Stopping inhalation of nicotine (which is the addictive substance in tobacco) causes discomfort and physical side effects in most people.
What to look for
Withdrawal symptoms in cigarette users include the following;
- constipation or diarrhoea.
- falling heart rate and blood pressure.
- fatigue, drowsiness, and insomnia.
- difficulty concentrating.
- increased hunger.
- tobacco cravings.
Withdrawal from nicotine is characterised by the above symptoms. Nicotine creates a chemical dependency, so that the body develops a need for a certain level of nicotine at all times. Unless that level is maintained, the body will begin to go through withdrawal.
Giving up nicotine is not very pleasant for most people as a consequence of the withdrawal symptoms, however they are usually completely gone in six months.
The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are responses to the removal of a substance on which the body has become dependent.
Your doctor may recommend a smoking cessation program such nicotine replacement packs and may also prescribe nicotine-based chewing gum to help you through withdrawal. These aids are only provided to help you wean yourself off smoking, not as a substitute for nicotine.
Alternative therapies can offer support to tobacco users trying to quit their habit. Behaviour modification techniques that may help include meditation and guided imagery.
Herbal Therapies – Lobelia (Lobelia inflata) has actions similar to nicotine but is gentler and longer lasting. It is often used by medical herbalists in conjunction with ephedra (Ephedra sinica), a stimulant, to help tobacco users quit. Always see a professional as these herbs may have side effects that are serious. Lobelia (Lobelia inflata) has actions similar to nicotine but is gentler and longer lasting. It is often used by medical herbalists in conjunction with ephedra (Ephedra sinica), a stimulant, to help tobacco users quit. Always see a professional as these herbs may have side effects that are serious.
Herbalists also often recommend the following herbs to calm the nervous system during withdrawal – chamomile (Matricaria recutita), hops (Humulus lupulus), and valerian (Valeriana officinalis).
Most programs will suggest you analyse your habit and the reasons why you smoke. These are beneficial as they offer insights into the underlying causes of your habit.
It is also a good idea to pick a specific day to stop smoking – at least a couple of weeks in advance and tell all your friends and family of your intention. They will be invaluable support and you will also feel obliged to give up smoking as you have told everybody of your intentions.
Your success depends upon your motivation and will to give up. Talk to yourself often and tell yourself how good you will eventually feel with a healthy body and mind. As well as this tell yourself how much money you will save as a result of not smoking – this money can go towards a luxury item you have been denying yourself.
The best preventive step is not to start using tobacco and to educate your children to its dangers.
When to seek further professional advice
- you are a tobacco user concerned about your health for any reason