Nicotine patches are perhaps the most well-known nicotine supplement on the market, and remain a common, low-maintenance choice for most former smokers.
But how do they work?
Nicotine patches are transdermal patches used for the slow release of nicotine into the bloodstream through the skin.
The first trials were conducted in 1984 by Jed Rose, Daniel Rose, and Murray Jarvik, followed by Rose Et Al. study in 1985, which showed that nicotine supplementation could reduce cravings of smokers who recently quit.
After a lengthy competition between The University of California, Frank Etscorn, and Rose Et Al, the US Patent Office finally awarded the patent to Rose Et Al in 1993.
How They Work
Typically worn from 16 to 24 hours, nicotine patches require daily replacement for effectiveness, and it is not recommended that use continues after 8-12 weeks without consulting with a medical professional.
They release smaller doses of nicotine into the bloodstream via the skin, using a slow release rate to spread the dose out over a longer period of time, providing a base level of withdrawal relief, and hopefully culling any need for a cigarette.
The Benefits Of Patches
First and foremost, they will help to reduce the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, offering you a safer alternative to smoking or vaping. They should also reduce headaches, irritability, and cravings.
They are also easy to use, widely available in pharmacies and supermarkets, and can be used to slowly deliver a controlled dose of nicotine over the course of the whole day.
If one isn’t enough, they can safely be paired with other nicotine products, such as nasal spray, lozenges, toothpicks, or gum to reach the desired level and curb any untoward side effects of quitting smoking.
Another benefit is that they are discreet, allowing you to personally control your cravings without outside interference, concern, or questioning.
Whereas constantly chewing nicotine gum might be obvious, as with nicotine inhalers and other products, patches are subtle and demand little effort once applied.
Dosage should be carefully considered and monitored when using patches.
People who have recently quit smoking shouldn’t dive right in with a high dosage, as this could cause relapse, or the presence of too much nicotine being in the body, resulting in nausea akin to nicotine sickness.
The first 4 to 6 weeks should consist of 15-22mg daily for the best results, decreasing the dosage incrementally following that, with the ultimate goal being complete nicotine abstinence.
It is also important not to smoke whilst wearing a nicotine patch, as this could lead to a nicotine overdose, which can include nausea, shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, heart palpitations, and cold sweats.
If this occurs, stop smoking and remove the patch, and seek medical attention immediately.
When To Increase Intake
There are certain periods of the day where withdrawal symptoms might increase or become more severe, and during this time it is perfectly fine to increase your intake of nicotine.
However, that doesn’t mean to smoke a cigarette, but instead to take nicotine gum, lozenges, a toothpick, or other medically designed products in tandem with the patch you are wearing.
Can You Cut Them In Half?
On the most part, it is perfectly fine to cut a nicotine patch in half.
This is particularly beneficial when attempting to decrease your daily dosage of nicotine, and is a good, gradual way of completely weaning your body and brain off of the drug completely.
Most patches, like Nicoderm, have the nicotine dissolved into the glue on the patch, meaning that anywhere the patch is sticky, there is potential nicotine to be absorbed.
As a result, this means that cutting the patch in any way should allow it to continue working.
Another benefit is that this will make your nicotine patches last longer, as you are effectively doubling the amount you have.
Nicotine supplements can be expensive (purposely to encourage abstinence), so this can really save money if you can handle the lessened amount of nicotine the half patch will deliver.
This does however depend on the type of patch and the brand you purchase.
There are two kinds of patches, layered and reservoir, and depending on which you have, cutting could cause problems or product failure.
Layered nicotine patches are standard and adhesive coated like a bandaid, and with this type of patch, cutting them in half will have the desired effect.
Reservoir patches on the other hand are absorbent layers of material with the medical nicotine in the center, so cutting these could cause the nicotine to leak out of the cut end, as well as compromising the slow release function and causing an unpredictable dose of nicotine to transfer onto your skin.
It is always recommended to read and follow the instructions provided by your pharmacist or the company, and to not deviate without positive feedback.
If you think the dosage is too strong for you, or you would just prefer a lower dose to gently ease the symptoms of withdrawal, the best method might just be to request and purchase a lower dose set of patches from your pharmacist.
This removes any worry or concern surrounding cutting the patches, and will ensure that you get a specific, requested dose that will be perfectly efficient.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about nicotine patches, including dosages, benefits, potential side effects, and whether it is really a good idea to cut them in half.
Hopefully this article can provide you with the information you need, and help point you in the right direction in your journey to quit smoking for good.
Remember, there are many different options and outlets to help you with withdrawals and cravings, so why not check them out and see what works for you?
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