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A Perspective on Using Nicotine Replacement Therapy

"I quit smoking using the nicotine patch as directed on January 13, 2002."

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Updated February 13, 2007

A Perspective on Using Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Michelle Boisvert

I'd like to share my experience with the nicotine patch. I researched the various NRT’s months before my quit date, and I decided that for various reasons, 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 NRT’s. When the patch is used as directed, the 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 double the chances of long-term quit smoking success (1). Each person commiting to quit smoking should seek medical advice and, if interested, discuss the various options for nicotine replacement therapy. You will want to learn more about the possible side effects of NRT's. There are also contraindications for the patch as well as other NRT’s, and every person should make an informed decision about which (if any) NRT to use.

NRT’s are effective when used as directed and when the person is committed to quitting. If an individual does not really want to quit smoking and is not devoted to that goal, the patch will not be effective. The patch, when used as directed, offers a gradual decrease in nicotine while the person works 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.

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 a Hell Week because of horrible 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 4 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.

NRT's 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 NRT's have all stated that they are not recommended for long-term use.

When NRT's 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.

(1) Center for Tobacco Cessation

More from Michelle:
Michelle's Quit Story
Michelle's 1 Year Milestone
Michelle's 2 Year Milestone
Michelle's 3 Year Milestone
Michelle's 4 Year Milestone
Michelle's 5 Year Milestone
Patience With the Process
There is No Substitute for Time
Depression When You Quit Smoking
Smoking and Degenerative Disc Disease

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