In today’s society, the dangers of tobacco use and smoking are well-known and publicised. Methods of quitting addictive tobacco are highly sought after to combat the health risks. Nicotine replacement therapies, or the well-known nicotine patch, are among the most popular choices for decreasing nicotine dependence.
Despite the popularity, the question remains: do nicotine free pouches actually work? And if so, how do they work?
What are nicotine patches?
Nicotine patches, or pouches, were FDA approved in 1991. It initially started as a prescription-only solution but has been available over the counter since 1996.
Nicotine replacement therapies come in a few different forms, including salt nicotine juice, vapes, lozenges, gum, and inhalers. While new nicotine replacement therapies have emerged, the patch remains a foundational method to quitting tobacco use.
The patch itself is usually just a square clear or tan bandage. The size is based on the brand and dosage. It is applied once a day to dry, clean, hairless skin and worn between 16 and 24 hours a day.
So, can you quit smoking with nicotine pouches? The pouches work to continue providing your body with a controlled, consistent nicotine dosage throughout the day. This reduces the nicotine withdrawal effects as your body adjusts to no nicotine. Over time, the patch strength will decline, and you will gradually decrease your body’s dependence on nicotine.
Consistent use is essential and directly relates to the effectiveness of the patch. It is also easy to use, making it one of the most effective nicotine replacement therapy options.
Patch dosage strength
Typically, nicotine patches have different levels of dosage based on what strength you need. This can be 21, 14, or 7 milligrams, which is how much nicotine is in the patch. You start with the higher dosage and, per instructions, drop to lower dosages until you do not need the patch anymore.
Nicotine and health risks
Nicotine is a naturally occurring chemical found in tobacco plants, which is used in cigarette manufacturing. Tobaccos use is the leading cause of preventable cancer, and there are an estimated 5.4 million tobacco-caused deaths per year as of this 2015 study.
Traditional cigarettes contain 10 to 20 mg of nicotine, and about 1 to 2 mg of that is absorbed by your body when you smoke. Juul, the most popular brand of vape, contains 50 mg of nicotine.
Health risks of nicotine intake stem from its addictive nature that leads to nicotine withdrawal.
Weaning yourself off of nicotine has its side effects, even with patches. Side effects range from disrupted sleep and vivid dreams to an itchy sensation when first wearing the patch. If you have trouble sleeping with the patch, take it off and apply a new one in the morning. If you experience burning, itching, or tingling, wait as this usually goes away in the first hour.
Other possible side effects include:
- Redness and swelling
- Upset stomach
- Severe swelling or rash
- Abnormal Heartbeat
- Difficulty Breathing
If any of the above symptoms are severe or persistent, contact your doctor before continuing use.
Underlying health conditions
Another issue with nicotine patch use could be underlying health conditions. The above side effects may be more likely if you have any of the below conditions. If you do, consult with a doctor before you start the patch.
Here are those conditions:
- Heart disease
- Chest pains or recent heart attack
- Thyroid disease
- Stomach ulcers
- Skipped/irregular heartbeat
- Allergies to bandages, tapes, or medicines
- High blood pressure
- Skin rashes/diseases
- Liver or kidney disease
Smoking and the patch
The whole purpose is to quit smoking with nicotine pouches, so you should refrain from smoking entirely. This is also because you face the risk of a nicotine overdose if you smoke and use the patch.
These signs characterise a nicotine overdose:
- Upset stomach
- Bad headaches
- Cold sweats
- Hearing problems
- Blurred vision
- Fainting or weakness
Any signs of an overdose require you to take the patch off and contact your doctor.
Nicotine pouches are certainly an effective method to quit tobacco use while mitigating the problematic effects of nicotine withdrawal. It is a method of nicotine replacement therapy worth considering.
Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.