Prozac may be the most recent darling of the drug industry, but it's nortriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant that has been on the market for some 30 years, that's igniting interest as a way to help smokers kick the habit.
In a study headed by Sharon Hall, Ph.D., professor of medical psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, nearly 200 smokers were given either nortriptyline or a placebo for 12 weeks. Of those taking the drug, 24% were able to stay smoke-free for one year; only 12% of the placebo group abstained.
Nortriptyline boosts levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine and seems to brighten moods, both of which may help people stop smoking. Still, the study confirms that quitting is a formidable task, even when taking the drug. Most subjects had started smoking again after 64 weeks.