The good news is that by taking the step to quit smoking you are on your way to improving your health and your life. The bad news is that you have to get through the first few weeks of withdrawal, and then build new habits to make sure you don’t go back to smoking.
Nicotine is addictive, but in forms such as vapors, the addiction can be weaned, making it less stressful to break. And when a whole range of chemicals are added to tobacco in both combustible and smokeless forms that enhance its flavor and addictive properties that you run into while slew of additional problems. Here is a brief overview of what you can expect from withdrawal and what to expect when quitting smoking.
The first 24 hours are fantastic
Need a pick me up? Quit smoking for 24 hours. Not only does the CO2 level in your bloodstream return to normal after just 12 hours without a cigarette, but you will feel good about yourself and the decision you have made. It’s the next week when things get hard.
The majority of the physical detox occurs in the first 5 to 7 days
During the first 5 to 7 days of quitting smoking, you will experience the worst aspects of physical withdrawal. Due to the body flushing out the nicotine and associated toxins from your cells. The cells and your brain, are used to taking a shortcut via nicotine to produce endorphins and other hormones that your metabolism needs to run well.
Symptoms of withdrawal can include sweatiness, shakiness, irritability, inability to sleep, nausea, vomiting, headache and more. That’s not pleasant, but neither is it life-threatening, and it is only temporary. Those who have smoked for a long time or who were heavy smokers may have a much longer period of physical withdrawal, but the first week is the worst.
The next 3 weeks are all about the habit of smoking
During the next three weeks, you may find that your physical withdrawal symptoms fade, but your cravings increase. It can be hard to tell the differences. Many people have described the psychological cravings as having the physical sensation of a burning hunger or emptiness. This is when you will be most irritable. What is important to remember is that the mind likes shortcuts. It is lazy. Those psychological cravings have to do with the lack of reward stimulation the brain received from the nicotine, and it is throwing a tantrum. The main culprit is the dopamine receptors in the brain.
The good news is that there are other habits you can take on that will feed the dopamine cravings, but not hurt your health, and is where exercise comes in. It is the easiest way to generate endorphins to ease the cravings. With time, your body will learn to crave the exercise.
Diet also becomes important for the same reason
While you do need to make dietary changes to support your body’s healing during recovery and avoid weight gain, there are also things you should be aware of to help avoid increasing your cravings. Fatty foods, fried foods, and sugar will all contribute to increasing your psychological cravings. Steer clear of them and you will have a much easier time.
What comes after?
It can take up to a year before you can confidently say that you are an ex-smoker. There will be ups and downs during the year, and you need to realize two things. The addiction to the chemical reaction caused in the brain’s reward centers is very powerful; the brain will remember and crave that release when under stress.
Just because you have a craving doesn’t mean you have failed. Having a craving means that you are making progress, and you need to embrace them. One thing you should do is spend some time thinking about why you started smoking, and why you continued smoking for so long when you were so very aware of its dangers. Undoubtedly, this will help you build up your defenses against a powerful urge.
Always have a support system in place
When you first quit smoking everyone tells you to make sure you have a support system in place. That can be family or friends, or even an online community that you can turn to when you need help staying quit. That is something you should always have in your life. It will help you stay quit, and help you to build towards a healthier life. Social support is one of the keys to any change, but it is especially important when you are quitting smoking. For most people it takes several tries at quitting before it sticks, so don’t worry if you aren’t successful the first few times. Use each attempt as a learning experience to lead you to the one that will stay.