Nicotine patches are small sticky patches, infused with nicotine, that smokers stick on their arm or thigh.
The idea of how they are supposed to work is that the patch allows nicotine to slowly seep through the skin. This is supposed to help smokers to quit by providing their regular "fix" of nicotine without the need to light up a cigarette
Also different nicotine patches contain different amounts of nicotine. This enables the smoker to gradually change the patch they use. They begin by using a patch that contains a high amount of nicotine and then change to one with a lower and lower amount so that, in theory, they are eventually weaned off their addiction to nicotine and so no longer need to smoke.
But while this seems good in theory, in reality it doesn't work.
Studies have been done on the effectiveness of nicotine patches and the findings were quite amazing.
A study group of smokers who wanted to quit were used. All of them had to quit by going "cold turkey". This meant that they stopped smoking all at once, not gradually.
The study group was divided into three smaller groups. The first group was given no help in giving up smoking. The second group was given nicotine patches, and the third group was given placebos (fake patches). The second and third group was not told which group had the real nicotine patches and which had the placebos.
At the end of the one year study 11.5% of the first group who were given no help managed to quit smoking. Out of the second group that were given nicotine patches, 11.8% of them quit and out of the third group who had the placebos, 12.6% had managed to quit. (See http://whyquit.com/whyquit/A_OTCPatch.html for more information on the study).
So what does all this prove?
Mostly it proves that the nicotine patches didn't work because almost just as many people gave up without using the patches. And, what is most amazing, is that even more people were able to quit using the placebos.
This means that it's mostly the belief in the patches that works rather than the actual patches themselves, although the placebo patches did actually contain an "undisclosed" amount of nicotine.
The real problem with nicotine is that, as with any drug, your body builds up a tolerance to it and so you need it more and more. This is why nicotine patches alone don't work.
You have to have a strong determination to stop smoking if you wan to truly succeed.
Nicotine patches, or any other quit smoking aid, won't take away your desire to light up a cigarette and enjoy the feeling and the taste of the smoke as it flows down your throat and into your lungs.
That's what you're really missing whenever you try to quit smoking. And the only way to get rid of you unwanted urge to smoke, is to do it the same way you started.