Smoking Cessation: Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
Nicotine withdrawal occurs when people that want to stop smoking lower their levels of nicotine intake abruptly. Using nicotine is both a physical addiction and a psychological habit, effecting both mind and body. You’re not alone if you’ve tried to stop smoking but couldn’t stay committed. Most nicotine users make many attempts to stop before successfully quitting smoking. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 35 million people attempt to stop smoking, or otherwise using tobacco every year. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms can be highly uncomfortable for some people, which can lead to relapse. However, there are so many benefits to smoking cessation, which we will explore in this article.
Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
The New York Times reports that common nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Intense craving for nicotine
- Drowsiness or trouble sleeping, as well as bad dreams and nightmares
- Feeling tense, restless, or frustrated
- Increased appetite and weight gain
- Problems concentrating
It’s common for people to develop some of these symptoms when they stop smoking or otherwise using tobacco. A US National Library of Medicine publication states that about half of smokers report experiencing at least four withdrawal symptoms when they quit. The intensity of nicotine withdrawal varies from person to person, with some experiencing a mild form of these smoking cessation symptoms, while others suffer from more severe forms. Typically, people who used nicotine for longer and in larger quantities will struggle more than those who smoked less and for a shorter time. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually start about two hours after the last use, and dissipate approximately two to three weeks after quitting.
For many smokers‚ the intense craving for a cigarette lasts longer than the other symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. This is because cravings can be set off by reminders of smoking, which are referred to as triggers. There are many people, places, and things that can trigger a craving, such as being around other smokers or stressful situations. Other reminders include drinking coffee and alcohol, or even driving, as most smokers smoke while driving. It is important to try to avoid potential triggers or have a plan for how to resist the cravings as they occur.
Advantages of Smoking Cesation
There are major health advantages associated with smoking cessation, which begin taking place within the first two hours of quitting smoking, when the heart rate drops back down to normal levels. Twelve hours after the use of nicotine, the carbon monoxide in the body decreases to lower levels, and blood oxygen levels increase to normal. After one full day without nicotine, the risk for heart attacks will have begun to drop. After 48 hours of quitting, nerve endings will start to re-grow and the ability to smell and taste will improve. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, headaches, and frustration generally peak around three days after quitting, once the nicotine is completely out of the body. After a couple of weeks, the ability to perform physical activities and overall stamina will improve. This is due to the regenerative processes that occur within the body when blood circulation and lung function recuperates.
Smoking Cessation Treatments
Several different treatment options are available for nicotine withdrawal. Over-the-counter supplements including chewing gum and skin patches, or prescription nicotine replacement techniques such as inhalers, nasal sprays and oral lozenges, can help reduce symptoms by gradually decreasing the amount of nicotine in the body. Treatment may also include the use of non-nicotine prescription medications such as Chantix or Zyban.
Many smokers have found relief with nicotine withdrawal after enrolling in a clinical study for smoking cessation in Los Angeles. These medical research groups are attempting to find a real treatment for smoking cessation, and they are doing that with the help of volunteers who choose to enter these clinical trials. These studies offer not only the latest medication for nicotine withdrawal, but also free doctor care and labs, as well as compensation. To learn more about Los Angeles clinical trials for smoking cessation, contact the Pacific Institute of Medical Research, which is an independent clinical research site specializing in psychiatry since 1982. Visit us online or call us at (310) 208-7144.