Let me preface all of this, Matzfam, by saying that I am NOT a doctor, nor do I work in the health care field, but I have now walked four people through this quit smoking plan, including my dh.
Patches are a great solution, and you DO NOT have to follow the prescribed plan on the boxes.
If the highest patch is still leaving you with cravings (21 mg), add a smaller patch (7 mg), for a total of 28 mg. The important thing is that you do not physically feel any cravings. It helps to get rid of your triggers, too, like coffee or tea or alcohol - things you normally associate with smoking.
Try that for a week, and then step down to 21 mg. Try that for a week or two, and then step down again.
If you find yourself absolutely insane, or you want to go somewhere or do something where it will be very difficult for you to stop smoking, then take off your patches and give yourself a break.
The next morning, get up, and put on a patch.
Keep stepping down with patches until you get to the 7mg patch, the small one.
Try and stay on the 7 mg for a month. Remind yourself that nicotine is actually the least harmful of all the substances you get when you smoke.
At any time, you can pull off your patch, have a cigarette, and then start fresh the next morning. It took my dh a total of six months to completely quit, and when he goes camping with his buddies, he still smokes. When he gets back on Monday, he wears a 7 mg patch for a few days until the cravings subside.
I have also talked my SIL and my brother and my bf's dh through quitting smoking.
I think, personally, that the real key is cutting yourself slack on really really hard days, and just having your fix. It doesn't mean you have to abandon your whole program. Just start again the next morning.
I quit cold turkey when I decided I wanted to get pregnant with my first, and it was hell on wheels. I never went back, but I see that I am lucky, in that my body doesn't seem to have as strong a memory for the hit as some other people. I don't, for one second, think I'm just stronger or better than other people.
It is possible. Seeing it as an all or nothing proposition is what makes it so hard for some people, I think.
You can do it. The patches can be costly, it's true, but not more than the cigarettes, really. If you have the money, it is definitely worth another try.
I hope this post helps you. If I have come across as the tiniest bit superior or judgmental, please forgive me. I wish you the very best.
Kicking smoking is very, very hard.
But it can be done.