Tactics to Tackle Nicotine Withdrawal

April 19, 2023 11:49 pm117 commentsViews: 190

Smoking is one of the main causes of lung cancer – a serious health epidemic. People who smoke, consciously or unconsciously have a desire to quit, but the thought of withdrawal,inability to effectively deal with cravings and inability to sustain motivation, often keeps them away from quitting. They must know that upon diagnosis, lung cancer treatment is time taking and significantly shakes the health of the person suffering.

Many a times, tobacco smokers feel that they are addicted/dependent to only 1 substance, not knowing that cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals and that some of these chemicals are poisonous and carcinogenic (predisposing to Cancers).

Going through nicotine withdrawal can be difficult. Since smoking affects many body parts, nicotine withdrawal involves various physical, emotional, mental,and behavioural symptoms. A person can have intense longings for a cigarette and can quickly get angry, irritable, or even feel restless. Apart from that,a person can also suffer from headache, weight gain and insomnia.However, it is essential to know that the acute withdrawal symptoms onlylast a few weeks. Once the body starts adapting to the lack of nicotine, the person becomes and starts feeling healthier than they have been in a long time.

One needs to choose a healthier life for oneself and the family. Smoking not only affects one’s own health but also affects the health of others staying with him/her (through passive smoking). The benefits of quitting smoking start happening from day 1. Within 12 hours of quitting smoking, the carbon Monoxide levels in the blood drop towards normal. Within 3 months of quitting smoking, circulation and lung functions improve. Within 9 months of quitting smoking, one coughs less and is able to breathe easy. After a year of quitting tobacco use, the risk of heart disease reduces by half. After a period of 5 years of quitting smoking, the risk of cancer also drops.
Here are some useful tips which can be used to help quit smoking and tackle nicotine withdrawal:

1. Focusing on the Reason to quit smoking and Build willpower
It is important for a person to focus on the benefits of quitting, including improved health, enhanced self-esteem, better appearance, and the money they save. Many of the motives for wanting to quit smoking are common for many individuals, however some of the reasons are unique to a person’s own situation. A person can prepare a list of reasons mentioning why they want to quit and go through that list every day to stay focused and motivated.

2. Reminding oneself of the ill hazards of continuing to smoke including the negative effects on self and others. Reminding oneself of those suffering from ill effects of smoking can also deter one from this habit.

3. Set a Quit date. This reaffirms your commitment to self and the ones who care for you.

4. Try to announce about your commitment to quit smoking. This serves as an active commitment and prevents one from the opportunity to smoke in front of others.

5. Make Rational choices. During the withdrawal phase, avoid the company of people who smoke and avoid attending cocktail parties.

6. Try to keep fillers and counters to control cravings. Try to develop interests in healthier activities that can help in releasing pressure, or stress. Start spending time with family and nonsmoking friends. Try some relaxation exercises to relax and distract the mind from cravings. Research reflects that even a few minutes of trying to distract and rationalizing the mind, can help in overcoming the strong urge to smoke.

7. Focus on one day at a time. Promise self not to smoke each morning and pat yourself at the end of the day for being successful at it. Use simple rewards to encourage self to remain committed in the process. Focusing on one day at a time, ensures strong commitment and sustained motivation.

8. Try healthy substitutes for oral stimulation. One could try alternatives like chewing gums, keeping a mint tablet or clove in mouth for mouth freshness and oral stimulation to avoid/reduce cravings to smoke.

9. Adopt and commit self towards healthier life goals. Try to address issues with respect to other drugs of abuse/alcohol as well. Often continuing to take one substance of abuse/alcohol continues to serve as a trigger for the other substance (nicotine). A healthy lifestyle with focus on balanced healthy diet, regular exercises, keeping oneself adequately hydrated with healthy oral fluids rich in minerals help in the process.

10. Social support helps. Family and friends should encourage rather than engaging in nagging behaviors or making fun of the person’s commitment to quit smoking.

11. Meditation also helps.

12. Consider Getting Treatments

Treatments are effective

Treatments include: Nicotine Replacement YTherapies (NRT)Such treatments allow one to use Nicotine but prevent the usage of non-nicotine dangerous substances that form a part of cigarette smoke. Over some time, the nicotine replacement is gradually withdrawn. Such treatments can be administered with a lozenge/pastilles, skin patch, or chewing gum. These treatments begin on a person’squit day.

Other effective treatments include the use of non-nicotine medications. These can help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms by imitating how nicotine functions in a person’s body. Treatment with drugssuch as bupropion and vareniclineshould start one to two weeks before a person’s quit day, with proper consultation from a Psychiatrist.

Motivation enhancement therapy, relaxation exercises, counseling and Cognitive behavior therapies through trained mental health professionals help in the process.

While going through the nicotine withdrawal phase, individuals need to be patientand understand that they are going through a personal healing process.People should never compare their situation to anyone else. Instead, they should trust in the process and give themselves the time they need to heal completely.Remember where there is a will there is a way out.








Dr Sameer Malhotra and Team
Director, Dept of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Healthcare
Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist and Drug De-addiction specialist


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