Make Your New Year’s Quitting Resolution: Manage Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
Happy 2022! With the New Year comes the opportunity for new beginnings. Many people start the New Year with resolutions to help them lead healthier lives. If you smoke cigarettes, quitting is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health and quality of life.
Begin your New Year’s resolutions with a plan to quit smoking.
Quitting smoking can be hard, but it is possible, and making a quit plan can help! To increase your chance of success, your quit plan should include strategies to help manage any nicotine withdrawal symptoms you might have. The good news is there are several ways to manage withdrawal symptoms, which can help you keep your resolution to make 2022 the year you quit smoking.
When you stop smoking, your body and brain have to get used to not having nicotine. You may have some uncomfortable symptoms, such as feelings of anxiety or a hard time concentrating or sleeping. This is called withdrawal. Over time, withdrawal symptoms will fade, as long as you stay smokefree.
Below are seven common nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Knowing what to expect in advance of your quit journey may help you keep on track to quit for good.
- Having urges or cravings to smoke.
- Feeling irritated, grouchy, or upset.
- Feeling jumpy or restless.
- Having a hard time concentrating.
- Having trouble sleeping.
- Feeling hungrier or gaining weight.
- Feeling anxious, sad, or depressed.
If feelings of depression get worse or don’t get better, you should get help. Talk to your healthcare provider, call the quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW), or seek appropriate emergency help.
Sometimes people who are feeling depressed think about hurting themselves or dying. If you or someone you know is having these feelings, get help now.
- Make your environment work for you by getting rid of tobacco products, getting support from others, and avoiding temptations.
- Distract yourself with other activities.
- Find safe substitutes for cigarettes like toothpicks, straws, or cinnamon sticks.
- Listen to what the urge says, then talk back!
- Ride the waves! Let the urges come and go.
- Adjust your medicine.
While feeling withdrawal symptoms, remind yourself that you likely feel this way because your body is getting used to being without nicotine. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself why you’re quitting.
If you’d like guidance or support in quitting smoking, a quit coach can help you make a plan to quit for good. Counseling can help you prepare to cope with stress, urges to smoke, and other issues you may face when trying to quit. A quit coach can also help you use quit-smoking medicines correctly.
Smoking is harmful and increases risk for serious illness and death. Geri M., featured in CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®) campaign, smoked about a pack of menthol cigarettes a day for 35 years. Most everyone she knew smoked, so she didn’t think it was a big deal.
When Geri started having trouble catching her breath, she went to her doctor for a checkup. She was only 44 years old when her doctor diagnosed her with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition that makes it harder to breathe and can cause death. She successfully quit smoking soon after, in 2015. Geri wishes she had quit sooner; she now needs a lung transplant and doesn’t know how much time she has left.
Living with COPD left Geri with less and less energy for the activities she loved, like cooking holiday meals for her family or running after her grandchildren at the park. Through supplemental oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation, Geri regained some of her strength. She hopes that one day she’ll be accepted for a lung transplant.
Geri M. talks about the physical aspects of her former job as a mail carrier, and how COPD forced her to quit. She describes how she cannot breathe due to her COPD but tries to enjoy what’s left of her life while she can.
Quitting smoking has health benefits at any age, no matter how long or how much you have smoked. Even people who have smoked for many years, or who have smoked heavily, will benefit from quitting. Some benefits may include improved heart health, lowered risk of cancer and other diseases, and a longer life.
By knowing what to expect and how to manage withdrawal symptoms, you can stick to your New Year’s resolution to quit smoking. The benefits of quitting are far greater than any withdrawal symptoms, which will fade over time. Make 2022 your time to shine and quit smoking! Happy New Year!
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