Nicotine patch as nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation
Nicotine patch, also known as smoking patches, non-smoking patches or anti-smoking patches, release the active substance nicotine almost completely at a constant rate to the body through the skin into the blood. In this way, they ensure a constant level of nicotine in the blood and thus reduce the desire for a cigarette. The main symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, which can be alleviated with the help of the patch, are, in addition to the desire to smoke, internal restlessness, increased appetite, increased irritability and concentration problems.
There are two types of nicotine patches, the 16-hour patch and the 24-hour patch. While a 16-hour patch is left on the skin for 16 hours during the day, a 24-hour patch remains on the body for an entire day and night. The 16-hour patch is usually sufficient for less heavy smokers. Since it is removed before going to bed and the nicotine level in the blood drops overnight, it is suitable for smokers who do not feel the irresistible urge for a first cigarette immediately after getting up or in the course of the morning. The new patch is stuck on in the morning, the release of nicotine to the blood takes place slowly and evenly, so that a sufficiently high nicotine level has to build up in the blood again. With a 24-hour patch, on the other hand, the desired effect remains constant in the morning to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
There are also transparent ones.
Chances of success
Nicotine patches can significantly increase the chances of success in giving up smoking.
A very important requirement in this regard is that you have a firm will to quit smoking. In order to achieve or maintain this basic attitude, supportive medical care may be useful or, under certain circumstances, the use of the nicotine patch as part of a smoking cessation program.
Advantages and disadvantages of nicotine patch
The patch must be used regularly and in a disciplined manner. The great advantage is that, unlike cigarettes, no carcinogenic pollutants, carbon monoxide or tar products are absorbed into the body. At the same time, the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms are alleviated if you stop smoking with the help of a nicotine patch. Skin irritation caused by changing the patch can prove to be disadvantageous in sensitive skin.
Compared to other forms such as nicotine lozenges or nicotine nasal sprays, the smoker’s patches have the advantage that the dose of active ingredient is evenly and consistently released into the blood through the patch membrane throughout the day. Sprays and lozenges, on the other hand, have to be used several times a day. With regard to regular intake, this presupposes an increased willingness of the patient to actively participate, i.e. increased so-called compliance. If this subsides in the course of therapy, the use of lozenges and nasal sprays can lead to the discontinuation of nicotine withdrawal therapy more quickly than nicotine patches.
How is the nicotine patch used?
If you want to quit smoking, you should apply the patch in the morning to an area of skin between the neck and waist that is as free as possible and that is clean and dry. The upper arm or the chest is most suitable for this. The patch should be pressed firmly onto the skin for 10 to 20 seconds. It is important to change the place where the patch is applied daily to prevent possible skin irritation. If possible, the patch should not be removed and should remain on the body for the entire period of time provided. If you want to shower or swim, you need to find out whether this is possible with the respective patches. If necessary, a waterproof plaster can be stuck over it.
If necessary, you can remove the plaster for a shower, but no more than once or twice, and stick the outer adhesive edge to a clean, dry and grease-free surface, for example the bathroom cabinet or mirror. In this case, the smoker’s patch is stuck on the same area of skin again after showering.
When does the nicotine patch work?
As soon as the smoker’s patch is stuck on, it takes about 30 to 60 minutes for it to work.
Are nicotine patches harmful in combination with smoking?
For smokers with a high potential for addiction, whereby around 30 cigarettes per day can serve as a guideline, it may make sense under certain circumstances to start anti-smoking patch therapy two weeks before stopping the cigarette. Smoking despite nicotine patches or the combination of nicotine patches and smoking is basically possible at the beginning of anti-smoking therapy for a short period of time. However, overdose symptoms can occur.
The optimal solution is therefore to quit smoking completely and start using the nicotine patch at the same time. In this way, the risk of overdosing the active ingredient nicotine is definitely reduced and undesirable side effects are prevented.
Smoking and nicotine should generally be avoided during pregnancy. Since nicotine is harmful to health and is also absorbed by infants with breast milk, smoking and nicotine patches should be avoided not only during pregnancy but also when breastfeeding.
Likewise, nicotine preparations should not be used or only under medical supervision in the case of vascular diseases, for example with narrowing of the coronary arteries, greatly increased blood pressure, circulatory disorders in the arms and legs. Nicotine withdrawal therapy is also not recommended for diseases such as severe heart failure, overactive thyroid gland, diabetes, which must be treated with insulin, and acute gastric and intestinal ulcers.
Anti-smoking patches should not be used after a heart attack and after a stroke or in the case of chronic inflammation of the skin and skin diseases affecting the whole body, for example psoriasis.
Overdose and side effects
Overdosing on nicotine patches shows the same signs as excessive smoking: dizziness, fatigue, nausea, cold sweats, vomiting, and diarrhea. Additional symptoms of poisoning are a drop in body temperature, breathing, hearing and visual disorders and cramps.
Skin reactions can occur as side effects. If these persist for more than a day, nicotine withdrawal therapy should be discontinued for safety reasons. Occasionally it can also lead to muscle pain, tension and taste disturbances.
Buy nicotine patches: purchase advice
Nicotine patches do not require a prescription or pharmacy, so you don’t need a doctor’s prescription to buy them and you can also buy them in drugstores. The most convenient way to do this is to buy the nicotine patches online.
There are three different strengths for both the 16-hour patch version and the 24-hour patch version: 24.9 mg, 16.6 mg and 8.3 mg of nicotine for the 16-hour patch and 52.5 mg, 35 mg and 17.5 mg nicotine for the 24-hour patch.
The dosage regimen depends on previous cigarette consumption. In the case of heavy smokers, this is divided into three phases: First, a plaster with the highest dose is applied every day over a period of 4-6 weeks. In the following 2-4 weeks the nicotine patch with the second highest dose is used and during the following 2-4 weeks the anti-smoking patch with the lowest nicotine content is used. If necessary, chain smokers can use the lowest plaster strength even longer. In total, it can take 3 months to quit nicotine.
In contrast, for smokers who do not consume more than 10-20 cigarettes per day, withdrawal therapy may be limited to the last two phases. Then an application of the second highest and the lowest dose is sufficient.
Price & cost of nicotine patches
The costs differ depending on the nicotine concentration per patch and can vary depending on the brand.
The average and low patch strengths of the Nicotinell 24-hour patches did the best in test ratings. The costs here are $3.77 per patch for the medium nicotine concentration and $2.74 per patch for the low nicotine concentration. In second place are the medium and low patches strengths of the 16-hour patches from the Nicorette brand at $3.22 and $2.74 per patch, respectively. In third place are the three 24-hour patch levels from the NiQuitin Clear brand with $3.37, $3.03 and $4.33 per patch.
If you extrapolate the costs per patch over a period of the recommended therapy duration of 3 months, the total costs are around $200. In comparison, consuming 10 cigarettes per day over the same period already costs $220.
The experience reports with the nicotine patches are mostly positive. In some cases it has been shown to be helpful for heavy smokers to chew nicotine gum every now and then as needed in addition to the patch in order to persevere. This combination apparently provides additional relief. Under no circumstances should two patches be used at the same time, but in this case the dosage should be adjusted.
The plasters are also rated positively if the nicotine withdrawal could not be sustained and the withdrawal therapy had to be discontinued. The basic opinion and experience of most users is that they would not have persevered or not as long as nicotine withdrawal without the support of the nicotine patch. Above all, the relief of inner restlessness is emphasized. Even users who had to break off the withdrawal confirm the noticeable effect and feel encouraged to attempt another withdrawal.You can find more information on how nicotine replacement products work here: Nicotine replacement: How to finally become a non-smoker!