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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Coping with Withdrawal Symptoms: Navigating the Challenges of Quitting Tobacco

If you are trying to quit smoking, you may experience some unpleasant physical and mental changes. These are signs of nicotine withdrawal, and they can make quitting very difficult. Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco that makes you addicted, and it affects your brain and body in various ways. When you stop smoking, your nicotine levels drop and your body has to adjust to being without it. This can cause symptoms such as:

- Strong cravings for tobacco

- Anxiety, irritability, or frustration

- Difficulty concentrating or sleeping

- Increased appetite or weight gain

- Headaches, nausea, or constipation

These symptoms can vary in intensity and duration depending on how long and how much you smoked, and how you quit. Some people may have mild symptoms that last for a few days, while others may have severe symptoms that last for weeks or months. However, nicotine withdrawal is not dangerous, and it will get better over time as long as you stay smoke-free.

The good news is that there are many effective strategies for coping with withdrawal symptoms and overcoming the challenges of quitting tobacco. Here are some tips to help you manage your symptoms and stay on track with your quit plan:

- Use a quit-smoking medicine. There are several types of medicines that can help reduce your withdrawal symptoms and your urge to smoke. These include nicotine replacement products (such as patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, or nasal spray), prescription pills (such as bupropion or varenicline), or e-cigarettes (although their safety and effectiveness are not fully proven). Talk to your doctor about which medicine is right for you and how to use it correctly.

- Keep busy and distract yourself. When you feel a craving to smoke, try to do something else that occupies your mind and hands. For example, you can call a friend, play a game, read a book, listen to music, chew gum, drink water, or go for a walk. You can also plan ahead and have some healthy snacks or activities ready for when you expect to have cravings.

- Be active – some physical activity is better than none! Physical activity can help you cope with stress, improve your mood, boost your energy, and reduce your appetite. It can also help you avoid weight gain after quitting smoking. You don't have to do intense exercise; even a few minutes of moderate activity can make a difference. Find an activity that you enjoy and that fits your schedule, such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing, or gardening.

- Spend time with friends who don’t smoke. Having social support is very important when you quit smoking. It can help you stay motivated, cope with stress, and deal with cravings. Try to spend more time with people who support your decision to quit and who don't smoke around you. You can also join a quit-smoking group or an online community where you can share your experiences and get tips from other quitters.

- See other ways to manage withdrawal. There are many other resources that can help you cope with withdrawal symptoms and quit smoking successfully. You can visit websites such as https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/index.html or https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking/basics/quit-smoking-basics/hlv-20049487 for more information and advice. You can also call a quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or text QUIT to 47848 for free counseling and support.

Quitting tobacco is one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being. It may not be easy, but it is possible with the right tools and support. Remember why you want to quit and how far you have come. You can do this!

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