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What is Nicotine withdrawal and how to manage it!

The road to beating nicotine. When you smoke or chew tobacco, nicotine enters your bloodstream through the inner linings of your nose, mouth and lungs.

Some of you might already know this, but let’s start off by understanding what makes a cigarette addictive.

Tobacco contains nicotine; and it’s not the physical act of smoking, but the nicotine that is addictive. When you smoke or chew tobacco, nicotine enters your bloodstream through the inner linings of your nose, mouth and lungs. From there, it finds its way to your brain to elicit the production of dopamine, a chemical associated with feelings of reward and pleasure. And that’s exactly what it is - we like that feeling and when we stop consuming tobacco abruptly, we miss it.

Nicotine addiction has a diverse effect on you - both physically and psychologically. Once habituated to nicotine, your body develops a multi-pronged dependency on it which makes it that much harder to beat.

This means that when you withdraw from whatever form of tobacco you consume, you feel discomfort in multiple ways.

Withdrawal symptoms see a peak after 1-3 days and then subsides over a period of 3-4 weeks.

Physiological symptoms would begin with irresistible urges, irritability, difficulty concentrating and sometimes, anxiety and mood swings. In more extreme cases, headaches, sweating, tremors and difficulty sleeping.

But, there are the upsides of this journey as well. Your appetite will improve and so will your sense of taste and smell. In time you will experience a noticeable improvement in your breathing behaviour.

Nicotine consumption is more socially ‘accepted’ than a lot of other substances. Simply speaking, unlike illicit drugs and alcohol, it is possible to consume tobacco products in public settings. Making it easier for them to become a part of our routine. This contributes to the difficulty of letting go of the habit, and increases the tendency to slip back into using tobacco products - especially with the constant reinforcement in our social and professional setups.

To combat the impact of nicotine withdrawal and to successfully kick the habit, there are multiple things that not only the user, but also their support systems can do.

Decide to quit

Willpower. Sometimes, that’s all you need. The first step to making a change is to accept that you will do it. A halfhearted New Year’s Resolution won’t drive you, but a focused decision personally will make all the difference.

Create a strong support group

Once you decide to give up the habit, announce it. Let your friends, family, people close to you all know that you are planning to quit. A lot of people avoid this step, in anticipation of their relapse. Your people will intend the best for you and motivate you every step of the way.

Use a Nicotine Replacement Therapy

NRTs have proven to be the most effective means to battling withdrawal and the urge for nicotine. Everyone knows about gums, but there are less intrusive and more effective therapy options as well. A nicotine patch, for example, is an efficient way to ensure that your body gets the required dosage of nicotine it needs for an entire day. Over a period of three months, the dosage is progressively reduced to wean you off the dependency on nicotine, completely. It’s like an invisible companion, that helps you to better guide your body and mind towards your goal.

Replace the act of tobacco consumption

Smoking, or chewing tobacco is often a habitual action. You may have built associations to certain times of the day, or triggers that make you reach for the tobacco. If you track these triggers, you can inculcate new habits that distract you from that pre-programmed craving. Is your evening tea-time smoke a habit? Why not schedule a workout for that time slot instead? Switch the beverage you consume at tea time so your taste buds won’t remind you to light a smoke.

There are multiple ways in which you can distract your mind and body while breaking the structure of a consumption habit.

Saying No to tobacco is so easy. You just need some cheerleaders, some equipment, and you’re already on your way to winning!


Tags assigned to this article:
Nicotine cigarettes Malavika Kaura Saxena

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