A Complete Guide To The Nicotine Patches

If you’re a smoker and you’re trying to quit, you will soon discover that this is no easy feat. Once you have been smoking for a while, cigarettes become pretty addictive, and your body develops very strong cravings that are hard to ignore. In fact, your body learns to rely on nicotine. This is why smoking is so dangerous and why it’s so risky to “give it a try”. 


That being said, it is still possible to quit smoking. Especially nowadays since there are many different methods that have been developed to help you with the process. Many of these methods help to reduce cravings with alternatives and substitutes.

One of the most popular and common methods, used by those that wish to stop smoking, is the use of nicotine patches. They have become quite a common practice amongst those trying to quit their cigarettes, and so far, it is also one of the more effective methods, with some of the most promising results of success. 

But…what exactly are nicotine patches? And how do they work? How was this method developed and who is it for? Should you use nicotine patches in order to quit smoking? 

We can answer all of these questions and tell you everything that you need to know about them in this complete guide. 

Does That Sound Good? Then Let’s Get Right Into It! 

What Are Nicotine Patches? 

Let’s start by clarifying exactly what a nicotine patch is so that you can better understand what they do and why they are used. 

Put briefly, a nicotine patch is a tool used in nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), which is a method specifically created to help people quit smoking. As the name suggests, it is a patch. To be more precise, it is a transdermal patch. The patch is attached to the skin before it delivers a certain amount of nicotine that is fed into the bloodstream. This appeases the nicotine cravings of the body so that the person in question no longer has to smoke. 

The patches are designed so that they release the nicotine at a slow rate, so there is a continuous delivery of nicotine to keep the person from reaching for the cigarettes. In fact, nicotine patches are the product with the slowest release of nicotine out of all the NRT products available! This is probably why it is the most effective and popular, in general. 

Nicotine patches are made to be worn all throughout the day and even through the night as a constant replacement for smoking. The person’s cravings are satisfied so there is no need to smoke. And, at the very least, nicotine cravings are diminished. 

The nicotine patch has become the go-to for most smokers wanting to quit and it has been around for a while. It was first developed back in the 1980s, as soon as a team of health carers in California discovered that nicotine could be absorbed through the skin.

The nicotine patches were then tested and it quickly became apparent that they could help manage nicotine addictions, by releasing nicotine straight into the bloodstream at a slow pace, instead of getting a quick fix through a cigarette. 

Oh, and fun fact, there were no volunteers for the tests. Therefore, these health carers experimented on themselves! They did so first by rubbing tobacco leaves onto their skin and then recording the reactions from both their bodies and minds. Once they were satisfied with the results, they got a US patent (in 1988), and the rest is history! Today, nicotine patches are the most available solution to quit smoking! 

How Do You Use Nicotine Patches?

Nicotine patches are by far the most popular product in the market for those that are wanting to quit smoking and it is renowned for being the most effective (for most people). But…how exactly do you use nicotine patches? 

Here is a quick and simple guide, with the steps to take, for using nicotine patches: 

Choose The Right Nicotine Patch

Nicotine patches can be designed to contain different amounts of nicotine, concentrated in different strengths. The strength will determine the amount of nicotine that the patch supplies to the bloodstream over a 24-hour period. So the first thing you need to do is choose the right nicotine patch for you (depending on the severity of your nicotine addiction). 

Here are the different nicotine patches:

  • Low Strength (7mg per 24 hours)
  • Medium strength (14mg per 24 hours)
  • High strength (21mg per 24 hours)

You should choose the strength depending on the number of cigarettes that you would otherwise be smoking. So, for example, if you usually would smoke over 10 cigarettes a day, then you would start on a high-strength nicotine patch. 

You also have to remember that nicotine patches are not just a substitute for smoking, they are a way to slowly wean off the addiction to nicotine. So the aim is to slowly reduce the strength of the patches until eventually, you can make do without a patch altogether. 

Sometimes, the nicotine patches will come with a schedule of use, in which they give guidelines as to what amount of time should go by before you switch to a lower patch. But the most important thing is to talk to a professional about this and to come up with a schedule and plan that is suitable for you and your addiction. 

Apply The Patch Onto Your Skin

Once you have chosen the right nicotine patch for you, it’s time to actually apply it to your skin. This is pretty easy. Nicotine patches will always come with simple instructions for you to follow. Not to mention that there are plenty of video tutorials online if you need a visual. 

A nicotine patch looks like a large plaster. The outer border is an adhesive that will stick to your skin while the interior of the patch contains the nicotine that will be absorbed by your skin and inserted into the bloodstream. So you simply peel off the protective layer and stick the patch onto your skin! It should be in place with no problems at all. 

That being said, although it is simple, here are some tips that might help you:

  • Apply the patch to an area with as little hair as possible 
  • Clean and dry the skin before applying the patch, so that it attaches better
  • Once you remove the protective layer, apply the patch to your skin without delay. Do not fiddle around with it, or you might ruin the adhesive!
  • Stick the patch onto your skin and press down on it for around 10 seconds, to make sure it is properly attached
  • If the patch falls off or doesn’t feel secure, discard it and use a new one
  • To take off the patch, simply peel it away, fold it, and throw it away into the trash
  • Do not place a new patch on the same area of skin, until that area of skin has “rested” for at least one week

Pair The Nicotine Patch With Behavioral Therapy

Nicotine patches offer a solution to the nicotine craving, appeasing your body. But a smoking addiction is more than body cravings – it is a deeply rooted psychological addiction and dependency. This is why nicotine patches are not quite enough to stop you from smoking. You have to pair it with behavioral therapy in which you train your mind to not need cigarettes. Therefore, you tackle the entire psychological aspect of the issue. 

Should You Use Nicotine Patches?

Now that you know exactly what nicotine patches are and how they are used, you might be wondering whether they are the right solution for you. Should you use nicotine patches? Who do they work for? 

Nicotine patches can be beneficial and effective for all people that are wanting to quit smoking. There are other methods and products that you can use. You could even use them in conjunction with the nicotine patches, but as a general rule, nicotine patches are the most efficient and popular. Not to mention that they are usually the most accessible product within the market, as you can easily get them from stores. 

All of this being said, you should only use nicotine patches if you have a smoking addiction and are truly ready to quit smoking. Some people think that they can stop smoking by simply using the patches, without putting any other form of effort in, and without really making a conscious decision to stop consuming cigarettes. In which case, the nicotine patches aren’t going to work. 

The nicotine patches can be really good for tackling the addiction within your body, but you then need to tackle the addiction within your mind. 

Warnings And Side Effects For Nicotine Patches

The biggest warning that we want to give you about nicotine patches is that they contain nicotine. They are not completely risk-free. There are a few possible side effects that can come from using them (which we will discuss in a bit), but also, they can end up enabling the addiction. 

In fact, some people manage to quit smoking, only to then become addicted to the nicotine patches! So you have to be really careful when using them so that this doesn’t happen to you. You are supposed to slowly reduce the strength of the nicotine patches until you stop using them altogether, do not use them for too long. 

As for the main side effects that you need to watch out for, they are the following:

  • Skin irritation and redness
  • Headaches 
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Vivid dreams (especially when using the nicotine patches at night) 

If you get any side effects or any negative reactions from using the nicotine patches, you should stop using them immediately and seek out some professional medical advice. 

Final Thoughts

We hope that this guide has been helpful to you. We have tried to include all of the basic information about what nicotine patches are, how they work, and what you need to watch out for when using them. 

The main takeaway is that they are by far the most popular product in nicotine replacement therapy and they are proven to be very effective when paired with behavioral therapy. Nicotine patches address the nicotine addiction within the body. Once you have tried these patches, you need to address the psychological aspects regarding smoking within your mind. 

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