Medicines to Help You Quit

Are you a TRICARE beneficiary or a veteran enrolled in the Veterans’ Affairs (VA) health care system? If so, you can get tobacco cessation medications such as over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies and prescription medications to help you quit tobacco. At no cost to you, TRICARE beneficiaries can receive medications through the TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery and military pharmacies, and VA health care enrollees can receive medications through the VA pharmacy. All you need is a prescription from your primary care provider or another health care professional. Smoking cessation medications are not covered at retail pharmacies.

Visit TRICARE’s Smoking Cessation Page
Visit the VA’s Smoking Cessation Page

Used correctly, medicines can double your chances of quitting and staying quit, especially if you are nicotine dependent. While medicines alone can’t do all the work, they can make quitting and nicotine withdrawal less difficult.

Some medicines have nicotine in them and are called Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs). Others do not contain nicotine, but they reduce nicotine cravings or help with nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

You can get some of these medicines over the counter without a prescription. For others, you need a prescription from your doctor.

Click on the links below to learn more about tobacco cessation medications:

Information on this site is not a recommendation or prescription. It is not a substitute for the advice of a doctor or pharmacist.

Thinking About Using Nicotine Gum, Patch, Inhaler, Spray or Lozenge?

Products like nicotine gum or patches give you low doses of nicotine to replace the nicotine from cigarettes or smokeless tobacco. NRTs can help with nicotine withdrawal and lessen your urge to smoke.

You need a prescription to buy a nicotine inhaler or nasal spray. But you can buy nicotine gum, nicotine patches, and nicotine lozenges over the counter.

When using an NRT, it's important to remember:

  • Be patient. Using NRT correctly can take some getting used to. Follow the instructions and give it time.
  • Don’t mix tobacco and NRT. Your goal is to quit smoking or chewing for good, so use NRT only when you are ready to quit. If you do slip up, don’t give up on NRT. Keep trying.
  • Start out using enough medicine. Use the full amount of NRT suggested in the instructions. Don’t skip or forget to use your NRT after you first stop smoking or chewing.
  • Slowly use less and less medicine. Don’t stop completely until you’re ready. You can set up a schedule with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Keep some of the medicine with you after you stop using NRT. This way, you’ll be ready for an emergency.

Other Medicines With No Nicotine

Bottom Line: If you choose to use medicines, 
check with your doctor or pharmacist first. People
with certain health conditions may not be able to
use NRTs or other quitting medicines. Also, make
sure to follow all medicine instructions.

Medicines like Zyban and CHANTIX* contain no nicotine, but they can help with withdrawal when you quit and can lessen the urge to smoke or chew. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if these medicines may be right for you. You may need a prescription for these medicines.

* 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 health care provider. CHANTIX should not be used by personnel operating aircraft (including aircrew and air traffic controllers) and missile crew members.