When held captive by this fatal indulgence, to quit or not to quit becomes a challenge.
And if one decides in the affirmative, he has to be prepared to combat a host of withdrawal symptoms after having made the decision to abstain from all kinds of tobacco products
Fortunately, all these side effects are short-lived and can be managed and contained with
physical and mental perseverance, in addition to the usage of other therapeutic and behavioural techniques.
In any case coping with these side effects are many times better than having to inhale an obnoxious concoction of over 4000 deadly chemicals (40 of them carcinogenic) contained in a cigarette.
Here’s how one can emerge successful and clean, from the side effects of quitting smoking:
What is Nicotine withdrawal?
Of all the hazardous chemicals emanating from the fumes of burnt tobacco, nicotine is the most addictive.
Over a period of time, physical dependence increases, leading to strong nicotine cravings, when the usual dosage is denied en route to quitting smoking.
Almost all side effects of quitting smoking revolves around nicotine withdrawal.
Unable to accept the sudden stoppage of nicotine supply, both the body and the mind of a chain smoker, refuse to co-operate with the tedious initial phase of starting to live a tobacco-free life.
Nicotine provides a feeling of false satisfaction to the brain including:
- Mood elevation
- Emancipation from depression
- Decreasing irritability
- A sense of freedom from worldly stress and problems
Once the decision to quit is made, nicotine absence surfaces and the artificial sense of satisfaction, so far built by Nicotine crashes. This is when smokers reel under the stress of nicotine withdrawal, which is not as insurmountable or life-threatening as is often said to be.
Physical side effects of quitting smoking
Having understood the extent and scope of nicotine withdrawal, it is common knowledge that the body resents the abrupt cessation of nicotine, when one decides to stop smoking.
Normally, smokers reduce their consumption gradually, unless they choose to do it the cold turkey way (total and one-time cessation of smoking).
In both cases, the side effects are unavoidable, though the degree and duration differ. Some physical side effects of smoking include:
- Increased appetite and calorie intake, leading to abnormal weight gain and obesity
- Mouth ulcers, due to significant changes in the level of chemicals in body
- Decreased blood sugar due to inability to cope with fresh oxygen supply when smoking is reduced.
- Tingling of nerves in hands and feet
- Irregularity of bowel movements leading to constipation or diarrhoea and stomach pain
- Respiratory problems including temporary congestion in respiratory track, sore throat and chest pain
In many cases, the side effects are strong enough to test the resoluteness of the quitting decision and people have fallen back on their vows to abstain.
Unless the techniques explained herein are implemented consistently, there is possibility of a relapse.
The mental downsides of nicotine withdrawal
Frame of mind tends to be fragile and uncertain, unable to meet the demands of the body when it experiences nicotine cravings.
This is exactly why the ideas to combat withdrawal symptoms include physical and mental exercises. Some of the mental symptoms include:
- Difficulty in converging thoughts and in concentrating
- Sleeplessness which may lead to insomnia
- Loneliness, leading even to suicidal thoughts
Improve physical fitness
Keeping the body fit, active and strong, is the best and proven way to combat the repercussions of smoking cessation.
It is not mandatory to transform into a fitness freak and spend all day in the gym. Just keeping the physique occupied will suffice.
Early rising is recommended, since waking close to sunrise holds immense advantages for the brain and the body. Some simple suggestions for this include:
- Walking, either by one-self, or walking children to school or taking pets for walks
- Brisk morning jogs, in comfortable clothing
- Listening to reverberating and soul-softening music, while exercising, which will help reduce fatigue
- Swimming, dancing, trekking
- Keeping the mouth active, as well, whenever the cravings are due to strike, by chewing on sugar-free gums and healthy snacks.
Keeping the body hydrated with ample intake of water has been found to be very effective in managing the side effects.
Water prevents drying up of vital organs like mouth, throat, skin, nose and lungs, which is very important in controlling the side effects of quitting. Taking water frequently is also known reduce nicotine cravings.
Channelize time and energies, productively and with novelty
As your body energizes with exercise and physical activities, the side effects start losing momentum. However, this has to be complemented with techniques to keep the mind rejenuvated.
As discussed earlier, the false sense of well-being fabricated by smoking crashes and one feels mentally depressed in the days ensuing quitting.
- Drawing, stitching or any other tactical activity that will improve hand-eye co-ordination, leading to sharpened focus
- Practise self-meditation, both after waking and before going to sleep
- Removing negative thoughts, expressing gratitude to parts of the body and thanking family and friends
- Pursue mind-refreshing hobbies that can divert thought process, whenever the urge to smoke invades the mind
- Do something new, something of help to others so that loneliness and vagueness in life are averted
Nicotine Replacement Methods
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is all about administering nicotine in small and organized doses to the body, so that it is not left at lurch by stopping nicotine intake in total.
Slowly, when dependence on nicotine reduces, the products may be discontinued. Some of the therapies include:
- Nicotine patches that can be worn on the body and nicotine is released by skin
- Nicotine gums and lozenges where oral administration of nicotine is done by chewing or swallowing
- Nasal sprays which are very quick means to increase nicotine content in body, whenever cravings strike.
It is imperative to ascertain what level of nicotine content is needed to thwart the side effects.
In cases of heavy smokers, who smoke up to 15 to 20 cigarettes a day, the degree may be higher, whereas occasional smokers may begin at lower levels.
It must be understood that NRT is not a permanent solution and can only aid in managing withdrawal symptoms and to quit smoking in a painless way.
E-cigarettes are comprised of e-liquids, made out of, propylene glycol, glycerine and nicotine with additive flavours. These liquids are heated and vapours are released for inhalation, in order to give smokers a cigarette-like feel, without the ill-effects of tobacco. Vaping can be resorted to in the phase when side effects are worst, but reliance on e-cigarettes must also be brought down, once the withdrawal symptoms subside.
Medication to combat side effects
Medicine is available to manage nicotine withdrawal, under prescription. Unlike NRT, these medicines do not use nicotine.
The FDA has undertaken extensive research and has approved two drugs for the purpose of easing side effects of quitting smoking and reducing the proclivity towards cigarettes:
- bupropion (Zyban)
- varenicline (Chantix)
The medicines help brain to cope with denial of nicotine and also to manage stress levels during the smoking cessation phase.
Hypnotherapies and Cognitive therapies
Hypnosis helps people to awaken their souls to wilful suggestions made by a third person, mainly to boost confidence that can diminish the harsh effects of quitting smoking.
The process of hypnotherapy is administered as under :
- The therapist works with the person who is a die-hard smoker and gets to the bottom of his deep-rooted addiction.
- The therapist makes positive and powerful suggestions that go beyond the conscious exterior to the subconscious mind.
- Complex thought patterns are broken and fresh thoughts are infused.
- Hypnotherapy is often used with cognitive behavioural therapy to unlock negativity and handle withdrawal symptoms better.
Become part of a larger community
Shortcomings can be toned down with togetherness. All over the online space and on social media, humanitarian groups bring rehabilitants together on major smoking cessation drives and groups, where people can become part of a big family of people who are on different stages of quitting smoking.
It is possible to combat side effects by:
- Sharing experiences, issues and solutions
- Helping and getting help on various related issues
- Familiarizing and getting familiarized with quit smoking apps that help manage nicotine withdrawal symptoms
- Joining hands in crafting smoking cessation programs, where the enlightenment and involvement can shift focus for the better.
There are a number of mobile applications for quitting smoking. By makes use of these apps, it is possible to manage the challenging phase easily, by keeping a tab on number of cigarettes reduced, money saved, weight reduced and calories burnt.
The milestones also portray winning over of side effects, which serve as a confidence booster.
With fortitude and commitment, using a few or all of the above techniques, it is indeed possible to brush aside, the side effects of quitting smoking and respire fresh air sans the poisons of tobacco.