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Thursday, February 02, 2017

All your bad habits, we mean! Jagruti Verma tells you what your body goes through when you’re trying to let go of an addiction

Just like breaking a bad habit, getting rid of an addiction is really hard to do. You’ll know what we mean if you’ve ever tried to give up smoking or drinking, or any other bad habit. And, it’s very easy to fall off the wagon. Dopamine, the feel good hormone, can be your downfall here, since it keeps you going back to things that make you feel good, increasing your dependence on these substances or habits. What makes giving up even harder to do is if you don’t know what to expect. Here are a few things your body goes through when you give up addictive substances so that you can prepare yourself.

  •  You will think about it more than usual: Even something that seems like a minor addiction can become a major issue if you go cold turkey. You will find yourself thinking about it more than usual and craving for a release. You’ll also be more susceptible to the slightest triggers, both internal and external. Stay strong. Once you decide to give up, stick to your resolution.
  •  Physical symptoms: Being addicted to anything is bad for you, but your body doesn’t know that. You feel better when you’re under its influence. And, when you’re trying to give it up, your body will rebel because it’s about to lose the substance that makes it feel good. Symptoms can range from the mild to the violent, so be prepared.
  •  It’s all in the mind: The release of dopamine not only makes you feel good when you consume an addictive substance, it also changes the neural pathways in your brain, which leads to the cravings. This is why some addictive substances are habit-forming. They cause you to seek out more to feel good.
  •  Pick alternatives, not helplessness: When you’re trying to give up an addictive substance, sometimes you can feel helpless. It’s as if the substance has some hold over you. But, this is indeed just a feeling. You don’t have to feel like you’re a slave to your cravings. A good way to deal with this is to pick alternative habits, such as chewing gum. However, make sure that you don’t pick up other bad habits to substitute for the one you’re trying to kick. Try incorporating healthy habits into your routine. Go for a run, start eating healthy or take up a hobby to keep yourself occupied.
  •  Old cravings are replaced by new ones: Your body is so used to the addictive substance that it will crave it in a particular amount. Don’t let the cravings take over.

We asked Dr. Niraj Ravani, psychiatrist at Fortis Hiranandani in Vashi, to tell us more about the specific changes that our bodies go through when we’re trying to give up on a specific substance. He explains, “It depends on the drug in question, because every drug has its own withdrawal symptoms.” He gives us the lowdown on some of the most common ones, so you can see why it’s better to avoid temptation or give them up immediately before they become a problem. This will also help you to recognise the withdrawal symptoms and see whether you need help while you attempt to do so.

Physical symptoms: Insomnia, tremors, confused behaviour, irrelevant rambling, sweating, convulsions and fever.
Psychological symptoms: The cravings and withdrawal can lead to irritability and instances of violence.

Recreational drugs
Physical symptoms: Withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, reduced appetite, nausea, vomiting and mild body aches.
Psychological symptoms: Cravings.

Narcotic drugs
Physical symptoms: Body aches, insomnia, loose motions, runny nose, watery eyes and instances of self harm.
Psychological symptoms: Irritability and intense cravings.

Stimulant drugs
Physical symptoms: Insomnia, sweating, palpitations, nausea, vomiting, raised blood pressure, fever and chills
Psychological symptoms: Intense cravings.

Physical symptoms: Headaches, nausea, constipation, fatigue and some insomnia.
Psychological symptoms: Reduced concentration levels, anxiety, depression, cravings and irritability.

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