I only used nicotine patches as a tool to help with the cravings while I was retraining myself to live life without a cigarette. They did not take the cravings away completely, but they made them easier to handle. I first started out cold turkey and the waves came in strong and fast every 5-10 minutes. With the patch, I noticed they came at the same frequency but were far less.
I smoked 2 to 3 packs a day depending on what I was doing. So I started off with Step 1 and alternated between each arm and leg and upper chest every day. I made sure that I placed them at the same time every day. I never had nightmares, but some do. I slept extremely sound, but I placed them at 8:00 every morning. Placing the patch replaced my 10 cigarettes that I smoked every single morning within a few hours.
There's been a few studies that suggest that keeping them on for 6 months for heavy smokers might be beneficial. Wearing patch 6 months may help smokers quit - CNN.com. It's all a personal decision. There are no studies that I could find that say by wearing the patch for 6 months (180 days) is going to bypass the emotional roller coaster. Personally I think that's what makes quitting so frustrating. There's statistics, but there's no set in stone guidelines.
You do have to be conscious during this time frame to note your triggers, things that make you want a cigarette more than others and what you are going to do to replace it and actually be performing that act over and over when they show up. You do have to put forth the effort during the time you're on the patch to relearn your coping skills with life in general. This didn't happen overnight and it will not go away in that same time period. Fill out that section about tracking your cigarettes and how I plan to separate from them. That may have been the step you missed when you first set your quit date because you thought it didn't have a purpose. It's there as a behavior modification tool to assist you in relearning how to deal with your stressors, identify your stressors, make you think about them.
The articles in this group may be old, from 2008 or so. But they contain knowledge from other quitters just like you who just want to be done with this just like you do..........