Understanding nicotine withdrawal

One of the reasons why smokers often fail in quitting is because of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that a smoker experiences the moment he/she stops smoking. If you want to succeed in quitting smoking, you must anticipate and understand the withdrawal symptoms so you can prepare yourself and plan ahead on what you can do to get through the unpleasant mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.

What is nicotine withdrawal?
Withdrawal symptoms are experienced by a smoker when he/she tries to cut back or quit due to the lack of nicotine in the body. Withdrawal has 2 aspects—physical and mental. The physical symptoms experienced by the smoker occur because the body reacts to the absence of nicotine. The mental part of withdrawal is because the smoker has developed the smoking habit and this is not easy to give up or change.

What are the symptoms associated with withdrawal?
Withdrawal symptoms usually start within a few hours of the last cigarette and peak about 2-3 days later when most of the nicotine and its by-products are out of the body. Depending on the person, these symptoms can last for a few days and can last up to several weeks. But they will get better every day and these symptoms will soon disappear.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Feelings of frustration, impatience and anger
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances, including having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, and having bad dreams or even nightmares
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Restlessness or boredom
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation and gas
  • Cough, dry mouth, sore throat, and nasal drip
  • Chest tightness
  • Slower heart rate

What can I do to deal with nicotine withdrawal?
As mentioned, withdrawal symptoms have both mental and physical aspects. For the physical symptoms, they can be reduced and overcome by the use of nicotine replacements and other medicines. Talk to your doctor on which nicotine replacement is for you. Ask about the possible side effects and advantages of using them.

Withdrawal symptoms may be annoying but they are not life-threatening. Bear in mind that they are but natural responses of your body because your body was used to having nicotine every now and then. As time passes, these symptoms will go away and you’ll be back to normal in no time.

The more difficult part to overcome for most smokers is the mental part of quitting. Smoking has been a part of their regular activity (smoking habit) that they can associate or have the urge to smoke every time they watch TV, drink coffee, wake up in the morning, or have their break time at work. You must look for ways to “un-link” these everyday activities with smoking and change your habits (healthy habits like exercising, playing or learning how to play the piano, singing, etc.).

If you are trying to quit and are experiencing withdrawal symptoms or difficulties in quitting, an important thing to remember is that if you really want to succeed in quitting, you must have both PERSISTENCE and DETERMINATION. Quitting smoking is not an overnight process but it is much more like losing weight, you must be determined on your goal and you must be persistent in doing what you can to achieve that goal (stay focused).

You can quit smoking and quit it for good!



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