Lots of people struggle with cutting back or quitting commercial tobacco. This is completely normal, but why does it happen, and how can the process be a little easier? Read on to learn how to support yourself or someone else in their journey.

Commercial tobacco contains nicotine and nicotine causes addiction and physical dependence. Addiction means that a person cannot control their use of a substance even when they are aware of harmful consequences. One of the best signs of nicotine addiction is withdrawal symptoms. Some people can go into nicotine withdrawal in as little as 1 hour.

When you stop smoking, the nicotine levels in your body drop, triggering withdrawal symptoms. It is good to know that these symptoms are temporary and are often signs your body is healing. Withdrawal symptoms peak within the first three days of quitting and subside within one to four weeks. These symptoms can be difficult to cope with and many smokers might not be able to quit on their first try as these symptoms can be hard to handle. If you know what to expect you can think of ways to manage the symptoms. Typical withdrawal symptoms can include dizziness and shakiness, headaches, anxiety and irritability, nervousness and restlessness, difficulty concentrating and sleeping, increased appetite, feeling down and cravings for a smoke. Other side effects may include tiredness and coughing, showing that your body is in a state of repair and healing. The use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy or other pharmacotherapy used for cessation can help to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Smoking is also a learned behaviour, causing you to form habits that are tough to break. You learn to associate things with smoking such as the pleasant feelings that it brings you, the temporary relief of worry, tension, boredom or fatigue. Smoking may also go “hand in hand” with drinking coffee or alcohol, eating a good meal, and/or having a good time with friends. These behaviours can often be more challenging to deal with than symptoms of withdrawal. Having a plan in place, other things to do instead of smoking and someone to support you are ways to increase your chances of success when you are cutting back or quitting.

If you happen to smoke or know someone who does, there are services out there that can help! Starting to think about what it might be like to cut down or quit may be the first step in a journey to a life free of commercial tobacco.

Services Available in Thunder Bay:

Academy Pharmacy, Anishnawbe Mushkiki, Aurora Family Health Team, Dilico Family Health Team, Fort William Family Health Team, Harbourview Family Health Team, Lakehead NPLC, NorWest Community Health Center, River Terrace Medical Pharmacy, TBDHU, TBRHSC.

Talk to Emma or Kathleen at Anishnawbe Mushkiki for more information about the services in Thunder Bay or if you’d like to work on a quit plan.

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