If nicotine is addictive, why are we using nicotine patches to quit smoking, you ask? Because, while nicotine is a highly addictive substance, it is the least dangerous element in a cigarette. The danger comes from the over 7,000 chemicals that are released when you light up a cigarette and inhale the smoke. However, nicotine is the reason why you can't stop smoking. So theoretically, if your addiction to nicotine is met, there is less temptation for you to light a cigarette. Do you follow the logic?
So what exactly are nicotine patches?
A nicotine patch is a transdermal, or medicated adhesive patch, which continuously secretes low doses of nicotine into the bloodstream through the skin. The presence of nicotine in the body through nicotine replacement therapy will help manage nicotine withdrawal cravings due to smoking cessation.
The effectiveness of nicotine patches varies depending on the brand, users' level of dependency and methodology of back end studies. However, the general consensus is that one in ten smokers (10.8%) is able to quit smoking using nicotine patches.
It is critical that users completely stop smoking for at least several hours before using nicotine patches. Otherwise, the level of nicotine in your body will skyrocket. Not only will this make quitting more difficult, it could also lead to other health concerns - notably, nicotine poisoning.
Treatments typically take between ten and twelve weeks to complete - though it could last much longer for heavy smokers.
Withdrawal symptoms usually peak on the third day of quitting, so the key to successfully completing the treatment by using the patches regularly. Irregular use of either the 16-hour or 24-hour patches (both 15 and 25mg) will leave you vulnerable to cravings between the 48 and 72-hour mark.
Since nicotine patches are available over the counter, please do extensive research before committing to a brand. Be especially wary of low-priced herbal patches which sometimes don't even use nicotine! The NHS Stop Smoking Service also offer free nicotine replacement therapy products, so don't forget to check them out before making a purchase.
Many users report no side effects from using nicotine patches. However, a small number have reported one or more of the following symptoms:
- Blurry vision
- Sense of melancholia
- Dizziness, light-headedness and vertigo
- Itching and/or burning sensation on the application area
- Racing heartbeat
- Tiredness and general muscular weakness
- Upset stomach
- Vivid dreams
Speak to your doctor if any of the side effects cross your discomfort threshold.