John has a comprehensive article he wrote on the physical and emotional changes that people can experience when quitting smoking. (See http://whyquit.com/whyquit/A_Symptoms.html) I tried to copy and paste the whole article into a post on the Freedom board but it was too big. So I am going to break the article into segments and post it here. This way if anyone ever brings up symptoms we will have a string to bring up that discuss what symptoms are sometimes experienced when quitting. It is important to note though that while some symptoms can occur, it is not safe to assume that any specific symptom is just happening because you have quit smoking. I am going to attach a few comments about this after posting the original article here.
WARNING: The below information is NOT MEDICAL ADVICE and you should IMMEDIATELY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN should you experience ANY condition or symptom that causes YOU concern or alarm, including continuing depression. Although we're pretty safe in blaming withdrawal for almost all the effects we feel during the first three days, we need to pay close attention to what our body is telling us! If at all concerned, give your doctor a call!
The below symptom information was complied by a nicotine cessation counselor who is not a physician. The information provided is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your physician. Do not rely upon any information at this site to replace individual consultations with your doctor or other qualified health care provider.
We are Nicotine Addicts! - Physical withdrawal and psychological recovery are a temporary period of adjustment during which the body and mind begin the healing process, as they learn to once again live comfortably without nicotine, and fewer and fewer thoughts of wanting to smoke occur with each passing day. It is the period when deeply ingrained psychological habits that were fathered by true chemical dependency are broken. Whether nicotine dependency was established and/or maintained by being smoked, chewed, inhaled, drank, snuffed, sprayed, swallowed, sucked, licked or patched, in the end there is only one way out - no more nicotine!
Every recovery is different! The number and intensity of effects noticed or felt during recovery varies from person to person, and even between each person's own cessation experiences. Many members at Freedom are surprised to find that they experience almost no symptoms at all while others are confronted with multiple symptoms. The number and types of particular feeding habits selected and formed by endless compliance with the mind's chemical demand for nicotine refueling also cause each person's recovery experience to be almost unique.
By understanding some of the symptoms and effects it may be possible, in some instances, to minimize their impact by thought or action. Removing the mystery associated with the sequencing and timing of withdrawal and recovery will hopefully make you feel like you have your very own roadmap to the rich sense of comfort and calmness at the other end of Freedom's Road. We didn't suck tissue destroying tar composed of over 4,000 chemicals including ammonia, formaldehyde, arsenic, butane, hydrogen cyanide, lead, mercury, vinyl chloride, methane or vast quantities of carbon monoxide into our body because we want to watch each puff destroy a bit more of our body's capacity to receive and circulate life-giving oxygen. We did so to get to the nicotine! Is it time for our self-destruction to end?
Nicotine is a colorless, odorless, poisonous, organic-based alkaloid in the same family as cocaine, morphine, quinine and strychnine. Although cocaine and heroin both produce powerfully intoxicating illegal highs, governments, experts and studies are now telling us that neither is as "addictive" as nicotine. The one year success rate for those who go through heroin withdrawal is about 20%, whereas with nicotine it's only 5 to 10%. Except for the type of high experienced and that fact that our stimulant is legal, we truly are drug addicts, just as much as the addicts that fill jails and prisons around the globe. In 1998 tobacco killed 25 times more Americans than all illegal drugs combined (418,690 to 16,926 - U.S. Center for Disease Control).
Don't Talk Yourself Into Having Symptoms - If you have a toothache at the same time you have a headache, the one that will receive the most attention and focus is the one generating the greatest pain or the most discomfort. As soon as the discomfort from your primary concern falls below that of your secondary concern, your focus will immediately change to the other. We do the same type of primary/secondary focusing with the effects of withdrawal and the phases of recovery. Sometimes we don't even notice a particular symptom until the discomfort of a prior one subsides.
Although the intensity of each remaining effect may be far less significant than the one that preceded it, the mind of the drug addict is looking for any excuse to relapse. After the dramatic reduction in overall symptoms and effects experienced within the first 72 hours, recovery remains continuous yet at times may be so gradual that - like trying to watch a rose bud open - almost becomes impossible to notice change. Yet, within just 2 to 4 months the adjustment process transports most in recovery to a point where they experience that very first day where they never once "think" to themselves, "gee, I'd sure like a smoke!" After the first such day they become more and more common. Soon, they become your new norm in life, with the distance between the occasional "thought" growing further and further apart.
Imagine entire days, weeks, months and possibly even years, where your mind never once "wants" to smoke. Imagine living in a constant state of 100% total comfort with no smoking related anxieties whatsoever - none, zero, nil, complete and total tranquility. It's where almost one billion comfortable ex-smokers reside today, none of whom where stronger than nicotine or you! Breaking free doesn't take muscle or mountains of willpower. It takes dreams and honest reasons for wanting those dreams, that are kept vivid, remembered, alive, and in the front-seat of your mind. It takes study, understanding, patience an appreciation for the true power of nicotine, and a bit of love of self or at least "like". It takes following only simple rule - just one day at a time, no nicotine in any form, Never Take Another Puff!
Upon ending my thirty-year and three pack-a-day dependency upon nicotine, my recovery evolved to the point of substantial comfort by about eight weeks, a few weeks earlier than most but later than some. During the first few weeks I worked very hard to maintain a strong positive attitude while refusing to allow negative thoughts to infect my thinking and dreams. While feeding myself large doses of positive thought I also confronted and analyzed those remaining thoughts that kept calling me back, a. Soon, it was no longer a matter of trying to believe what I was telling myself. I did believe in the new nicotine-free me!
Although a couple of times intense, I did my best to remain focused on the long overdue healing occurring inside this body. I saw each and every day as a full and complete victory in and of itself. Today I was free and today I continued to heal! The little gifts along the way - the smells, tastes, energy, extra pocket change, the whiteness emerging in the smile, pride, empty pockets, odorless fingers, hope, endurance, an ashless world, new found time, self-respect, lengthening periods of comfort, freedom and even the few extra pounds - was simply me coming home to meet me! I encourage you not to fight your recovery but to find joy in it! Welcome each crave and thought, and embrace them as a very necessary part this amazing period of adjustment. It's nice never having to quit again! Our prior attempts failed because we lacked understanding but not this time! Our eyes and minds are open and this time we're going the distance! You're going home to meet "you" again!
The problem with symptom lists, such as this, is that simply by reading them we tend to lead our minds to look for and expect symptoms to occur. In fact, mental expectations are capable of generating mental symptoms. This phenomenon - known as psychological overlay - is very real. Most starting home do NOT experience the majority of the symptoms listed below. They are shown here only to educate, allay unnecessary concerns and/or to satisfy curiosity.
Do not sell your mind on the belief that starting your new life needs to be painful or intense. If you relax, maintain a positive attitude, keep your reasons for wanting to break free in the forefront of your mind, abandon the unrealistic standard of "quitting forever" and instead focus on only the next hour, challenge or day (there is no need to see yourself eating the entire elephant when one bite at a time is plenty), drink plenty of fruit juice for the first three days to keep your blood sugar level, don't skip meals, consider reducing your caffeine intake by roughly half if you're a big caffeine user, this adventure toward meeting the nicotine-free and comfortable you may turn out to be the most enjoyable and deeply satisfying experience of your entire life, even if challenged now and then!
We are what we think. If you think recovery will be difficult then it why shouldn't it be? If you believe that the healing happening inside that body is utterly amazing then it is! If you keep thinking you will fail then chances are you will. If you believe that no force or circumstance on his planet can stop your quest for freedom then nothing can. Victory is in the mind.