The Nicotine Patch: Will it work for you?


Some years ago a behavioral psychologist studying nausea accidentally spilled a vial of liquid nicotine on his arm. Within minutes, he felt nausea and nervousness — classic symptoms of nicotine ingestion. From this experience was born the concept of the nicotine patch — a skin patch that contains the nicotine equivalent of about half a pack of cigarettes. The nicotine is absorbed directly through the skin.

Using the Patch

Here’s how it works: You apply a fresh nicotine patch, available over the counter or by prescription, to your chest, arm or hip each morning. The patch lasts for either 16 or 24 hours, depending on the type. Over the next six weeks the dose of nicotine in the patches is gradually decreased. At the end of six weeks you are nicotine-free.

Coping with Psychological Addiction

The patch helps you overcome the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, such as cravings, irritability and lack of concentration. The patch can be effective by itself, but can be made more effective by using other smoking cessation methods concurrently.

Nicotine Patches — the Disadvantages

  1. Some people experience side effects with nicotine patches. There may be a slight skin irritation where the patch is applied. And you may experience vivid dreams, sweating, diarrhea, nervousness, insomnia or muscle pain.
  2. Nicotine patches may seem like they are expensive, but turn ou to be equivalent to what most people spend on cigarette purchases. Some insurance companies even cover the cost of the nicotine patch.
  3. Of course, you must quit smoking cold-turkey to use a nicotine patch. Some studies have suggested an increased rate of heart attack and stroke in those who smoke while using a nicotine patch.

Every stop-smoking method cures some of the people some of the time. If you’ve tried other methods and failed, the nicotine patch may just be the right approach for you. Call the Williams College Health Center at x2206 for more information.