Quitting smoking is healthy; transformational; a socially respectable practice. But managing the physical and mental repercussions of having retreated from a life-long addiction is a challenge that cannot be underestimated.
The withdrawal symptoms are one of the first side effects of smoking cessation. Here is a look at how you can continue to remain strong and committed to living a tobacco free life while dealing with this side effects.
The first step to achieving that is to know and understand what your body will go through and experience during withdrawal.
The decision to smother the cigarette stubs for ever
The harmful effects of smoking are public knowledge. True enough, nicotine has its telltale benefits like mood elevation, anti-depression and creation of a false sense of well-being.
All these and more at the cost of life. When the enlightened smoker decides to break his relationship with the ashtray, following are some of the withdrawal symptoms that follow this crucial decision.
- Nicotine cravings, as your brain entices you with puffing one more cigarette, after quitting.
- Excessive sweating
- Restlessness of mind and body, inability to regain composure
- Sleeplessness, ranging from keeping awake for long to complex conditions of insomnia
- Headache – and the mind that believed cigarettes were the wonder remedy now find it gone and adds to the throbbing pain on the temple area of the head.
- Cramps in the intestine
- Wagering attention and reduced levels of concentration
- Weight gain
- Sore throats, coughing, mucus deposit
- Tightness in chest area
- Irregular bowel functioning and constipation
The list is not exhaustive and many other symptoms rush in to occupy the space of the addiction that existed for many years.
In addition to the above physical symptoms, the following mental signs are also observed in the journey after one quits smoking:
- Increased appetite, forcing people to over eat
- Decrease in tolerance. Your temper goes for a toss and you become irritable and sulky.
- Nervousness and indecisiveness
- Lack of clarity in decision making and a state of perennial mental confusion
- Anxiety and mental fatigue
Why do withdrawal symptoms occur?
This could be solely attributed to the killer-drug nicotine which is contained in generous amounts in tobacco.
It is a powerful addictive chemical which holds the smoker under considerable sway. More than the nicotine itself, it is the craving and addiction for nicotine that causes these withdrawal symptoms.
- The degree of dependency on nicotine determines the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. This is why chain smokers who experience strong nicotine cravings are the worst hit by withdrawal symptoms.
- Some withdrawal symptoms are powerful enough to draw people back to smoking, unless professionally handled.
- The symptoms start occurring within 48 hours of quitting and can last up to a month. However, if one thinks that reducing cigarettes gradually will not result in withdrawal symptoms, such views have been proved wrong. The symptoms only worsen and get prolonged.
- Withdrawal symptoms are nothing but the body’s reaction to the absence of nicotine. Routine intake of nicotine invades many vital body organs like the lungs, the liver and the brain, breaking up into cotinine and nicotine-N’-oxide. Due to this, smokers become tolerant to nicotine and start smoking heavily. When the regular dose of intake is denied, body responds in the form of unmanageable withdrawal symptoms.
Coping with withdrawal symptoms
Steering clear of withdrawal symptoms can be extremely difficult for smokaholics who have quit their die-hard inhalant addiction. Some ways to conquer the symptoms include:
Understanding the periodicity of symptoms
Most craving symptoms occur within a few hours of puffing the last cigarette. They recur in 48-72 hours, which is the most trying period.
While in two days down the lane, you witness headaches, your stress levels stand heightened in about 60 hours. Basic knowledge of this roadmap will help tackle these barriers to abstinence.
Keep yourself too busy to observe the symptoms
In many cases, it is the detection and cognizance of symptoms that are more devastating than the symptoms themselves. Engaging in a busy and productive activity like cooking, cleaning or teaching etc. that demand undivided attention will help navigate the mind from brooding over the symptoms.
Divert your mind and delay the urge
It is a game of fooling the withdrawal symptoms and winning over the craving. Avoid the strong urge to reach for a pack of cigarettes or try attending a long phone call or listen to your favourite music.
Go for a swim or take a brisk walk. And find the urge disappear.
Prescriptive Medicines for curing symptoms
Medicines that are commonly prescribed for the post-abstinence phase include Bupropion chloride, sold under the name of Zyban, and Varenicline, sold under the name of Chantix, to mention a few.
These drugs have been approved by the FDA. They work on the technique of making cigarettes less satisfying for the mind and body, leading to loss of interest.
Still, smokers and ex-smokers run the risks of side effects such as nausea, skin irritation, constipation and dizziness.
Nicotine Replacement methods
Over-the -counter sale of nicotine replacement products are an easy remedy to face withdrawal symptoms better.
These products do contain traces of nicotine in minimal amounts, so that the body gets at least small amounts of nicotine and the pangs of withdrawal are not so painful.
Examples include nicotine gums, inhalers, nasal sprays, patches, inhalators and lozenges which establish a sense of fulfillment in the body that is craving for nicotine.
Homemade oral remedies that can keep taste buds preoccupied
Besides keeping the mind and body preoccupied with hobbies, it is essential to maintain a larder full of chew-able delicacies like sweet gums, sugar syrups, raisins, celery and carrots that can treat your tongue to something different when your cravings strike.
Drinking water and taking deep breaths help better.
Do not bend to peer pressure
Slip-ups strengthen withdrawal symptoms. Muster courage to deny invitations in parties and dinners for a casual smoke.
Occasional slip-ups may appear harmless, but may worsen your symptoms and may even compel you to resort to old ways.
All the above methods are not foolproof and must be used in combination with others to fight withdrawal symptoms.