Tobacco in cigarettes, cigars and pipes contains nicotine, a highly addictive drug. When you smoke on a regular basis your body develops a dependence on this drug and when you stop smoking you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Tobacco withdrawal symptoms, which are strongest between 12 and 24 hours after stopping smoking and reduce gradually over one month, include headaches, irritability, restlessness, fatigue and difficulty sleeping. You are likely to crave tobacco and have an intense urge to smoke. Ease the symptoms of tobacco withdrawal using medicine, therapy, diet and support.
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Things you need
- Stop smoking medicine
Use stop smoking medicine to ease tobacco withdrawal symptoms. The NHS lists three types of medicine available to help smokers quit. Champix tablets (varenicline) and Zyban tablets (bupropion) are available on prescription. They help reduce cravings and limit the effect you feel when you smoke. Nicotine replacement therapy in the form of nicotine gum, patches, microtabs, lozenges, inhalators, and nasal spray are sold over the counter in pharmacies. These stop-smoking aids release low amounts of nicotine into the bloodstream without additional harmful chemicals and help smokers ease off cigarettes gradually.
Deal with the stress that comes with nicotine withdrawal. The Mental Health Foundation says that because tobacco is frequently used to cope with stress, smokers must learn to deal with anxiety and strain in other ways when they stop smoking. Try regular exercise, meditation, yoga, hypnosis or acupuncture.
Avoid the triggers that lead you to smoke. As your mind is primed to associate smoking with certain situations, removing yourself from these situations can ease the cravings that come with tobacco withdrawal. Take all tobacco products out of your house. Identify situations such as the pub or during work breaks where you are used to smoking and avoid them.
Change your diet to minimise withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The NHS says that avoiding tea, coffee and alcohol when you are withdrawing from tobacco can help lessen nicotine cravings. Drink more water, reduce the amount of refined sugar you eat, and consume more fibre.
Find help with counselling or talking therapies. Individual counselling, group counselling or support over the telephone from a stop-smoking helpline can help you manage tobacco withdrawal symptoms and change your behaviour patterns.
How to soothe tobacco withdrawal
Tips and warnings
- Although withdrawing from tobacco is difficult, try to remember the reasons why you want to stop smoking; for example, to be healthier, to cut your risk of serious disease, to save money and to protect your family from the effects of tobacco. Focus on these positive effects while the symptoms of withdrawal fade.
- Stopping smoking or using tobacco can be easier if you get support from your friends and family. If others close to you smoke, try to stop smoking together.
- Suddenly removing tobacco from your life and stopping smoking using pure willpower is the least likely method to succeed and can result in serious withdrawal symptoms, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Plan ahead and don’t try to withdraw if you are facing a crisis or changes in your life.
- Nicotine replacement therapy is safe for most adults but you should check with your doctor before using if you are on regular medication or you have a heart condition. Consult your doctor if you are pregnant before using nicotine replacement therapy medicine.
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