What is Abstinence Syndrome? & How to Cope With it?

Quitting smoking is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult things, but one of the greatest achievements that you can achieve as a smoker. It is a very difficult path where you will have to face the different symptoms of quitting smoking produced by the Nicotine withdrawal syndrome.

What is Abstinence Syndrome?

Withdrawal syndrome is produced by a series of physical and psychological reactions that appear when a person is addicted to a substance and stops consuming it, usually occurring with drugs.

When you take the step and decide to quit smoking, you decide to end the addiction you have to the different components of tobacco. For this reason, we want to give you all the information you need to know what withdrawal syndrome is, what manifestations it has and what you can do to overcome this syndrome.

Symptoms of withdrawal syndrome

When you stop smoking, nicotine withdrawal syndrome arises, with some of the following symptoms:

  • Irritability : Half of people who quit smoking feel irritable. This symptom is usually more intense in the first days, but usually disappears after 3-4 weeks.
  • Depression or sadness : When smokers stop smoking, they may feel sadness or depression, but fortunately it is not a feeling that becomes chronic, but usually disappears after a short time.
  • Dizziness : Dizziness is a symptom that ex-smokers feel in the first hours of quitting smoking, but it disappears more easily than other symptoms.
  • Lack of concentration : Sometimes, by putting all the effort and energy into quitting smoking, we are not able to concentrate on other things such as work or studies. This concentration may be affected for a couple of weeks after quitting smoking.
  • Anxiety : Anxiety levels decrease as the time you spend without smoking, once the first weeks have passed, that anxiety decreases. Anxiety is not a symptom of the withdrawal syndrome as such, but rather arises from the process of quitting smoking.
  • Want to smoke : The most common thing in ex-smokers is to really want to smoke during the quitting process. At first it seems like a constant desire, but soon that desire becomes specific moments and stops being so intense.
  • Sleep disorders : Some people when they stop smoking say that they wake up at night during the first weeks. It is normal, since our body is adapting to a new non-smoking state, which is why it may feel a little out of place.
  • Colds and chest discomfort : The body is working to expel all the tar, and that translates into colds and chest discomfort. These chest infections are normal during the recovery process.
  • Increased appetite and weight gain : Nicotine speeds up the metabolism, so you burn more calories than when you quit smoking. Over time this is counterproductive, because the smoker’s respiratory capacity is reduced as he smokes, so he may become less and less active and end up gaining weight in the same way. Smoking is not a remedy against obesity.

When you stop smoking, you don’t have to feel all of these changes simultaneously, but you can feel some of them with greater or lesser intensity. Although numerous studies affirm that about half of smokers have confirmed feeling at least four of these withdrawal symptoms.

Normally, the withdrawal syndrome usually occurs between the first 2 and 12 hours of stopping smoking, although it reaches its highest point of intensity on the second or third day and can last up to 4 weeks. Although as we already said, this is always very relative, since it will depend on the addiction and the degree of dependence of the smoker.

What effects can withdrawal syndrome cause?

When you decide to stop smoking, you should know that it is normal for a series of effects to occur in your body that will directly affect your mood, this is what is commonly called withdrawal syndrome.

It is characterized by an irritable mood, depression, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, frequent dizziness… all this accompanied by an intense desire to smoke. The symptoms and their intensity vary from one person to another, and they also vary depending on the method to quit smoking chosen.

We recommend that you seek help to be able to last as long as the withdrawal syndrome from quitting smoking lasts. Despite being very hard, you must keep in mind the reasons why you decided to quit smoking, each day will be a new challenge that you must overcome.

What can I do about nicotine cravings?

It is important to manage the symptoms of quitting smoking to avoid possible relapses. Learning to manage them requires time and practice, it is even advisable to have a plan to overcome that urge to smoke.

To avoid those cravings to smoke, we offer the following suggestions:

  • Avoid all situations that, in one way or another, are associated with tobacco, also avoiding smoking areas.
  • Keeping your mouth busy also usually helps to resolve the craving for smoking. For example, chewing sugarless gum, candy…
  • Exercising, going for a walk or running is another way available to everyone to help beat the craving.
  • Among the previous suggestions, playing sports is one of them that, in addition to avoiding relapse, will help control the weight gain caused by quitting smoking. Studies have shown that smokers weigh less than those who never smoked, but that once smokers stop smoking, they usually reach the weight they would have had if they had never smoked.

How can I overcome Abstinence syndrome?

Now that you know the symptoms of withdrawal syndrome, it will be easier for you to identify them and try to alleviate them effectively, in this way you will be able to avoid a possible relapse.

That is why we recommend that you use relaxation techniques to calm the urge to smoke, as well as choose effective and scientifically supported treatments to quit smoking, such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) , which will help you relieve the urge to smoke more. intense.

NRT is based on the administration of low doses of nicotine to the individual through a route other than cigarettes. In this way, a sufficient dose will be administered to help the smoker relieve the symptoms of withdrawal syndrome, but in insufficient quantity to create dependence.

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