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Cold turkey method vs vaping: Managing nicotine withdrawal symptoms

Smokers attempting to quit smoking the old-fashioned way, the cold turkey method, often experience a wide range of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.  It’s not just the lack of nicotine that causes the body, mind, and spirit to sometimes react negatively.  It’s the absence of those little, daily rituals of smoking that wreak havoc on the psyche. 

For example, what do many smokers do first thing in the morning?  They reach for a cup of coffee and immediately light up a cigarette.  Talking on the phone or driving a vehicle without the ability to smoke can also be rather stress-inducing, too.  Switching to vaping as a tobacco harm reduction tool allows smokers to decrease their nicotine intake gradually while helping to limit or eliminate many of the nasty side effects of quitting smoking along the way.

The cold turkey method: nicotine withdrawal symptoms

Did you know that nicotine stays in the human body for a mere three days on average?  Logic would tell us that the withdrawal symptoms should disappear within this same timeframe, right?  But that’s not usually the case.   Even if this were to be true, those three, short days can seem like a lifetime for a smoker trying to quit.  Common nicotine withdrawal symptoms can begin within hours of quitting smoking and can include the following.

  • Headaches and lightheadedness may first begin to appear within the first few hours of quitting These symptoms are usually very mild and often dissipate fairly quickly.
  • Appetite increases are also very common because tobacco cigarettes contain two chemicals that act as appetite suppressants – serotonin and dopamine. Signs of increased appetite may begin in as little as 30-minutes after quitting.  The increased hunger pangs also occur as a result of psychological factors.  Now that you’re not smoking, you need something to do with your hands and mouth.  Since you can’t reach for a cigarette, you reach for a piece of candy or some other quick snack to instantly fill the void. 
  • Fatigue or a noticeable lack of energy is another uncomfortable side effect that smokers trying to quit often experience. Within 10-hours of quitting, you may begin to feel restless and anxious.  Nicotine is a stimulant, which is why smokers often reach for a pack of cigarettes when they need a quick boost of energy.  Quitting smoking via the cold turkey method can even lead to short periods of insomnia, which can cause all sorts of other unforeseen problems.
  • Irritability could be one of those “unforeseen problems” and can start showing itself within the first 24-hours. As the body adjusts to its depleted levels of nicotine intake, moods swing, tensions mount, and irritability often strikes seemingly out of nowhere.  Some smokers trying to quit even have difficulty concentrating.  Combined with the tendency for increased irritability, these symptoms can cause issues with your relationships at home and at work. 

Vaping as a tobacco harm reduction tool for smokers trying to quit

To be clear, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not endorse vaping and electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.  They only endorse conventional, Big Pharma, nicotine replacement therapies like “the patch” and nicotine gums.  And even the most dedicated vaper will readily admit that switching to vaping from smoking comes with its fair share of challenges in the initial days.  However, the negative side effects and withdrawal symptoms from vaping pale in comparison to those cause by the cold turkey method. 

Part of the reason for these discrepancies is that vapers are still ingesting nicotine, but they are not ingesting all of the other toxic stuff secretly hidden inside combustible tobacco cigarettes.  Big Tobacco companies load their products with all kinds of additional chemicals and additives to prevent the tobacco leaves from deteriorating.  Some of these extra chemicals are also highly addictive and intentionally used to keep the smoker hooked.

Switching to vaping not only reduces or eliminates the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking, it also rids the human body of these other toxic substances within days.  Meanwhile, the newbie vaper now has the ability to reduce their levels of nicotine consumption gradually over time by purchasing e-liquids with lower and lower percentage of nicotine. 

Related Article:  Why the ‘e-liquids have germs’ vaping study is bogus

Smokers trying to quit by way of the cold turkey method often begin experiencing their first cravings for a smoke within about 30 minutes to four hours.  Smokers transitioning to vaping may experience cravings, but they will be far less severe and far less frequent comparatively. 

Vaping also addresses many of the psychological hurdles associated with quitting smoking.  It gives you something to do with your hands and mouth, which keeps us from overcompensating by eating too much.  And vaping acts as a substitute for smoking during those early morning coffee rituals, extended phone conversations, and long drives in the car.

Vaping is not a cure-all for quitting smoking, but statistics show that electronic cigarettes are much more effective in helping smokers quit permanently than any Big Pharma product currently on the market.  In fact, a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that vaping is over twice as effective as any nicotine-enhanced patch, gum, or lozenge. 

Related Article: Vaping is twice as effective than NRTs for smoking cessation, says new study

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