You might think it unbelievable, but nicotine patch addiction is a reality! Smokers who try to quit using nicotine patches or other replacement therapies often report being unable to come off the patches or gum for many more months than expected in the pharmaceutical company’s guide literature.
OK, on the face of it, putting up with nicotine patch addiction is far less harmful to your health than smoking tobacco, but it is going to be an enormous drain on your finances in the long run!
Looking at the concept of using nicotine patches to help you quit might seem like a good idea but in my opinion it most definitely isn’t. A patch merely provides you with an alternative source of nicotine than cigarettes so it is reasonable to expect that you may succumb to nicotine patch addiction.
The bad news is that on the slim chance that you quit smoking using this approach (see later in this article) there is a good chance you will no longer be a smoker but you will succumb to nicotine patch addict instead! Worse still, if you manage to wean yourself off the patch, there is a good chance you will succumb to smoking again because you have not addressed the core relationship you have with tobacco.
You see, the reason why you smoke cigarettes is because of nicotine addiction so staying addicted to nicotine (by using patches) is going to increase your susceptibility to want to smoke and therefore put yourself back at square one – a smoker. If you are not addicted to nicotine, you will have no need to smoke will you?
When nicotine patches were first launched, a little after nicotine gum, there were some very skewed studies conducted on the effectiveness of the approach. It has since come to light that the original claims of 40-50% made in the late 1970s and early 1980s are complete flannel! The accepted improvement in your chances is from 5% with cold turkey to 10% with nicotine patches although there is still room for debate:
According to Chen et al., “Randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study of transdermal nicotine patch for smoking cessation” J Formos Medical Association, 97(8), 547-51, August 1998, “… there was no statistically significant difference between the two groups of smokers (one group on nicotine patch and one group on placebo patch) after one year of follow-up.”
The same can be said now of newer approaches like Chantix and Zyban to help you quit smoking. Original studies on both of these drugs have reported success rates that have not been repeatable in independent studies. Original studies were funded by the pharmaceutical companies so there was a motive to report very high success rates.
In my opinion, becoming free of nicotine is the only way to stop smoking and to become tobacco free for life you must change your attitude towards tobacco and your relationship with tobacco. Cognitive behavioural therapy is just such an approach for quitting smoking. It helps smokers look at each facet of their addiction and smoking and guides them to changing their attitudes to them.
Unlike nicotine replacement therapies, cognitive behavioral therapies and hypnosis (for example) work on the core foundation that more of the addictive substance is not going to help you. In my view, staying away from nicotine replacement patches is a good way of staying away from nicotine patch addiction.