How the Nicotine Patch Helped Me Quit Smoking

Ex-Smoker Michelle's Perspective on NRTs

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Sometimes the best advice comes from direct experience, as in this case. Ex-smoker Michelle quit smoking with the help of the nicotine patch.  She details her experience with it below, so that other smokers who are ready to quit can have a perspective on using NRTs. 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience, Michelle.

From Michelle:

I'd like to share my experience with the nicotine patch. I researched the various NRTs months before my quit date, and decided that the patch was the right tool for me.

The American Lung Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society along with many other health organizations endorse the use of NRTs for smoking cessation.

When the patch is used as directed, nicotine is absorbed slowly by the system, and the 21mg patch is the equivalent of about 1 pack of cigarettes per day. Those who smoke 10 or fewer cigarettes per day are directed to start with the 14mg patch.

Nicotine patches can increase the chances of quit smoking success by 50 to 70 percent,  and the odds are improved even more when it's used along with another non-nicotine quit aid like Zyban.

If you're ready to quit smoking and want to use the patch or another NRT, discuss the various options with your doctor before deciding. You will want to learn more about the possible side effects of NRTs.

There are also contraindications for the patch as well as other NRTs, and every person should make an informed decision about which (if any) NRT to use.

NRTs are effective when used as directed and when you are committed to quitting. If you don't really want to quit smoking and aren't devoted to that goal, the patch will not be effective.

The patch, when used as directed, offers a gradual decrease in nicotine while new ex-smokers work on the psychological aspects of quitting. Those who understand the role that the patch plays in the quitting process can benefit from the step-down approach it offers.

Michelle's Experience with the Nicotine Patch

I smoked 2 packs a day for 15 years. I quit smoking using the nicotine patch as directed on January 13, 2002. It was my first attempt at quitting, so I cannot compare the method I used to other methods. I do not know how much of a role the patch played in my success so far, but these things I do know:

  • The patch did not put more nicotine into my body than smoking did.
  • I did not become addicted to the patch.
  • I was not in denial.
  • I did not have horrible nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
  • The physical adjustment when stepping down from one level to the next was minimal and short-lived.
  • I used the patch, and I have not had a cigarette in over 15 years.

Those are my facts. Would I have been as successful without the patch? I don’t know...maybe, but I would have been much more uncomfortable during the first week, and that's a crucial time in the quit process.

I know that once I made up my mind to quit, I wanted to make sure that I gave myself the very best chance of succeeding, and for me, that meant using the patch.

NRTs are not for everyone, and I think those who decide to use the patch or any other NRT as a replacement for smoking rather than as a tool for cessation will be disappointed. Manufacturers of NRTs have all stated that they are not recommended for long-term use.

When NRTs are used as directed, they can help people quit smoking.

When cigarettes are used as directed, they kill people.

I applaud everyone who has been successful in quitting smoking, however the goal is achieved. However someone quits successfully is the right way to quit.

Just quit...please.

Michelle is right that NRTs, or any other quit aid for that matter are just that: aids.

  The commitment to quit smoking must come from you. Once that is in place, any quit aid will provide the help it's meant to.

More from Michelle:
Depression When You Quit Smoking
Smoking and Degenerative Disc Disease

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