Warning -- long post!
Sharing my experience with the patch in case it can answer questions for other quitters.
About me: I smoked about half a pack of cigarettes daily from my late teen years through my early 30s, then switched to vaping for maybe six years. I don't know how much nicotine I was getting from vaping but I think it was about 15 mg a day.
I chose the patch because I wanted to avoid the hand-to-mouth gesture I was used to with vaping and focus on changing my habits and mind while decreasing my dependence on nicotine. I used the 14 mg patch to start (step 2), for five weeks. I didn't think I could handle cold turkey. I also didn't join Ex until after I'd quit, which might have changed my perspective on that.
At first it was difficult to stop reaching for the e-cig that was no longer there. I was very emotional and preoccupied the first few days, which improved bit by bit during the first three weeks. I was able to concentrate better again within the first week. I was a little tense and fatigued for a couple weeks. I had no other big withdrawal symptoms then; perhaps the patch helped with that.
I could not leave a patch on overnight. I tried for the first few days but couldn't sleep deeply and would sweat in the night. I started taking it off a few hours before bed within the first week and it went fine. No additional cravings in the morning even though vaping was often the first thing I'd do when I woke up. After four weeks or so I'd wait an hour after waking up to put a new patch on.
I stepped down to the 7 mg patch after five weeks. Six weeks is the direction on the package for people who begin at 14 mg, so I was left with an extra week's worth of 14 mg patches.The symptoms I had when I stepped down felt similar to the very beginning. I was emotional and edgy for a couple of days, I thought of vaping more often, and I felt some physical tension and fatigue. I used the 7 mg patch for maybe eight days.
All of this time I was worried about going to no patch, no NRT at all. It was scary. I began to think that staying on each step as long as was recommended was postponing or drawing out some withdrawal symptoms that were really inevitable, and that if I just faced them maybe I would get it over with.
I had a good day after about a week of being on the 7 mg patches and decided I'd stop using the patch completely while I felt optimistic and strong. Again, the symptoms were basically the same as in the beginning. The first day was fine, the second day the tears started to flow, the third was like being at the bottom of a dark well of sadness, and the fourth day was quite a bit better. During the tough days I might think about putting on a patch but I never wanted to backslide on progress made the days before. By day six without nicotine I was feeling pretty normal.
All told I used patches for about six weeks. I kept my focus on continual reduction in the amount of nicotine that was going into my body throughout the process. Six weeks was a pretty long time to taper off though, for me, and some people might be able to taper their use of nicotine before they even quit smoking or vaping. The extreme emotions I felt as I tapered off might have been more than I could handle if I'd done it all at once, so I'm glad to have used the patch. I'm even happier to be nicotine free.
Feel free to ask questions if you have any and I will answer as best I can.