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After Effects of Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking is a challenging undertaking, yet it is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health and your well-being. Being informed about the possible side effects of nicotine withdrawal increases your chances of success. According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco is physically and mentally addictive. Make sure you have a plan to handle the withdrawal symptoms, such as a combination of social support and nicotine replacement therapy. Talk to your doctor before you quit smoking to discuss the best method for you.

Mental Effects

The mental side effects of nicotine withdrawal vary from person to person. According to the American Cancer Society, withdrawal symptoms can last for a few days or weeks. You may experience symptoms of anxiety, irritability, depression, frustration or anger. You may find yourself irrationally lashing out at loved ones or feeling restless or bored. Smoking offers a mental distraction to your own thoughts or the stress of the day. You find yourself wanting a cigarette at the same time each day; for example, during your morning coffee break at work. You've got yourself into a comforting routine, which makes quitting even more difficult. Creating a new routine may be difficult at first, but it is a necessary part of dealing with the mental side effects of quitting smoking.

Physical Effects

The physical effects of withdrawal begin as soon as you quit smoking. According to the US National Institutes of Health's Medline Plus website, nicotine withdrawal causes physical symptoms such as headaches, weight gain, drowsiness and increased appetite. Many people experience sleep disturbances, sore throats or persistent coughs. The physical effects of quitting smoking lead many people to relapse. Using a nicotine replacement programme or prescription medication under your doctor's supervision can help you to handle these unpleasant side effects.

Social Effects

Smoking is becoming more and more socially unacceptable. Many workplaces now have designated outdoor smoking areas or ban smoking altogether. Landlords will often refuse to rent to someone who smokes. Still, the social difficulties of quitting smoking can be challenging. Many of your friends or acquaintances may smoke. You may be in the habit of taking a cigarette break with your co-worker. You might run into difficulties on a Friday night at your favourite bar when everyone goes outside for a cigarette. The social effects of not smoking may be difficult to handle, as you may feel excluded or like an outsider.

Socialising with smokers may make a relapse more likely. Having adequate social support, whether through a support group such as Quit or through supportive friends, can make the difference between successfully quitting and relapsing.

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About the Author

Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.