In 2020, the National Cancer Institute’s “Smoking Cessation” report revealed that 53.9% of adult cigarette smokers attempted to quit. Their motivations included avoiding chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. However, only 8.5% of these smokers succeed. One significant reason that the majority of them failed was smoking withdrawal.
While our past article on Techllog discussed marijuana withdrawal, allow us now to elaborate on smoking withdrawal. If you’re planning to quit smoking, keep reading to learn more about withdrawal symptoms, causes, and tips for effective management.
Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms
Irritation and restlessness
Feelings of restlessness and irritation can come from your body’s reaction to the lack of smoking cigarettes. Quitting smoking is a drastic change—especially if you’re a long-time smoker—so your body may feel that something is wrong. Irritation and restlessness can manifest in you feeling jumpy or upset even when you’re not exposed to factors that can cause these reactions.
When you abruptly quit smoking, your brain resorts to other ways to fill the void of tobacco consumption. One such way it does so is through craving fatty and sugary foods. If you give in to these cravings, they can ultimately lead to weight gain. In fact, a study from the University of Minnesota finds that your body does this to cope with the distress of quitting.
Withdrawal effects don’t stop when the sun goes down. Irritability and restlessness transfer over to your sleep, or lack thereof. As previously discussed, this is because your body is suffering from the lack of cigarette smoking activity. Thus, it cannot rest because it feels that something is wrong.
What Causes Smoking Withdrawal?
The act of smoking cigarettes releases a chemical called dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is associated with pleasure, so it lifts your mood and induces happiness whenever it’s released. When you stop smoking, there’s less dopamine release. This affects your mood and behavior, causing the withdrawal symptoms mentioned above.
Fortunately, dopamine release will return to normal levels with time. At most, you’ll only experience withdrawal symptoms in the first 2-4 weeks. After this, your body will adjust to the lack of smoking activity.
How to Manage Smoking Withdrawal
Avoid situations that entice smoking
Social events, bars, and parties are common settings that tempt you to smoke. During your quitting journey, avoid these situations. You’re more vulnerable in these settings because you may already feel irritation and restlessness as your withdrawal symptoms. Coupled with an enticing environment for smoking, you’ll have less self-control.
Instead, opt to socialize in places where smoking isn’t allowed or at home where family and friends can keep you accountable.
Use nicotine replacement products
Smokeless nicotine replacement products allow you to consume nicotine in controlled quantities, so you don’t need to quit cold turkey. Nicotine pouches and patches are two such products you can try, as they’re convenient and discreet to use.
Nicotine pouches are placed between your lip and upper gum for nicotine absorption. The bestsellers on Prilla have varying strengths, ranging from 2mg to 15mg. These allow you to gradually lower your nicotine intake and let your body adjust accordingly. Meanwhile, nicotine patches stick to your skin to deliver nicotine to the bloodstream. Yahoo! finds that the best nicotine patches are easily available in most physical and online drugstores. Patches typically contain 7mg or more of nicotine because they facilitate staggered nicotine release over the course of 24 hours.
Smoking withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable, tempting you to return to cigarette consumption. Manage your withdrawal with our tips for a successful quitting journey.