On 24th March, a nationwide lockdown was announced allowing only essential activities. For smokers, it was a challenge to stock up on cigarettes, leading to many exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, short temper and irritability.
Swapna Nair, psychologist and senior counsellor at Parentune.com, said, “Symptoms begin to show post four hours of smoking a cigarette for a heavy smoker. While for those who do not smoke heavily, it would take a long time, such as the time of the day they usually pick up a cigarette.”
People have different ways of beating addiction. Dr Nair says, “Interestingly, smokers have varied ways of giving up the habit. Some choose to quit on their own rather than opting for rehab programmes. Others just give up one fine day, while others phase it out. It is solely dependent on the nature of the habit.”
Dr Mandeep Singh Malhotra, Senior Consultant at Fortis hospital, Vasant Kunj explains how nicotine is the key chemical compound that causes and sustains tobacco addiction. “When one stops smoking, the reduced nicotine intake will disturb the balance of the central nervous system, causing withdrawal symptoms,” he explains.
Nothing but perseverance
The doctor also mentions common symptoms below.
• Strong cravings
• Weight gain
While we are all self-isolated, nicotine withdrawal can take a toll on your mental health as well. Dr Prakriti Poddar, expert in mental health, Director Poddar Wellness Ltd remarked, “When the nicotine starts receding from your bloodstream, mood swings are not under your control even with medicine. There’s just one way, which is to stay strong mentally.”
Begin with small steps
Dr Nair lists three easy steps that will make the process easier during this period.
The foremost step is to consciously decide to quit and set goals. Here, usually, smokers are quite ambivalent about the decision to quit. They are confused, try to evade and most of all, they are scared of withdrawal symptoms. They may need help from friends and family to make the commitment. Then only can one move forward with a specific plan.
The next thing is to bring your plan to life and put it into action. Here family and friends become important in the process and it is highly advised they help the person who is trying to quit. Avoid nagging because the person on most days will be very anxious and stressed. We have to remember that a smoker turns to a cigarette to avoid stress and anxiety.
The first two steps can be difficult but maintaining the change diligently is what is required. This is a difficult phase where chances of relapse are prominent.
Dr Poddar points out that there is always a silver lining in a dark cloud, “Most addictions take approximately 21 days to be rid of. Thus, if you’ve gone 21 days without alcohol, cigarettes, or any kind of substances, in high probability, you’re in a good state to never come back to it.”
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