Coping With Nicotine Withdrawal

Ear Acupuncture
Ear Acupuncture

I usually ask people who want to stop smoking to write down all the good things about smoking:  if smoking gets you out of the office, into the sunshine, breathing deep and talking with friends, you need to find ways to keep those things into your life without the cigarettes.  Chewing a licorice stick (the root, not the candy) will calm your adrenals, feels a bit like a cigarette and will occupy your hands.  Ear acupuncture will help with the jitters.

It can be sobering to look at actual lungs of smokers and nonsmokers.  When I worked at The Bodies exhibit, we had examples of normal lungs with firm white tissue, occasionally specked with dark areas from air pollution.  On the other hand the smokers lungs were tarry and black.  In the hands on section we had slices of the lung tissue, and the smokers lung was like a weird black lace, devastated by emphysema.

A close up of healthy versus smoker's lungs
A close up of healthy versus smoker's lungs
Non-smoker's Lungs
Non-smoker's Lungs
Smoker's Lungs
Smoker's Lungs

Here are some other tips and ideas on how long things will last:

Coping With Nicotine Withdrawal

Symptom

Cause

Duration

What to Do

Cough Body is getting rid of mucus which has blocked airways A few days Drink plenty of fluids, use cough drops, hard candies, cough syrup at night to sleep
Lightheaded Body is getting extra oxygen 1 or 2 days Take extra caution, get up and change positions slowly, drink water
Headache More oxygen in system and less carbon monoxide 1-2 weeks Use pain relievers, drink plenty of water, do relaxation exercises, take warm bath
Constipation, gas, stomach pain Intestinal movement decreases for a brief period 1-2 weeks Drink plenty of fluids, add fiber to diet (fruit, vegetables, whole grains), exercise
Irritability Body’s craving for nicotine 2-4 weeks Walk, cut down on caffeine, deep breathing, hot baths, know it will pass
Insomnia Nicotine affects brain wave function 2-4 weeks Cut down on caffeine and avoid after 6 PM, relaxation exercises, hot shower
Fatigue Nicotine is a stimulant 2-4 weeks Exercise, take naps, and get plenty of rest; do not push yourself
Difficulty
concentrating
Body needs time to adjust to lack of stimulation from nicotine A few weeks Plan workload, avoid additional stress, allow extra time, make “to do” lists, relaxation exercises
Hunger, increased
appetite
Craving for cigarettes may be confused with hunger pangs A few weeks Drink water or low-calorie drinks, have low-calorie snacks on hand
Dysphoric or depressed mood, emotional Adjustment to life without nicotine and tobacco A few weeks Talk to a friend, take time out, get support
Craving for a cigarette Withdrawal from nicotine, an addictive drug A few weeks Wait out urge and remind yourself that they last only a few minutes, deep breathe, distract yourself, drink water, walk

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