Trying to quit? Quitting smoking isn’t easy. Learning about the available products is an important step to success. Among the top recommended smoking cessation aids available is the nicotine patch.
Do nicotine patches work? On average, potential ex smokers try 9 times before successfully dropping the habit. Success rates for smoking cessation are 2 times greater with use of a nicotine replacement product. No product makes quitting easy, but each seeks to aid you along the path of success. It’s important to understand how nicotine replacement products work for greater success in your smoking cessation plan.
How do the patches work? Nicotine patches work by delivering a steady dose of nicotine into your blood stream. You can imagine this steady dose as a base-line reserve of nicotine. Although this reserve of nicotine may reduce your body’s withdraw from nicotine, many patients still experience irresistible cravings. Why do cravings still occur? We will need to examine the cause of cravings.
What are cravings caused by? Normally when you smoke, your body receives small quick doses of nicotine. Nicotine reaches your brain within 11 seconds of inhalation. These quick bursts of nicotine release chemicals in your brain that contribute to addiction. When you take away the quick bursts of brain chemicals, your body is left with an imbalance.
A great way to explain the imbalance is a sea-saw effect. If you had spent so much time with a friend on a sea-saw, you are imbalanced once the friend leaves. Once your friend leaves you are stuck with a lopsided sea-saw, one end in the air and one on the ground. Your body is the sea-saw and your friend (or enemy) is nicotine. Nicotine patches work by putting a new friend on the other side. Your new friend is much lighter but also more steady. This new friend will help you slowly lower yourself to the ground over a few months time, until you are ready to quit.
Nicotine patches come as a gradual step program, meaning the dose of the patch may change over time. Your particular starting dose will depend on how many cigarettes you smoke per day, as well as professional judgement. Most pharmacists are highly trained in the area of smoking cessation. Please do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist or physician for help designing a smoking cessation plan. If you are pregnant, on any medication, or have any disease state, it is important to consult your physician for the pros and cons of using smoking cessation products.
To have the greatest success with any smoking cessation plan, a multitude of approaches may be used. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently reported that core intervention by health care professionals is vital for success. Social support systems are critical for smoking cessation. Some physicians may recommend multiple smoking cessation products to do the job. One example would be the addition of nicotine gum to the nicotine patch. Eliminating behavioral triggers and habits are also key to success.
Most common side effects of the nicotine patch include bad nightmares, dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and redness/soreness at the patch site. Please discuss these side effects with your physician or pharmacist. If unusual “hellish” nightmares occur, patch may be taken off before sleeping and reapplied upon wakening. As a disclaimer, please consult a healthcare professional before starting a smoking cessation plan.
Overall, the nicotine patch is a great start to a smoking cessation program. I hope learning more about addiction and the patch will increase your chances for quitting success. Quit smoking today!
Sources: NicotineCQ, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention