The Unexpected Effects Of Quitting Smoking

Nicotine is highly addictive, which is why quitting smoking is often one of the most difficult things a person will have to do. While quitting is certainly within your best interests, that doesn’t mean that you will feel better instantaneously; it will take time. Furthermore, quitting comes with side effects, and if you aren’t prepared for them, then they can jeopardise your efforts sending you reaching for a cigarette. The effects fall into one of three categories, so let’s get into it.

The Benefits of Quitting

Quitting isn’t easy; most people experience a couple of relapses before quitting for good. However, before getting into the unexpected side effects, which could stop some people from quitting, it is important to note the benefits of quitting. The ingredients within cigarettes can have a profound effect on your bodily function. By quitting, you are lowering your risk of contracting heart disease, cancer or having a stroke. In addition, your life expectancy increases, as does your energy which is important if you have or are planning to have a family. Finally, think about how much money you could save. Smoking is an expensive habit; you are hard-pressed to find a pack of cigarettes for less than £10 today. Depending on the level of your addiction, you could save hundreds or even thousands by quitting.


When you smoke, receptors within the brain become reliant on the nicotine hit that cigarettes give, so these receptors continue to crave it when you quit. These cravings can be intense or even overwhelming at times. When you experience a craving, try to remember why you wanted to quit in the first place and try to wait it out, it will pass.

Nicotine is a stimulant, and so without it, your body experiences feelings of withdrawal. You will likely become irritable while your body adjusts, and you might find yourself reacting to minor inconveniences with more anger than you usually would. After quitting, some people also experience insomnia because they have unconsciously substituted the nicotine for another stimulant like caffeine, or their sleep is disturbed by cravings or dreams of cigarettes.

In addition to a bad mood, you are also more likely to experience feelings of depression and anxiety. This is, again, another common side effect of withdrawal. Do your best to avoid stress where possible. However, if the feelings persist or it becomes difficult to cope with them, then there is no shame in seeking help.

Dealing with the psychological side effects is not necessarily easy. It takes an awful lot of willpower, and going cold turkey invariably makes it worse. So instead, a lot of people opt to use nicotine replacement therapy which allows them to wean themselves off of their nicotine dependency slowly using vapes, patches or gum. You might also want to try stress management or meditation techniques to help you to cope with the anger and irritability.


Ironically, after you quit smoking, you are more likely to develop a cough. This is because your lungs need to work to clear out all of the tar and mucus that has settled in them from smoking. However, the cough should not last that long; if it persists after a couple of weeks, then make an appointment with your GP. One of the more uncommon side effects that people experience when quitting smoking is gastrointestinal issues. This is because smoking also affects your digestive system; while it returns to normal, you may experience constipation or diarrhoea.

Cigarettes also act as an appetite suppressant which is why a lot of models – especially in the 90s – used to be heavy smokers. This is why a lot of people gain weight when they quit smoking. Their appetite returns, and their taste buds improve. Try to avoid replacing one bad habit with another and avoid unhealthy foods; instead, consider choosing healthier snacks to indulge your increased appetite.

As the body detoxes off of the nicotine, you are likely to experience headaches which is again another classic withdrawal symptom. In addition to these headaches, you are also likely to feel a generalised weakness or lethargy. This is because it takes time for your body to adjust to the lack of nicotine.

While your body detoxes, it is important that you are doing your best to look after it. This means trying to eat properly, drink enough water and get enough exercise. Doing so can help to offset some of the side effects. If you eat healthier, then you are unlikely to gain as much weight. Drinking enough water helps to get rid of headaches, and exercising gives you more energy. However, if you believe that your symptoms are worsening or if they are hard to cope with, then you might want to consider speaking to your doctor. They will be able to advise you of the best course of action going forward.


A lot of people forget about the social implications of quitting smoking. Lives are structured around smoking, and so it shouldn’t be difficult to see where the social side comes in. How many smoke breaks do you take a day at work? What happens when you quit, these breaks go away. Smoke breaks are a social experience, and in fact, taking some time away from your work regularly can actually improve your productivity too.

Do your friends smoke? If so, how do you feel about being the only one who isn’t? you cannot smoke indoors in Britain, which means that your friends will undoubtedly have to leave you alone at the pub to go out and smoke, unless you go out with them, but that represents a real test of your will power.

When you quit smoking, you are likely to become irritable; this alone can affect your social life. While you detox from the nicotine, you might stop being your usual fun, happy self for a while. You could end up isolating yourself from your friends, especially if they are smokers, because it might be too difficult or tempting for you. They might also steer clear of you for a while to avoid your bad mood.

There is not much that you can do to avoid the social side effects of quitting smoking. To start with, you should warn your friends and family of your intention to quit and what this might mean for your mood. This should help you to avoid causing any offence. Choosing to use nicotine replacement therapy techniques, specifically vaping, can also help. It allows you to continue to receive your nicotine, and you don’t have to feel as though you are missing out on anything.

Wrapping Up

Addictions are notoriously difficult to beat. No one chooses to become addicted; it is something that simply happens. However, you can choose to address your addiction to try and beat it. It won’t be easy, as evidenced by the list of side effects above. However, now that you have armed yourself with the information, you can put a plan in place to help you to cope with these side effects. Above all, you need to remind yourself that it is temporary; these side effects won’t last forever, you can get through it.

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