Does Quitting Smoking Cause Anger Issues?
Quitting smoking is a trying process even for the most determined, most willful smoker. It’s generally a stressful time for your body, as it tries to deal with the sudden loss of the nicotine it’s been used to for years. Within a few days or even a few hours after your last cigarette, you’ll feel the onset of nicotine withdrawal, which causes cravings that are incredibly difficult to resist.
Nicotine withdrawal also brings with it a host of negative emotions, such as frustration, anxiety, or even anger. When you’re quitting smoking, you may find that you’re more easily given to feeling anger. This might seem completely out of character for you, but ex-smokers say that it’s part and parcel of the quitting process.
The unusually intense anger or frustration you feel in the weeks after you quit smoking may cause some inner conflict, so it’s important for you to know how to properly deal with this emotion. You might also want to seek the understanding and support of your loved ones as you go through this difficult time, as they might not know how to deal with your sudden outbursts of anger.
Nicotine withdrawal and its effects on your anger levels
You basically have two choices when you’re faced with a frustrating or stressful situation as you’re trying to quit smoking. The first, much healthier choice is to resolve the conflict or get rid of the situation entirely so your anger levels will go down. The second choice is far more passive: you can simply let time pass until your anger levels decrease all by themselves.
Unfortunately, people going through nicotine withdrawal often can’t rationalize their anger like other people can. The smoker’s coping abilities are compromised because of stress, and what’s worse is that he or she doesn’t even realize the said changes in his or her mental or emotional well being. This seems to add to the frustration, which only makes a person more prone to relapse.
Smoking as a coping mechanism for anger or stress
Quitting smoking is a particularly difficult process for people who use smoking as a means to relieve stress or anger.
Stress usually affects smokers’ bodies in a different way compared to those of non-smokers. When a smoker’s urine is acidified as a result of stress, the acidifiers pull nicotine into the bladder. This puts the brain on high alert, as it realizes that it no longer has the nicotine it’s come to depend on. As a result, you get the intense nicotine cravings associated with nicotine withdrawal. You start getting stressed and your anger levels rise as you strive to avoid smoking even as your body is practically begging for a cigarette.
So what happens when you’re assaulted with these cravings and the only way you relieve stress or anger is having a cigarette or two? Before you know it, you may find yourself relapsing, puffing on a cigarette again just to calm yourself down.
If you do end up relapsing, all is not lost. Just make sure you don’t consume any more nicotine for the next 72 hours. Once you’ve become nicotine-free for at least 72 hours, your body metabolizes nicotine and gets rid of its nicotine stores through sweat, urine, or feces. While this doesn’t cause nicotine withdrawal, ex-smokers say that this method didn’t do much in diminishing their desire to smoke cigarettes when their anger or stress levels rise again. Thus a vicious cycle begins.
Properly dealing with anger as you try to quit smoking
It’s completely normal to be more prone to anger during the process of quitting smoking. What you need to learn, though, is how to properly cope with anger-causing or stressful situations so you don’t fall back on smoking just to calm down.
One healthy way to deal with anger is to communicate and face the problem head-on instead of skirting the real issue and distracting yourself with a cigarette. Try to reflect on the cause of your anger and seek ways on how to totally eliminate this cause, whether by yourself or with the help of your loved ones. You can even seek professional help; there are many medical professionals and addiction specialists you can turn to if you need help with dealing with intense emotions.
Be firm with yourself and refuse to accept the notion that the only way for you to lower your anger levels is to have a cigarette. This is an unhealthy coping mechanism, which may be the result of your brain playing to your nicotine addiction. Remember, the stress relief brought by cigarettes lasts a few minutes, at most. If you choose to go this route, you’ll never be able to break free of smoking and nicotine addiction.
Does Quitting Smoking Cause Anger Issues?