Since nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually peak within one to three days and decrease over four weeks, many effects that remain are psychological. Needless to say, understanding the signs of nicotine withdrawal and how to manage it will help you on your quit smoking journey.
What’s nicotine withdrawal?
When a combustible cigarette is inhaled you feel happy because the nicotine activates a specific part of your brain that stimulates the release of the hormone dopamine throughout the body. This buzz also causes your blood pressure and heart rate to temporarily increase. However, when nicotine begins to leave the body, smokers experience uncomfortable physical and psychological withdrawal effects, which is the primary reason that so many remain addicted to traditional smoking.
While nicotine has several different effects on a person’s body, the symptoms that one experiences when quitting cold turkey or lowering their dosage varies which is why it’s important to know all signs of nicotine withdrawal before setting your quit date.
The unpleasant signs of nicotine withdrawal can present themselves physically, only lasting a few days, and physiologically, lasting weeks to months post smoking.
Some people may experience the following physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal:
- Abdominal pain/cramping
- An increase in appetite
- Disgestive issues (ex. constipation)
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
Others may experience the following psychological symptoms of nicotine withdrawal:
- An intense craving for nicotine
- Irritability and frustration
- Mood swings
How can nicotine withdrawal be treated?
Since the signs of nicotine withdrawal can sometimes keep smokers from transitioning away from combustible cigarettes, many ex-smokers benefit from various kinds of support during this period.
Some treatments for nicotine withdrawal include:
- Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTS): Nicotine chewing gum, skin patches, inhalers, and nasal sprays supplement the nicotine intake the user needs.
- Medication: Physician subscribed medications can sometimes help to reduce cravings.
- E-cigarettes: These powerful tools offer users a wide range of nicotine levels and a device that looks and feels like a real combustible cigarette so both the physical and psychological needs of the former smoker can be satisfied
- Counseling: Both group and independent counseling sessions are valuable in helping ex-smokers cope with physical and psychological effects and assist in identifying potential triggers.
Do you have any tips for our readers who are interested in quitting? Drop a comment below to share your thoughts.