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Covid-19 Lockdown: How to Handle Withdrawal Symptoms of Smoking and Drinking

Learn how to handle withdrawal symptoms of smoking and drinking. Read our latest blog, now.

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Irritability may be high due to withdrawal symptoms but there’s a silver lining…

When the coronavirus lockdown became a common move countries adopted the world over with social-distancing measures, it brought its unique set of problems. As people began to stock up on essentials during lockdown, the sudden closure of liquor shops and the unavailability of cigarettes has added to the stress of those addicted to smoking and drinking. India witnessed a suicide case (Kerala) wherein there has been a loss of life due to withdrawal symptoms of smoking and drinking.

What are these Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal symptoms of smokers and drinkers include physical and emotional problems that give them plenty of discomforts.
Cigarettes include the drug named nicotine which is the chief ingredient in tobacco. This makes the habit of smoking highly addictive. For those experiencing high levels of stress, smokers get a quick mood boost as it produces a sense of happiness albeit for a short time. Similarly, those addicted to alcohol experience a slow down of their system. The dependency on alcohol increases as it lends a boost in the mood while relaxing the body and thereby reducing stress. The result? A need for this ‘repeated remedy’.

Smoking and drinking are also an important part of the culture - the quick smoke with friends, a couple of drinks at social interactions, and time spent unwinding in a local bar. Abnormal use of cigarettes and alcohol creates long-term health issues for addicts.

What happens during the coronavirus lockdown? What happens when these items do not belong to the category of ‘essential goods'? What happens when you suddenly stop drinking alcohol and quit smoking?

Addicts experience withdrawal symptoms.

These withdrawal symptoms may range from mild to strong among smokers and drinkers. The symptoms also occur when a person voluntarily plans a detoxification process for their addiction.

Alcohol and Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms

What happens to the mind:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Difficulty in focus
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea

What happens to the body:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Food cravings
  • Heavy sweating
  • Shaking of hands
  • Insomnia

The above is an indicative list and there may be more symptoms one may face apart from those in the list. It is best to consult a professional for further advice.

Smokers and drinkers may also face heavier symptoms such as suicidal thoughts, vomiting, and more which differs from person to person. While there are medicines available for this condition, there are many other ways an addict can improve their life.

How to Handle Withdrawal Symptoms of Smoking and Drinking

Apart from medical advice, there is more one can do to move away from this space of dependency to one of freedom. The effects of quitting alcohol and smoking may seem tough to begin with, but all is not lost.

1. Relaxation Techniques

Stress is touted to be one of the prime reasons for addiction. By practicing relaxation techniques, you can work on improving your mental strength to face tough situations. Relaxation activities slow down the fast-pace of life, giving you time to focus inwards. The lockdown period is a great time to seat yourself into a meditative posture. If you are finding your stress levels high, breathe in for a count of 4, hold for 2, and release for 6. Practice this for 5 minutes every time you feel stressed out. You can also opt for painting (doodling), reading, listening to calm music, motivational podcasts, and more.
Avoid meditation immediately post food.

2. Begin a Journal

Writing down your feelings is a great practice to bring yourself closer to who you truly are. Write down your addiction issues. Begin with your problem-areas and work on finding solutions to these problems (solutions that do not include drinking or smoking.)
Why are you stressed? What is the cause behind it?
What can you do to make your life better?
Has addiction helped you in any way?
If not, what are the habits you can adopt to improve your life?

Think over these questions every time you feel the urge to smoke or drink.

3. Alter your Habits

Smokers and alcohol addicts repeat their patterns of behavior due to the habits that surround it. Now that you are working from home, you no longer have to take the extra coffee breaks or need to socialize even when stressed. Travel in traffic does not exist. So, how can you alter your current habits to suit the new situation? Build new habits. Try reducing your cups of coffee/tea, monitor your sugar intake, have your meals on time. Add an exercise routine, create space to upgrade your skills, munch on healthy food every time you feel the urge to chew, smoke, or sip alcohol. Have enough water when you feel the symptoms return. Resist the urge to recreate situations that make you want to smoke or drink.

4. Work out a Weekly Plan

The chances of setting goals are that you’ll be mindful of working towards them. Prepare a chart for the week. Place it in an area that you frequently visit. Create a visual board of your aspirations. Remind yourself why you are here, what is your purpose. Devise a plan that includes a balanced approach towards work, household duties, and free time for self-care. A self-care routine should be one that adds value to life.

5. Build a Strong Support System

A better way to deal with withdrawal symptoms of smoking and drinking is to have a strong support system in place. Work to create a space that has people who believe in you. Ensure you allow them to track your progress. A support system is desirable particularly during a time of social isolation.
However, not every friend, family member, or well-wisher offers a non-judgmental approach to listening. In this case, talking with a counselor or a coaching professional who builds mental strength is desirable to move past the withdrawal phase in no time. This eases the mental stress, while you learn new ways to build your life with a renewed focus. You find techniques to continue an addiction-free life even post the lockdown period.

Tava-Mitram is a not-for-profit aimed at strengthening your mental health.
While there are medicines available for withdrawal symptoms of smoking and drinking there is a need to improve mental health to display a determination to move past this phase. You can also look at this phase as the best way to quit drinking and smoking. If you think you have no one to connect with, please contact us by filling in the form or call us on +91-9055565758. We, at Tava-Mitram, are a not-for-profit aimed at building your emotional strength.

(We do not offer medical advice. We offer sound strategies to build your mental health through group coaching methods to ease the withdrawal symptoms of smoking and drinking. All interactions are confidential.)

As people are waiting for the Covid-19 lockdown phase to end, you can choose to embrace a new path.

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