Medication and nicotine replacement therapy, including nicotine patches, improve a smoker's chance of quitting by a factor of two to three. When using nicotine patches, the former smoker should continue using replacement therapy for at least two to three months.
These patches provide a low dose of nicotine that helps to prevent the body's physical craving for the addictive substance. They are free from the other harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke. The lower dose of the patch makes it much less likely that the user becomes addicted to the replacement medication.
When attempting to quit smoking, a visit with a doctor is often helpful. The doctor can discuss the types of nicotine replacement therapy available and the types of products that the patient can use together. He can also prescribe medication to reduce the urge to smoke or block the effect of nicotine if the smoker tries to start smoking again. Patients who are pregnant or use other medication should talk with their doctor before using the patch.
Although medication reduces the urge to smoke, it does not eliminate all cravings. The smoker sometimes needs to use other techniques to manage them. The smoker's health begins to improve within hours of his last cigarette.