woman lights up a cigarette

Quitting Smoking and Fatigue: Why It Happens

Efficiently managing an unwanted habit or addiction can be a daunting task for everyone involved; you or your loved one may be faced with employing a multifaceted approach for successful rehabilitation to occur in both the body and the mind, as well as coping with unhealthy behaviors.

It is important to understand the mind-body relationship’s synergistic effect when observing a physiological or psychological process, such as substance abuse and addiction. It has been widely reported that nicotine is damaging to the physical system.

Many anti-tobacco ads have become centered around the deleterious effects to the lungs, heart, and other major organ systems through regular smoke and nicotine exposure. However, as scientific research evolves, it has become apparent that smoking tobacco poses serious threats to not only your body but your mind as well.

So, you quit smoking. Now what? The implications of anti-tobacco ads are not typically detail-oriented regarding the harsh reality of nicotine withdrawal. As people employ different strategies to combat tobacco dependence and addiction, many report vast arrays of withdrawal symptoms, including fatigue. Figuring out the cause of fatigue after quitting tobacco can be solved by a conscious examination of the body, mind, or alternative behaviors contributing to the sluggishness.

It is important to note that experiencing fatigue has been an indicator of potential relapse, so remaining patient with your body, emotions, and behaviors is crucial to combat this unhealthy addiction effectively.

Withdrawal

When a foreign substance, such as nicotine, enters the system, natural hormones and neurotransmitters react to create numerous interactions and processes throughout your mind and body.

The chemical structure of nicotine possesses the ability to imitate a naturally occurring neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. The purpose of acetylcholine is extensive in the brain and body; however, as a smoker develops a tolerance to the chemicals found in cigarettes, the body’s need to replenish acetylcholine is replaced by nicotine, thus decreasing the body’s natural production of acetylcholine.

As your brain adjusts to not receiving signals via nicotine, acetylcholine production will naturally compensate for the depletion of the imposter molecule; experiencing this side effect of withdrawal can be responsible for the drowsiness experienced with smoking cessation.

Pulmonary Interactions

It should come as no surprise that smoke of all varieties is harmful to your lungs. A major byproduct of tobacco smoke is carbon monoxide; through inhalation and blood saturation levels, carbon monoxide can bind to red blood cells, reduce the flow of oxygen to vital organs, and lead to tiredness fatigue.

In addition to a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream over time, cigarettes’ harmful chemicals create a toxic coating over your lungs and alveoli- the structures responsible for gas exchange.

This tar-like substance hinders your lung’s capacity, cleaning ability, and the efficiency to deliver oxygen to the system. Chronic lung damage through continual cigarette exposure occurs as the lungs lose elasticity leading to fatigue.

Final Thoughts

Identifying and effectively managing potential stressors and decreasing workload demands in your everyday life is crucial to remaining diligent in combating addiction.

The effects of smoking cessation can be observed immediately, as the effects of the chemicals wear off, and typically extend up to 12 weeks; however, no matter how difficult the withdrawal period might be for you or your loved ones (the first few weeks after you quit smoking are typically the hardest), it is possible to prevail past any withdrawal symptoms.

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