Nicotine Withdrawal And Cravings 

black and white picture of a man with cigarette
black and white picture of a man with cigarette


Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to man. Powerful and very fast-acting. This is the chemical which causes addiction to cigarettes. It is a drug and has many different effects on the body at the same time. After just one puff it begins to act on your central nervous system, brain and other parts of the body. It stimulates your system, even though it makes you feel relaxed. Nicotine affects chemicals in your brain and, after a puff, you usually feel good for a moment or two, which is why many smokers view smoking as stress relief when under pressure.

Some areas of the brain are pleasure related and when stimulated give the feeling of relaxation and reduced anxiety. Over time as you continue to smoke, your body learns to depend on nicotine. As a result when you stop smoking you get ‘nicotine cravings’ one of many different withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine Cravings And Withdrawal

Cravings and withdrawal symptoms when you quit smoking are a common experience. It is the way your body reacts when it stops getting nicotine and all the other chemicals in tobacco smoke. Some withdrawal symptoms will come and go over a period of a few days. Most are gone within three weeks and not every smoker is affected to the same degree.

Cravings. Each one lasts 3 -5 minutes, and maybe strong. Over time, however, cravings will happen less often. More about cravings below.

Headaches (occasional), indigestion, nausea, diarrhoea and sore throats rarely last more than four days.

  • Try usual over the counter remedies for these symptoms.

Insomnia and an increased tendency to dream.

  • Tea and coffee contain caffeine and, without nicotine, your body absorbs much more of this stimulant, which can make you restless, irritable and sleepless for a while.
  • Try drinking less tea and coffee, make your cups weaker.
  • Consider coffee substitutes, water, fruit juice and caffeine-free cola drinks.

Coughing most commonly caused by the cilia that line your lungs cleaning out the tar and mucus.

Irritability, depression or anxiety are closely connected to the physical action of nicotine leaving your body and will lessen over one to three weeks.

Increased appetite and possible weight gain.

Tiredness and lack of concentration.

  • Try and relax more during the first few weeks any tiredness will pass.
  • Take a break from what you’re doing and take a short walk if possible to help concentration.

The first few days after you quit can be the hardest. The most problematic symptom tends to be cravings.

Few smokers quit without getting cravings. If you want to succeed you must learn to get through them.

The following tips should help:

  • Confront cravings head-on and learn to ‘overcome the urge to smoke at will through sheer determination’.
  • The choice to quit smoking and the responsibility for not smoking is yours alone.
  • Cravings only last 3- 5 minutes and they WILL subside. Once the urge to smoke has gone your resolve will strengthen.
  • Focus on the reasons you decided to quit. Take a look at your quitting plan.
  • Take 3 or 4 deep breaths. Breathe in slowly through the nose and fill your lungs, then breathe out again slowly through the mouth.
  • Drink water. Sip it slowly and try to savour the taste. This will also help to satisfy any increased appetite.
  • Keep busy.

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