Smoking addictions are incredibly common - the nicotine found in tobacco becomes highly addictive when smoked regularly.
While millions of people smoke globally, studies show that over 70% of smokers want to quit their addiction, but struggle to succeed. Read on to discover five of the most common symptoms of a nicotine addiction that you should be aware of, including ways to stop smoking if you wish to put an end to this health-damaging addiction.
Common Symptoms of a Nicotine Addiction
There are many tell-tale signs of a nicotine addiction, but the clearest indicator will come from how often you reach for a cigarette. If the cravings are always too strong to ignore, then the addiction is more prevalent. The most common symptoms of an addiction are as follows:
Many people who suffer from a nicotine addiction find themselves gaining a little bit of weight. Nicotine actually triggers the release of glucose in the muscles and liver which alters your insulin response. As a result, you suffer from a drop in blood sugars when away from a cigarette, resulting in the need to replace energy stores with food.
Irritability and Anger
Stress is a common sign of nicotine withdrawal in people who are addicted. This is triggered by the strong dysregulation of the endocrine and central nervous systems. This dysregulation leads to changes in your mood which can make you angry and irritable when you’ve not had a cigarette. This is an incredibly vicious cycle as smokers begin to believe that they need a nicotine rush to stay calm.
Smoking Even When Unwell
If you’re tempted to light up a cigarette even when you’re sick, there’s a strong chance you’re addicted. This is especially the case in people who still insist on maintaining their habit, even with serious conditions such as cancers or heart problems.
Anyone who has smoked will know just how difficult it can be to fight the cravings for a cigarette. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t smoke and are desperate to have a cigarette, it’s a strong indication that you’re very addicted to the nicotine. The longer you can go without needing to light up, the milder your addiction is.
Avoiding Activities That Will Halt Smoking
Many places, such as hospitals, schools and cinemas, are no-smoking zones. If you are avoiding activities with friends or family on the grounds that you know you won’t be able to smoke there, your addiction is taking over.
What Happens When You Stop Smoking?
Nicotine addictions are detrimental to your health, but hard to escape. What happens when you stop smoking? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
When you decide to stop smoking, the cravings for cigarettes come in waves – they can be incredibly intense at first, but then will gradually pass and fade. The body has an amazing ability to heal itself, and it actually happens sooner than you think - just as long as you persevere.
Within 20 minutes, your body has already started the process of healing itself. Your circulation begins to improve, and your blood pressure and pulse return to normal. After eight hours of no nicotine in your system, you have half the amount of nicotine and carbon monoxide in your bloodstream. However, you may also be experiencing intense cravings by this stage.
At 12 hours, your carbon monoxide levels in the body have returned to normal and your heart will be able to perform better as a result. Smokers who smoke a packet of cigarettes a day are twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack as a non-smoker, but by 24 hours without nicotine, the chances of this have lowered.
At 48 hours, your sense of smell and taste are improving, and your body is detoxing the chemicals in your lungs and bloodstream. At this point, you will no doubt be experiencing headaches, dizziness and irritability as your body cleans itself up. This is the toughest time in the quitting stage but sticking with it is vital for success.
By the end of day three, your energy levels will rise and your ability to breathe will be clearer. Between two weeks and three months, you’ll make huge strides and will find you can exercise for longer and breathe more freely. Cravings are still common at this stage, but the intensity will have started to calm down, making it easier to control. From here until the one year mark and beyond, your health continues to improve and your risk of diseases and health concerns drop dramatically.
Check out our guide on the timeline of smoking withdrawal for more information.
Ways to Stop Smoking
If you’re wondering how to stop smoking, we’ve compiled some tips to help you get on the road to recovery. There are many strategies you can choose, from using prescribed stop smoking tablets to specialised chewing gum. Here are the top picks that most smokers find useful.
Use Champix tablets
Champix tablets are one of the most popular medications used to quit smoking. They’re simple to consume and can successfully fight addiction in as little as 12 weeks. There are many benefits which come from using Champix tablets - they help to reduce cravings and eventually win you back a higher quality life. They also help to reduce stress and irritability, as well as alleviating headaches and other addiction-related symptoms; making it easier to keep on track.
Keep yourself busy
Finding a distraction is a great way to reduce your need for nicotine, as often cigarettes are used out of habit. If you can go for a walk, play a game with family or chat to a friend when you feel a craving coming on, you’ll distract yourself enough to let it pass.
Make a list of reasons to quit smoking
When you’re struggling to stay on track, remind yourself of the benefits of quitting and the reasons why you wanted to in the first place. Write down your top five reasons why you want to stop smoking and refer to it every time you have an urge to smoke.
Nicotine is an addictive substance and quitting is never easy. But with the right support and a great mindset, you can overcome your addiction to smoking, as many others have in the past. Whether it’s keeping busy, using prescription medication (which can be through purchased through Express Pharmacy) to ease your cravings or setting goals, quitting smoking is achievable for anyone.
Here at Express Pharmacy, our pharmaceutical experts are passionate about getting you on the road to a healthier life. Be sure to take a look at our stop smoking products or get in touch on 0208 123 0703.