So, we hear you’re trying to kick a pretty bad habit? That’s great, because cigarettes are definitely not the best things to be inhaling into your lungs. Quitting cigarettes is one of the few times when giving up is completely respectable, so let us be the first to congratulate you on taking this big step.
But you’re not out of the woods just yet. As you know, nicotine is addictive, so if you’ve been an avid smoker for a while, your body is probably physically dependent on the stuff. This means that quitting is going to come with a fair share of physical and emotional symptoms that you should be prepared for ahead of time.
With that in mind, withdrawal symptoms won’t kill you, and they only last about two to four weeks. You’ve come so far already -- you’ve got this.
Withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person, and it’s pretty dependent on the length of time that you’ve been smoking as well as the amount you’d typically smoke per day. But in general, you can prepare yourself to experience the following physical issues when you trash the tobacco.
This is usually one of the first withdrawal symptoms you’re likely to experience. With that said, they’re also one of the first to taper off.
They’re also on the milder side, though they can still be frustrating. Make sure you’re plenty hydrated and don’t be afraid to take an over the counter pain reliever if they become super inundating.
2. Increased Appetite
Nicotine is also an appetite suppressant, which typically means that frequent smokers eat less when compared to those who don’t. This is because it binds to receptors in your brain that alter the way your brain releases serotonin and dopamine. They’re the two messengers that play the biggest role in feelings of hunger.
So when you quit, you’ll probably find that you’ll want to eat a lot more than normal. You may find that you eat to fill the time when you would have been smoking. This often means you’ll crave unhealthy things like chips and candies.
Here’s the thing, all of that is better than opening up a pack, so if your cigarette cravings can be satiated with a cupcake, then go for it. A lot of people gain weight in the first few weeks as they try to quit, but that’s okay. Try to maintain some healthy physical activity and have a buddy monitor your food choice and intake, if you can.
You can argue that this is a mental symptom, but it can directly affect your physical behaviors. From the moment you put down that last cigarette, you’re going to want another one. These cravings usually only last about 15 to 20 minutes, so you just need to stick it out for a little while.
That can be a lot easier said than done, though.
When you’re feeling the urge to light up, try an alternative like:
- Chew a piece of gum or chew on carrots -- anything to satisfy your mouth (known as oral fixation).
- Avoid triggers or situations where you use tobacco often, such as drinking coffee or taking a break with coworkers who are going for a stogie.
- Try a CBD smoke instead. These will take the edge off and give you a similar relaxing feeling and help keep the ritual, just without the tobacco, nicotine, or additives. Research even shows that they may help reduce nicotine cravings overall.
- Try exercising. This can keep you distracted while simultaneously getting your blood pumping.
Nicotine is a stimulant, so it perks you up and makes you feel energized every time you take a puff. Naturally, you’re probably going to feel a little tired as you start to ease off.
Confusingly, withdrawal might also make you feel restless at night, which can give you trouble sleeping once it’s time to hit the hay. Try using some relaxation techniques at night, like breathing exercises or meditation. You can also try those CBD smokes again, as they’ll help take the edge off at any time of day thanks to CBD’s calming properties.
Mental and Emotional Symptoms
Your body isn’t the only thing that’s going to feel a little off when you ditch your fix. Your mind is affected too, so be ready to tackle some mental challenges that might pop up on your journey.
In the same way that serotonin and dopamine can affect your appetite, they can also affect your overall mood. When you smoke a cigarette, you feel a boosted mood and relief from stress, as the chemicals bind with receptors in your brain that increase the production of those chemicals.
Naturally, your anxiety might increase after you quit. Typically, this symptom will pop up a couple of days after your last cigarette, and it can last up to a few weeks. It’s completely normal, so don’t feel like something is going wrong.
You can manage these feelings by trying the following:
- Remind yourself that this feeling will pass. It won’t kill you, it’s only temporary, and you’re going to come out even stronger once it’s gone.
- Try exercising. Get your mind off of it and turn that increased heart rate into something healthy.
- Get yourself into a quiet environment. Distract yourself with a funny TV show, watch your favorite movie, or read a book.
As with any type of withdrawal, you may notice that your fuse is shorter than ever before. You might act out at small things or engage in angry behavior that you’ve never done before. This is, again, very normal. You’re not a bad person because of it, in fact, you’re a pretty amazing person for trying to quit in the first place.
With that said, this irritability can have an effect on those around you. While lashing out might not be your fault, it is your responsibility to ensure that your loved ones know you meant no harm. Explain why your mood is off-kilter and let them know what’s bothering you. You’ll feel much better, and having a solid support system might even be able to help alleviate those outbursts as well.
Nicotine triggers the release of dopamine, or the “feel-good” chemical. Naturally, when you stop using cigarettes, you may feel deprived of this chemical, leading to a depressive mood. Like all of these symptoms, it’s normal and should pass. However, this phase of withdrawal can be dangerous, as it’s when you’ll be most likely to start using cigarettes again.
Feeling depressed is daunting and unfavorable, so you may try to do anything to lift your spirits. Really, really resist the urge to grab a new pack, especially when you’ve already come so far.
Likewise, resist the urge to use other substances like alcohol or drugs to counteract your depressive symptoms. Not only do these substances have their own share of negative consequences to your health, but they may also act as triggers which may lead you to light up.
Don’t Quit Quitting
We won’t lie to you and say that quitting is easy. But what we will say is that it’s important. You will feel better than you ever have before once you mount the hurdles in your way.
Physical withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, appetite, cigarette cravings, and fatigue are really going to challenge your ability to keep your head above water. You’ll probably feel these symptoms pretty early on after your final puff, but they’ll disappear just as quick as they come about.
As for your noggin, you may feel anxious, irritable, and depressed in the days and weeks following your final smoke. Just remember that these are temporary feelings that are completely normal. You’re not alone, and the people around you are sure to offer a helping hand if you need some support.
If you’ve made it to the end of this article, you’re ready to stomp out your last cigarette and pave the path towards a healthier lifestyle. When you have those seemingly unmanageable cravings, switch to a tobacco-free, nicotine-free, and additive-free smoke from Oklahoma Smokes.
In Brief: Study suggests how nicotine suppresses appetite
How To Handle Withdrawal Symptoms and Triggers When You Decide To Quit Smoking