In our daily life, we always wonder about our day-to-day mental health issues like stress, depression, anxiety, trauma, loneliness, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc. But have we ever wondered the struggles one has to go through when someone wants to quit smoking or alcohol? Here are the causes, symptoms, techniques of coping up when someone wants to quit smoking or quitting alcohol facing alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Reasons for withdrawing those also mentioned below.
Smoking, its effect on the body, and withdrawal symptoms: When someone starts smoking, its ingredient nicotine stimulates adrenal glands that release adrenaline that stimulates the body. Nicotine also increases heart rate, breathing activity, blood pressure. Furthermore, nicotine causes the release of dopamine in the pleasure and motivation areas of the brain that allows users to experience pleasurable sensations. Moreover, it raises awareness, alertness, euphoria, and a sensation of being relaxed. It also increases levels of beta-endorphin that reduces anxiety.
Although nicotine has some stimulating effect, it has some adverse effect as it increases clotting tendency, increase the risk of atherosclerosis thus heart attack. Nicotine also can cause irregular and disturbed sleep, bad dreams and nightmares, nausea and vomiting, indigestion, diarrhea, heartburn, lung cancer. For pregnant women, it can cross the placenta and cause the baby to develop their brain slowly, behavioral issues. Due to these dangerous effects, quitting smoking is important. For all users, nicotine becomes addictive. That’s why those who suddenly stop smoking may experience intense cravings for nicotine, a sense of emptiness, anxiety, depression, moodiness, irritability, difficulty paying attention. headache, nausea, frustration, etc.
Alcohol, its effect on the body, and withdrawal symptoms: When someone is taking alcohol for a longer period of time, our body (central nervous system) adjusts to regular doses of alcohol. Alcohol has many unpleasant effects on the body. For example, long term heavy drinking of alcohol can cause heart damage, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, cause liver damage, damage the digestive system that can cause diarrhea or stomach pain or bloating, gas, and ulcers in the stomach, it prevents the body from properly absorbing the vitamins and minerals from the foods.
Those who taking alcohol for a longer period of time also increases the risk of throat, mouth or esophagus or breast cancer., increases chances of osteoporosis(bone loss), too much alcohol can interfere with coordination and someone’s ability to balance or walk and slowly muscle cramping. For pregnant women, it can cause placenta causing fetal alcohol syndrome. For all users, alcohol is responsible for releasing pleasure chemicals that cause dependency. Alcohol can interfere with chemicals from the brain that alters typical behavior affects mental clarity to make smart decisions. For these, quitting alcohol is necessary.
Normally alcohol enhances the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitters, which is known as GABA. It helps to bring calming effects. Hence when someone wants to quit alcohol there is an increase in brain hyperexcitability (decreasing activity of GABA) that is manifested by anxiety, irritability, agitation in most severe cases can be seizures or hallucinations. This can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, insomnia, and the body also faces challenges such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or even some cases abnormal liver function. The severity of symptoms depends on age, gender, drinking habits (how many times used to drink and how much).
Strategies of coping with mental health challenges of withdrawing alcohol or quitting smoking: When someone is quitting addictive behavior, one needs a supportive environment to get through. That may involve a quiet place, cool lightning, drinking plenty of water. One may need to go through therapy sessions with counselors or someone well-trained therapist. Doctors may prescribe some medications in order to cope up with it. Any physical activity such as swimming, running, jogging, walking, playing sports or other activity like watching televisions or movies, working on passion, spending quality time with family and friends and overall, the willpower can help someone to get through.
If someone has a toxic family member or friends, better to stay away from them. It’s better to spend time with good, minded people and avoiding those who smoke or take alcohol. Small rewards can be given when someone passes one day completely smoke or alcohol-free. All these together with one’s willpower helps to cope up with challenges, and once the body starts adjusting without alcohol and smoking, slowly bodies’ circulation improves, bodies’ overall energy level increases, risk of cancers, coronary heart disease and other diseases decreases. Mental capability including thinking with clarity, decision-making skills also increases. In short, slowly someone returns to normal life.
Written by: Rahima Binta Bashar
Rahima Binta Bashar is passionate about human biology and in progress to become a doctor. She recently learnt to enjoy leisure time learning about mental health issues.