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Clinical Applications of the Nicotine Patch

Adoption Date:
October 1, 1992

Public Policy Statement on Clinical Applications of the Nicotine Patch


**Note: This historical policy statement is available as part of ASAM's Policy Archives, but it is no longer considered current ASAM policy. Please contact ASAM's advocacy staff at advocacy@asam.org for questions related to ASAM's position on this topic.


The transdermal nicotine patch is a useful adjunct to the treatment of nicotine addiction. Although effective in detoxification, and in relieving symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, the patch alone is not treatment for the addiction. The use of a nicotine patch while the patient continues to smoke can produce dangerous physiologic nicotine effects.

Direct advertising of these patches to the public has led to unrealistic expectations of these devices in some quarters. It is critically important that these patches be prescribed only as part of a planned strategy to stop tobacco use.


ASAM recommends that the prescription of nicotine replacement for stopping smoking is adjunctive and appropriate only in the context of active management for nicotine dependence. Patients are treated for this condition in diverse clinical settings, and the severity and complexity of problems with nicotine with which patients present vary enormously. Therefore, a variety of interventions using nicotine replacement, including brief (five to ten minute) counseling by the physician combined with active follow-up, can be appropriate management in specific clinical situations.