What do you think of when you hear the word “withdrawal?” Maybe someone attempting to kick a heroin habit, or an alcoholic who has gone too long without a drink? Suddenly trying to quit most addictive substances will leave a person with withdrawal symptoms, but it might surprise you to know that cigarettes and other tobacco products are in that group. Nicotine is very addictive – in fact, about 80 to 90 percent of regular smokers are addicted to nicotine – and your body and brain will both have to adjust to no longer having it present.
Most people who try to quit slip up and smoke again within the first week. You’re generally hit with the hardest symptoms within one to three days, and they can take up to a month to completely disappear. Some of the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are:
- Feeling sad or depressed
- Having trouble sleeping
- Feeling irritable‚ on edge‚ or grouchy
- Having trouble thinking clearly and concentrating
- Feeling restless and jumpy
- Having a slower than usual heart rate
- Feeling unusually hungry or gaining weight
- Abdominal cramps
- Digestive issues, such as constipation
Unlike with some drugs, withdrawal from nicotine can’t be fatal, and it isn’t even particularly dangerous. Mostly it’s just very uncomfortable, although some people feel the effects more strongly than others. There are some things you can do to lessen these symptoms, such as taking medication and trying nicotine replacement therapy.
Nicotine gum‚ patches‚ inhalers‚ sprays‚ and lozenges are all examples of nicotine replacement therapy. Nicotine replacement therapy products contain nicotine, and they provide people with low doses of the substance to help cut down on cravings and reduce the symptoms of withdrawal.
There are two commonly used medications that can help with nicotine withdrawal – Bupropion SR and Varenicline, both of which require a prescription to use and neither of which contain any nicotine. Bupropion SR lessens the urge to smoke and can help with the symptoms of withdrawal. It is also commonly used as an antidepressant to treat major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder. It’s not right for everyone, particularly heavy drinkers, pregnant women, and people who have seizures. Varenicline is meant to be used along with education and counseling to help people stop smoking. It also shouldn’t be used by women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, nor by people with kidney problems. Both drugs work by blocking some of the chemicals in your brain that are responsible for giving you that pleasant feeling you get when you smoke.
Counseling can be helpful for lessening the phycological aspect of withdrawal for some people. Identifying your triggers and the reasons you began smoking in the first place can help keep you from starting smoking again.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.