By Jon Trister MD
Nicotine is a drug found in tobacco, which makes smoking addictive. Nicotine can have a wide range of effects on the brain, including:
• boosting mood
• reducing depression
• reducing irritability
• enhancing concentration and short-term memory
• producing a sense of well-being
• reducing appetite
Nicotine can be as addictive as other drugs, including alcohol, cocaine, and morphine.Nicotine withdrawal makes it more difficult to quit. Withdrawal is the set of distressing physical symptoms that occur when you stop using an addictive substance.
What Are the Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal?
The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can begin within 30 minutes of your last use of tobacco. Symptoms will depend on level of addiction. Factors such as duration of used tobacco and how much tobacco se on a daily basis will impact the severity of your symptoms.
Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:
• intense cravings for nicotine
• tingling in the hands and feet
• nausea and intestinal cramping
• coughing, sore throat
• difficulty concentrating
• weight gain
Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal typically peak within two to three days. The symptoms often go away by two weeks. Some people may experience nicotine withdrawal for several months.
How Is Nicotine Withdrawal Treated?
Several different treatment options are available for nicotine withdrawal. Over-the-counter nicotine replacement medications such as nicotine gum and skin patches, or prescription nicotine replacement methods such as inhalers and nasal sprays, can help reduce symptoms by slowly decreasing the amount of nicotine in your body.
Treatment may also include the use of non-nicotine prescription medications such as Chantix.
What Complications Are Associated with Nicotine Withdrawal?
Nicotine withdrawal is not a life-threatening condition. However, people may notice some physical or mood changes once they quit smoking. Some people gain weight as a result of stopping smoking
Some people may also experience mental health issues. Patients who have had episodes of depression in the past may experience a relapse. This may also occur for people who have had bipolar disorder or other substance abuse problems. Depression associated with nicotine withdrawal is often temporary and subsides with time. Depression is a treatable condition, but it can be life-threatening if it’s left untreated.
By Jon Trister MD