For many people thinking about quitting smoking, nicotine patches are the first step on the journey to a cigarette-free lifestyle. Patches belong to a group of smoking cessation treatments referred to as nicotine replacement products. This means that instead of eliminating the nicotine one would normally inhale from smoking cigarettes, the patches replace the nicotine at a lower, steady dose to ween off cravings.
Nicotine is a toxic and addictive chemical compound found in the tobacco plant and, in smokers, it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs upon inhalation. Nicotine patches work by slowly releasing nicotine which is absorbed into the body through the skin. While releasing a toxic substance into the skin might at first seem frightening, the health risks involved are significantly lower than those of smoking; in fact, serious side effects are uncommon and the patches do not contain many of the dangerous, cancer-causing substances contained in tobacco.
Nicotine patches come in two types: 16-hour patches and 24-hour patches. The 16-hour patches are only worn throughout the day and removed before going to bed. These come in strengths of 5mg, 10mg, or 15mg of nicotine, while the 24-hour patches range in higher nicotine strengths from 7mg to 14mg to 21mg. If the advice on the Consumer Medicine Information sheet included in the patch packet is followed, then over the course of one day patch users should absorb around two-thirds the does of nicotine that they would normally inhale from smoking a pack of cigarettes in a day.
Your doctor or pharmacist can help you decide which strength patch is best for you. Normally, it is suggested that you begin on a higher dosage, which is gradually reduced. But this can vary depending on age, weight and state of health. For heavy smokers (more than 15 cigarettes per day), a patch course might include the use of a “Pre-Quit” patch, which is worn for two weeks before your quitting date at the same time as cutting back the number of cigarettes smoked per day.
According to quit.org,au, research shows that if you’re addicted to smoking and use the nicotine patch properly, you are nearly twice as likely to quit and stay stopped. Nicotine patches are recommended for most people as a safe and effective way to quit smoking. They are available for purchase through most pharmacies, supermarkets, and can be obtained at a reduced price through a medical prescription from your doctor. If you have an illness or long-term skin condition it is best to consult your doctor or pharmacist before using nicotine patches.
The lower dosage and less addictive nature of nicotine patches compared to cigarettes makes it easier for smokers to quit. Because of the gradual reduction of nicotine, the impact of withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability, and concentration lapse is significantly reduced.