Everglades AHEC - Tobacco Department
5725 Corporate Way, Suite 208
West Palm Beach, FL 33407

Phone 561.688.9591
Toll Free 1.877.819.2357
Fax 561.688.9592
Email info@eahec.org



 

 

 

 

Everybody knows that withdrawal comes with the territory of quitting but that doesn't make it any easier. Withdrawal symptoms can be difficult for the individual quitting as well as those around the person. Understanding the physical and psychological symptoms can help the individual and assist you in helping a friend quit.

When smokers quit, they begin to go through changes, some physical, some emotional. The physical symptoms, while annoying and difficult, are not life threatening. Nicotine replacement products such as the patch or gum can help reduce many of these physical symptoms. For most smokers, the bigger challenge is the psychological part of quitting.

This psychological part of smoking is really hard to beat because smoking becomes linked to so many things, including waking up in the morning, eating, reading, watching TV, drinking coffee, etc. It's like a ritual. Your body becomes used to having a cigarette with certain activities and will miss this link when you first become smoke-free.

It will take time to "un-link" smoking from these activities. Unfortunately, the patch or gum can't relieve the psychological need to smoke. That's why it's so important for the smoker to create a plan to deal with situations that trigger their urge to smoke. Smokers can also ask friends and family for support with simple things like walking around the building before class instead of having a cigarette.


Withdrawal Symptoms

If and when a smoker goes through withdrawal, it is important to remember that even though they may not act like themselves, and they may feel rotten, these feelings will pass. After 30 days or so of not using tobacco, all this will be behind them. In the meantime, here are some of the withdrawal symptoms smokers may experience and what they can do about them.

  • Craving: This is the body's physical addiction saying, "I need nicotine now!" Each craving will last for only a couple of minutes and will eventually stop happening altogether in about seven days. Smokers should use nicotine replacement products to help reduce cravings. If the smoker still feels the urge, they can admit out loud to themselves or someone else that they are having a craving. Then they should count to one hundred and let the feeling pass - and it will, usually within a couple minutes.

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  • Difficulty Concentrating: "Help, I quit smoking and I can't concentrate!" Some people say nicotine helps focus their attention. When they quit smoking, the increased blood flow and oxygen can lead to a feeling of mental fogginess. If this happens, they should try making lists and daily schedules to keep organized, then set aside some total relaxation time when they don't have to concentrate on anything!

  • Fatigue/Sleeping Problems: Trouble sleeping and fatigue are common symptoms of withdrawal. Because nicotine increases one's metabolism to an abnormally high rate, when people stop smoking their metabolism drops back to normal, making them feel like their energy level has dropped. So what can they do? They need to get their body used to the new metabolic rate by getting plenty of sleep, whenever possible. Although sleep patterns may be interrupted at first, this is normal and temporary.

  • Irritability: If you have snapped at someone or had a new non-smoker snap at you, you know what we are talking about. Irritability is caused by the body trying to adjust to the sudden disappearance of all those chemicals it's been used to. The best way to handle this is for smokers to simply be honest with those around them that they are trying to quit and they do not feel like themselves.
  • Next: Staying Quit

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