If quitting smoking were easy and free of uncomfortable side effects, not only would everybody quit who wanted to quit, but few would even begin to smoke in the first place. Why? Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances you will ever know. Nicotine is the reason you continued to smoke after trying it a few times; nicotine is the reason why you have had trouble quitting in the past; and nicotine is the reason why you feel so poorly during the first days or weeks after you have quit.
Smoking cigarettes is not an addiction to smoking, it's an addiction to nicotine. The act of smoking—the ritual of lighting up at certain times of the day—is more habitual; the true, clinical addiction is to nicotine.
Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include the following:
- You may experience some generalized depression or unhappiness.
- You might feel a general sense of being anxious or restless, of your stomach tied up a bit.
- You might be impatient regarding even trivial things, and quick to get angry or irritated.
- Trouble sleeping
- You may not be able to fall asleep very easily, you may wake up often, and you might have some unpleasant dreams.
- Nicotine withdrawal commonly causes headaches.
- Increased appetite
- Since nicotine is an appetite suppressant, you may find yourself especially hungry.
It is so important for people experiencing these symptoms for the first time (and even veterans of the feelings) to remember that many of them can be directly attributed to the absence of nicotine entering your body, i.e. you can ascribe much of it to the “nicotine talking.”
These withdrawal symptoms will typically begin within a few to several hours following your last cigarette. They will be unpleasant and uncomfortable, but they will pass. Expect them to peak after 48 to 72 hours.
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