Why Is Quitting Smoking Hard?
The drug that makes cigarettes so addictive is called nicotine, and the reason why it's so hard to quit cold turkey is because your body begins to go through nicotine withdrawals. In order to avoid some of the most common withdrawal symptoms (which might include nausea, fatigue, anxiety, headache, and difficulty concentrating), many smokers choose to use nicotine replacement therapies to help them quit.
How Does a Nicotine Patch Work?
The nicotine patch is worn on the skin and delivers direct doses of the drug to help lessen your cravings and discomfort while you adjust to life without cigarettes.
The process of quitting smoking can take a while--especially if you've been addicted for years--so it's important to follow the recommended schedule as you taper off the drug. Most nicotine patches involve a three-step process that begins with a fairly sizeable dose of nicotine and then weans you off the drug over the course of six to eight weeks.
Most smokers start with patches that deliver 21 mg of nicotine per day. After two to four weeks, you can decide if you are ready to go down to the next patch, which has a dose of 14 mg. Finally, after at least two more weeks, you can switch to the 7 mg patch before stopping treatment entirely and kicking the habit for good.
What Kind of Nicotine Patch Should I Use?
Nicotine patches are available in two different varieties. 16-hour patches are recommended for light smokers who are trying to quit. These patches aren't worn overnight, so you are likely to have stronger cravings in the morning. Since you aren't wearing a patch 24 hours a day, however, most users experience fewer side effects.
Heavy smokers tend to need the 24-hour patch (at least when they first start quitting). These aids deliver a constant dose of nicotine, which may help cut cravings at all times of the day, but they may cause more side effects such as insomnia or other sleep disturbances.
How to Use Nicotine Patches
You will apply your nicotine patch directly to your skin once a day. You should choose an area of your body below the neck and above the waist, and make sure it is clean, dry, and hair-free. Peel off the backing from your patch (it will look a lot like a large bandage) and press the patch in place for about 10 seconds. Closely follow the directions for how long to wear the patch, and make sure to remove or change it on schedule. If skin irritation occurs, you can try moving each new patch to a different location on your body.
Combined with your own personal willpower, the use of nicotine patches may be just the push you need to give up smoking for good. Check out the options at drugstore.com today to help you get started.
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