Withdrawal Symptoms and Recovery Nicotine Is a Very Powerful Drug!
|Tobacco contains a form of
the nicotine molecule that is an addictive drug, and smokers become addicted. If you quit
abruptly, you will go through the physical and psychological effects of drug-withdrawal,
These may include intense food cravings, jittery nerves, anxiety, short temper,
depression, and sleeplessness. Some drug addiction
treatment centers offer programs to help an individual quit smoking. The
addiction-withdrawal symptoms will be worst the first week and less severe during the
second. After a month, most of the withdrawal symptoms will be gone, If you quit
gradually, the withdrawal may be less intense but more prolonged.
|This is why many experts
recommend quitting abruptly! Nicotine
withdrawal involves irritability, headache, and craving associated with the sudden
cessation or reduction of smoking or other tobacco use by a nicotine-dependent individual.
If you need professional help in quitting smoking, you can approach drug addiction treatment centers that address smoking
Incidence and Risk Factors...
Almost all people who try to quit
have some form of nicotine withdrawal. Generally, the longer one has been a smoker and the
more nicotine and higher number of cigarettes consumed, the more likely it is that
withdrawal symptoms will occur and the more severe they are likely to be. Furthermore,
people who are regular smokers tend to have particularly strong cravings and worsening of
withdrawal symptoms at certain times, places, or situations associated with smoking. Tobacco
contains nicotine, an addictive drug, and smokers become addicted. If you quit abruptly,
you will go through the physical and psychological effects of drug-withdrawal, These may
include intense food cravings, jittery nerves, anxiety, short temper, depression, and
sleeplessness. The addiction-withdrawal symptoms will be worst the first week and less
severe during the second. After a month, most of the withdrawal symptoms will be gone, If
you quit gradually, the withdrawal may be less intense but more prolonged, This is why
many experts recommend quitting abruptly!
The common symptoms include an
intense craving for nicotine, tension, irritability, headaches, difficulty in
concentrating, drowsiness and trouble in sleeping, increased appetite and weight gain.
A milder form of nicotine withdrawal involving some or all of
these symptoms can occur when a smoker switches from regular to low-nicotine cigarettes or
significantly cuts down.
There are several
strategies for treating nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine supplementation in the form of gum
or patch can be helpful. A variety of other agents have also been used with some success
in maintaining abstinence and reducing withdrawal symptoms.
These agents include
clonidine, antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac), and buspirone (Buspar). Bupropion
(Zyban) was approved in 1996 by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for
nicotine dependence. Using
buproprion or nicotine replacement therapies alone doubles the odds of successful
quitting. Using a combination of these methods increases success rates even more. Buproprion and other antidepressants are not habit-forming, and may
help reduce the possibility that nicotine withdrawal may lead to depression. Since nicotine itself has antidepressant effects - and many smokers
unknowingly smoke to self-medicate depression - use of antidepressants to relieve
withdrawal may be particularly helpful. A screening for
depression may also be helpful to ensure proper treatment and increase the odds of
maintaining abstinence. People trying to quit smoking
often become discouraged when they don't succeed at first. Research shows that the more
times you try, the more likely you are to succeed - so don't give up!
Nicotine withdrawal is
short-lived and should pass in time. While withdrawal is the most uncomfortable part of
quitting, the real challenge is beating long-term cravings and staying abstinent.
The most likely
complication will be a return to smoking. Weight gain due to increased eating also may
occur. This is much less unhealthy than continuing to smoke, and those with concerns about
weight should address them while quitting so that they do not undermine their attempts to
stay away from cigarettes.
health care provider:
See your health care
provider if you wish to stop smoking, or have already done so and are experiencing
withdrawal symptoms. Your provider can help provide treatments, some of which are only
available by prescription.
Have You Ever Wonder Why it is So
Hard To Quit Smoking?
Mark Twain said, "Quitting smoking is
easy. I've done it a thousand times." Maybe you've tried to quit too. Why is
quitting, and staying quit, hard for so many people? The answer is nicotine.
Nicotine is a drug found naturally in tobacco. The body becomes physically
and psychologically dependent on nicotine. Studies have shown that smokers must overcome
both of these to be successful at quitting and staying quit.
When smoke is inhaled, nicotine is carried deep into the lungs where it is
absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and carried to the heart, brain, liver, and spleen.
Nicotine affects many parts of the body, including the heart and blood vessels, the
hormonal system, body metabolism, and the brain. Nicotine is found in breast milk and in
cervix mucous secretions. Nicotine freely crosses the placenta and has been found in
amniotic fluid and the umbilical cord blood of newborn infants. Nicotine is metabolized by
the liver, lungs and a small amount is excreted by the kidneys. Nicotine is broken down
into cotinine and nicotine-N'-oxide.
Although several different factors influence the rate of metabolism and
excretion, measurements of nicotine or its metabolites will vary depending on the fluid
being measured (blood, urine, or saliva). In general, a regular smoker will have nicotine
or its metabolite (cotinine) present in the body for about 3 to 4 days.
In studies measuring nicotine
levels in urine, 72 hour urine collections yielded greater than 90% of cotinine in most
Nicotine produces pleasurable feelings that make the smoker want to smoke
more and also acts as a depressant by interfering with the flow of information between
nerve cells. As the nervous system adapts to nicotine, smokers tend to increase the number
of cigarettes they smoke, and hence the amount of nicotine in their blood. After a while,
the smoker develops a tolerance to the drug, which leads to an increase in smoking over
time. Eventually, the smoker reaches a certain nicotine level and then smokes to maintain
this level of nicotine.
Withdrawal Symptoms After You Stop Smoking
Nicotine is a very powerful drug! When smokers try to cut back or quit,
the absence of nicotine leads to withdrawal. Withdrawal is both physical and
psychological. Physically, the body is reacting to the absence of the drug nicotine.
Psychologically, the smoker is faced with giving up a habit. Both must be dealt with if
quitting is to be successful.
Withdrawal symptoms can include any of the following: depression, feelings
of frustration and anger, irritability, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating,
restlessness, headache, tiredness, and increased appetite. These uncomfortable symptoms
lead the smoker to again start smoking cigarettes enough to boost blood levels of nicotine
back to the level at which no symptoms occur.
If a person has smoked regularly for a few weeks or longer and abruptly
stops using tobacco or significantly reduces the amount smoked, withdrawal symptoms will
occur, usually within a few hours of the last cigarette and peak about 48 to 72 hours
later. Withdrawal symptoms can last for a few days to several weeks.
Addiction and Withdrawal
Billions of dollars have been spent in the
United States fighting over whether or not nicotine is addictive. The position of
the medical and scientific communities is that nicotine is most definitely addictive.
Nicotine meets both the psychological and physiological measures of addiction:
Psychological - People who are
addicted to something will use it compulsively, without regard for its negative effects on
their health or their life. A good example would be someone who continues to smoke, even
as they use an oxygen tank to breathe because of the damage smoking has done to their
Physiological - Neuroscientists call
anything that turns on the reward pathway in the brain addictive. Because stimulating this
neural circuitry makes you feel so good, you will continue to do it again and again to get
those feelings back.
Nicotine's effects are short-lived, lasting
only 40 minutes to a couple of hours. This leads people to smoke or chew tobacco
periodically throughout the day to dose themselves with nicotine. Add to this the fact
that you can become tolerant to nicotine's effects -- you need to use more and more
nicotine to reach the same degree of stimulation or relaxation -- and you can see how
people would quickly move from smoking one cigarette to a pack a day habit.
What happens when smokers abruptly stop using
nicotine? While you're using nicotine-containing products, your body adapts the way it
works to compensate for the effects of the nicotine. For example, neurons in your brain
might increase or decrease the number of receptors or the amount of different
neurotransmitters affected by the presence of nicotine. When you no longer have nicotine
in your body, these physiological adaptations for nicotine remain. The net result is that
your body can't function the same way in the absence of the drug as it did before, at
least in the short term. People trying to quit nicotine experience this as:
Craving for nicotine
Over a period of about a month, these symptoms
and the physiological changes subside. But for many smokers, even a day without nicotine
is excruciating. Every year, millions of people try to break the nicotine habit; only 10
percent of them succeed. Most people throw in the towel after less than a week of trying,
because the way that nicotine rewires the reward system in the brain makes nicotine's pull