A smoker’s brain works better when on nicotine because nicotine releases extra serotonin and dopamine in their brain. The two chemicals when released in extra quantity than the brain normally does, serve to improve cognitive brain functions such as clear thinking and brain’s power to memorize, etc.
When a smoker quits, the body begins to adjust to normal levels of chemicals, in reaction to which, the smoker feels different withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms begin to appear very soon after the last cigarette.
A breakdown and analysis of nicotine withdrawal symptoms and their timeline are put forward before you to help you understand the nature of nicotine addiction and what it is like to give up the habit.
Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms with Timeline
As soon as you put out the last cigarette, your body will start to come back to its normal state again. The need for another cigarette will quickly kick. Here’s a withdrawal timeline that represents what you might expereince:
30 Minutes After Your Last Cigarette
Studies suggest that the withdrawal symptoms begin to show as rapidly as within thirty minutes of quitting. The last cigarette that you smoked begins to wear off. The nicotine is still inside your body, but having traveled into your bloodstreams, the effect has weakened now. Your heart has begun to pound normally again, and the blood pressure is fine. This is when the first cravings start to happen. The interval in between and strength of the cravings may vary from smoker to smoker. For some smokers, the cravings will begin after 2 to 3 hours of the last puff.
You feel like lighting another cigarette to get that sensation again, but you refrain yourself for the better.
10 Hours After Quitting
You start feeling anxious and need another hit right away. Your body demands nicotine as your brain is not used to function without it. Anxiety may turn into frustration, and your mood gets off. You fear that you might end up with a sleepless night if you do not smoke. But you busy yourself with another activity instead. Smoking is a time-filler as well so engaging in activities other than smoking is a surefire way to get your mind off it.
What happens is that when you do not smoke for ten hours, the carbon monoxide in your blood starts to wash away. The carbon monoxide which is a byproduct of cigarette smoke, gels very well with your blood cells, due to which smoker fall victim to severe cardiac diseases. As the carbon monoxide levels decrease, more oxygen is produced as a result. You will feel a definite improvement in your breathing pattern.
24 Hours Smoke-Free
You have done it. A day without smoking! That is quite an achievement. You are slowly on your way to getting rid of the nicotine. The nicotine withdrawal symptoms, however, are on the peak at this moment. You are very moody, and even the littlest things set you off. The cravings are stronger than ever, and you feel helpless. Nothing seems to help your irritability at all. Although the palpitations are there, and you feel like you have a heavy burden on your shoulders, you manage to shut that demon out and continue with your day.
Congratulations! You have already lowered your chances to develop a heart disease by some percentage. Your heart has been smoke-free for a whole day now.
48 Hours – Be Prepared for Headaches
Coping with nicotine withdrawal is not easy, but it is not impossible, as nothing is. You have not had a cigarette for two days now, and the headaches are beginning to creep in. This is accompanied by an increase in the level of stress. Even the routine tasks are appearing to be extra complicated. You begin to wonder that your head is not in the game. You have trouble in focusing on and carrying out your tasks.
However, these symptoms will fade with the passage of the day, and you will feel the change soon afterward. Smokers develop imparity in their sense of smell and taste. These once dulled senses will start to come back as your nerve endings begin to revitalize again. You will be able to smell and taste like you used to when you did not smoke. Everything will start to make sense, and you will feel lively again.
72 Hours Without Nicotine
By the third day, the nicotine has totally washed out of your system. You are officially nicotine-free now. This is the good news. The bad news is that this is when the nicotine withdrawal symptoms will toughen in effect. You are likely to feel nauseated and sweaty. You may also experience chills, cramps, and other physical symptoms. Alongside these physical symptoms, you may also experience emotional stress, depression, and mood swings.
It won’t be easy, but you will get through it. This is the worst stage of nicotine withdrawal symptoms which will also get over soon.
7 Days Without Smoking
You have hit the mark now. You are in the safe zone now, but do not let the guard down just now. You begin to feel that the cravings are not as strong as before. You can easily distract your mind from smoking, and the overall energy levels of your body have started to normalize again.
You go for a jog, do your home chores and have a nice dinner with your family afterward. You feel motivated to seal the deal now.
Gradually, a month or so later, your lungs will start to return to their normal state again. Your cough will increase but do not worry, as that is just your lungs cleaning out the mucus that was stored in them.
You have completed the cycle and fought the withdrawal symptoms successfully. Give yourself a pat on the back!