time with certain friends or family members because you can't smoke or chew in these situations.

What kinds of drugs are available to help smokers quit?

There are nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) (e.g., nicotine gum, nicotine patch, nicotine nasal spray, nicotine inhaler and nicotine lozenge). There is also Zyban and the new stop smoking medication CHANTIX. Sometimes people will refer to Zyban as bupropion, which is the same drug but it is the generic name for Zyban. Other times, people will think Wellbutrin is used to treat smokers. Wellbutrin is actually a treatment for depression and is not used to treat smokers. Some health professionals prescribe Wellbutrin because insurers will reimburse for depression treatment where they typically will not reimburse for smoking treatment.

How do the nicotine replacement therapies work?

Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) provide the smoker with an alternative method for receiving nicotine. Rather than smoking or chewing tobacco, NRTs can be absorbed through the mouth (e.g., gum, inhaler, and lozenge), the skin (e.g., patch), and nasal mucosa (i.e, inside lining of the nose) in alternative forms that do not contain tobacco. Essentially, NRTs are designed to provide withdrawal relief and reduce the reinforcing effects of nicotine, which deconditions the intake of the nicotine. Deconditioning separates the nicotine addiction from the environmental cues that foster the addiction, making it easier for the smoker to quit the NRT.

Which nicotine-containing medication is more effective?

There is no one nicotine-containing medication (NRT) that has been singled out as being more effective. However, in a "heads up" comparison, Zyban outperformed the patch in helping smokers quit. Choosing the NRT that's best for you should be done with the help of a physician.

How does Zyban work?

Zyban was the first non-nicotine drug approved to help smokers quit. Essentially, it reduces withdrawal from cigarettes and helps with craving. Scientifically speaking, Zyban is a monocyclic antidepressant that works on the dopaminergic and the noradrenergic pathways.

What is CHANTIX? How does it work?

CHANTIX was developed specifically to treat nicotine dependence. It is a partial agonist with specificity for the a4ß2 receptor. So, what does that mean? Essentially, CHANTIX binds to and partially simulates the nicotine receptor site without creating a full nicotinic effect. This is called the agonist effect. In the presence of nicotine (when you inhale), the drug acts as an antagonist. That is, CHANTIX blocks the receptor, preventing nicotine from binding and thereby calming nicotine's effect.

What about medicine to quit chewing tobacco?

Quitting smokeless tobacco is very difficult because only the gum and Zyban have been found to be partially effective in helping users quit. One of the major reasons is the increased level of nicotine in smokeless tobacco.

The average cigarette averages from 8–14 milligrams of nicotine; whereas, the average pinch of chewing tobacco has about 40–60 milligrams of nicotine. Since nicotine is the addictive agent, you can see that, theoretically, smokeless tobacco users could in fact be more addicted than smokers. But, research notes that smokeless tobacco users do not experience withdrawal symptoms at the same intensity as smokers.

If I'm on a medication, can I still use CHANTIX?

Yes, there are no contraindications and 92–93 percent of CHANTIX* is excreted through the urine totally unchanged. Moreover, there are no drug–to–drug interactions.

What medicines can help you quit smoking? 

Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) and other medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to use tobacco, especially if you are nicotine dependent. You can get some of them over the counter in a drugstore or pharmacy. For others, you will need a prescription from your doctor. Used correctly, medications can double your chances of quitting smoking and staying quit.

The information provided on this site is:

  • Not a recommendation or prescription.
  • Not a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor.
When using NRTs and other medications, be sure to follow the directions on the package exactly. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice if you are uncertain about which medication to use or how to use it.

Some of these products contain nicotine, a chemical that causes addiction to tobacco products. When using NRT or other medicines to help you quit, it is very important that you do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco.

Many experts believe NRT is often taken for too short a time to be of full benefit to users. For this reason, your doctor may advise you to use your medicine for a longer period of time or to also use another medicine. If you take these medicines on your own, follow the package directions exactly.

If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, nursing, smoking fewer than 10 cigarettes per day, or have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before using any of these medications, even the ones that you can get without a prescription.

Keep these and all medications out of the reach of children and pets.

* NOTE: Serious neuropsychiatric symptoms have occurred in patients being treated with CHANTIX. All patients being treated with CHANTIX should be observed for neuropsychiatric symptoms including changes in behavior, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behavior. Patients attempting to quit smoking with CHANTIX and their families and caregivers should be alerted about the need to monitor for these symptoms and to report such symptoms immediately to the patient's healthcare provider. CHANTIX should not be used by personnel operating aircraft (including aircrew and air traffic controllers) and missile crew members.

Last Updated 6/13/2018