Last updated: 11/12/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
While smoking rates have declined considerably over the past decade, as of 2012, an estimated 18.1 percent of American adults smoke cigarettes on a regular basis, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. As one of the few legalized addictive substances, tobacco use nonetheless accounts for over 480,000 deaths a year.
Whether smoked, chewed or sniffed, the nicotine content in tobacco retains its addictive properties. Not unlike cocaine, morphine and alcohol addictions, attempts to stop or cut back on usage will quickly bring on symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can drive many a well-intentioned person back to smoking again. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with these uncomfortable effects.
Remedies for symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can help smokers manage the inevitable cravings that develop. Learning how to deal with the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal as well as the daily stressors that so easily aggravate them can go a long way towards breaking the nicotine addiction habit for good.
According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can develop within two to three hours after the last dose or last cigarette. The likelihood a person will experience withdrawal symptoms increases for people who’ve smoked for a long time as well as for those who smoke two or more packs of cigarettes a day.
Nicotine withdrawal symptoms typically take the form of:
- Bouts of depression
- Muddled thinking
- Problems sleeping
The good news is withdrawal effects eventually subside with time. Symptoms become most uncomfortable during the week and gradually taper off from there.
Ongoing cravings for nicotine can be one of the hardest symptoms of nicotine withdrawal to overcome. Fortunately, cravings only last for so long and, with time, will grow farther and farther apart.
Remedies for managing cravings throughout the day include:
- Keeping the mouth busy by chewing gum (preferably sugarless), sucking on candy or munching on healthy snacks like apples, celery and carrots
- Avoiding activities that trigger the urge to smoke
- Deep breathing exercises
Remedies for Dealing with Stress
For most people trying to quit, everyday stressors can easily make symptoms of nicotine withdrawal all the more difficult to bear. Incorporating a few stress reduction techniques into the daily schedule can help prevent withdrawal effects from getting worse.
Here are a few stress reduction techniques to try out:
- Schedule “time-out” periods of five to 15 minute intervals throughout the day
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Yoga and/or meditation practice
- Identify high-stress situations (work, traffic, dealing with the kids) and plan/assign a technique ahead of time
Managing Anger, Frustration & Irritability
According to the National Cancer Institute, frustration, anger and irritability are the most common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal experienced when trying to quit smoking. These feelings can make it difficult to carry out necessary tasks. As patience levels plummet, a person tends to become more argumentative and less tolerant of those around them.
Remedies for managing anger, frustration and irritability include:
- Cut back on caffeine intake
- Take frequent walks
- Consider trying nicotine replacement aids
While cravings and withdrawal effects may seem as if they’ll last forever, it helps to keep in mind that the nicotine withdrawal period will come to an end.