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Pandora's avatar

Do people who quit smoking become angry because of nicotine withdrawl, or where they always angry only ciggarettes helped them put a lid on it?

Asked by Pandora (23216 points ) November 12th, 2010

As some of you know, I have quit smoking. This is week 3 and so far so good.
I have stopped yearning every 5 seconds and I’ve actually been pretty good at not being cranky or anything like that.
But I’ve feel I’ve discovered something. Yesterday I got pretty irrate at the fact that I had a postal money order that I couldn’t cash anywhere.
And depositing it in my bank was out of the question because it was clear across town and the PO. was close. Its not that I needed the money then and there, I was just irrate that no one would cash it, even in exchange for goods.
I had proper ID and so on. Anyhow. I was so pissed off that I wanted a ciggarette so bad. Some of them I felt where straight up lying because they simply didn’t want to go through the trouble of dealing with the check.
Anyhow, I had a really hard time dealing with my discust with the vendors. In the past I would’ve simply had a ciggarette and move on with little to no stress over something so trivial.
Only this time I didn’t have a ciggarette to stuff down my discust.
I realize that I often would take aggrevation and just puff it away on a ciggarette and put it behind me. That was how I choked down stress.

So it got me wondering. Is it that smokers never really learn to cope with stress that makes it seem that they get cranky all of a sudden over little issues?
Curious to hear from smokers and former smokers.

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20 Answers

filmfann's avatar

My daughter’s nerves are always ajangle when she tries to quit smoking. It’s because of the withdrawl, not her normal character.

Megan64's avatar

As a former smoker, I think it’s a little of both. The hardest part of quitting smoking is learning how to do things without cigarettes: Waiting for the bus; having a cup of coffee; dealing with jerks; etc. A clue was when you got angry, it made you want one. I’m sure you learned how to cope with stress before you started smoking. Smoking just provided you with a short cut. Hang in there! I have about 15 years without smoking, and I smoked for 14.

john65pennington's avatar

My doctor has told me that smoking cigarettes is a stronger addiction than a morphine habit. so, this should give you some idea of what you are facing.

First, good for you for your success, so far. to stop smoking is a challenge beyond belief, especially in todays world of constant anxiety. i believe a vast majority of people, who do not smoke, are hooked onto some other form of medication. society has made us this way.

Yes, you will have your moments of being discussed at the world. learning how to deal with it, is up to each individual.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

I remember those days well. I quit in 1980, and there wasn’t no stinking nicotine gum, there weren’t no stinking nicotine patches; there wasn’t anything but cold turkey and living hell. I can say without equivocation the irritability is induced by nicotine withdrawal. On my second day without a cigarette, I almost tore out of my office to scream at a woman out in the hall because I didn’t like the sound her high heels made.

It took about 3 months for the physical effects of nicotine withdrawal to subside, but I was over the worst of it – the almost uncontrollable craving – in only 3 days. The intensity of the physical response was, ironically, the strongest factor motivating me to stick with it. I still get pretty irritable at times, but it’s very mild compared to what I went through in those first few days after I stubbed out the last butt.

downtide's avatar

I didn’t get angry at all when I quit. I think smoking keeps a lid on it for angry people.

johanna's avatar

Read Allen Cars ‘The easy way to quit smoking’!

It is an excellent help to quit smoking. After 15 years of smoking I decided to quit, read this book and I have never smoked again. It has now been 7 years.

The book explains the science behind cigarette addiction and is an excellent tool for preparing to quit and how to quit.

I normally abhor self help books and never read them but this one is great. Remember though – in order to quit for good – you must WANT to quit. If you really do not want to quit deep down inside, no book in the world will work.

On, and as to your question, the book also talks about the emotions, like anger, that arise when quiting: why you get these feelings and how to cope.

Blackberry's avatar

Withdrawal. The attitude of a douchey addict isn’t a natural personality trait lol.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I was a bit pissy when I quit.ok,maybe alittle wild but I got over it and rage only when necessary ;)

marinelife's avatar

My husband used to smoke, and he said it was definitely an anxiety reliever.

Cruiser's avatar

I look back and could see how lighting up was a coping mechanism. When I quit and things pile up on me, I just went back to what I used to do and curl up in a ball and suck my thumb!

misstrikcy's avatar

I’m a smoker and have had a few ‘failed’ attempts to quit.

My thinking is, that when you’re a smoker, you tend to spark a fag in times of stress. And if you’ve smoked for a long time this becomes a habit..
So now that you’ve given up, and have come across a stressful situation. Your subconscious mind is automatically telling you to light a fag (for instant gratification).
It’s just a habit probably. If you stick with it i’m sure you’ll learn other ways of coping with stressful situations. You’re just not used to it yet.

partyparty's avatar

I think angry people are angry people, whether smoking or not.
But smoking is certainly a comfort mechanism. The norm would be to smoke when feeling stressed.
I tried eating one of my favourite chocolates in place of cigarettes and that really worked for me.
BTW you should pat yourself on the back for quitting. Well done :)

JLeslie's avatar

Withdrawal. Never fun, because the drug actually keeps you at your normal, rather than some sort of hi, so without the drug, initially you are not normal so to speak.

Also, smoking is a coping mechanism, so when aggravated the long term smoker doesn’t have their usual way to calm or comfort themelves, so little things are more likely to bring on a short temper.

Jaxk's avatar

Being a lifetime smoker, I understand the problem. I have quit several times with limited success. The longest I went was 5 years. I had another spurt of 8 months and another of 4 months. Several of shorter durations. The longer you’ve smoked the harder it is. I had a friend that commented, during one of my attempts, that I was surly. I thought that was an appropriate term.

Smoking is both a physical addition and a psychological addiction. The physical addition only lasts a few days. The psychological much longer. It’s not so much that the smoke calms you down as it is that the act of smoking gives you something to do with your hands. A bit of a distraction that allows you to get past whatever is making you irritable. That’s why chewing gum or those fake cigarettes work, they’re a distraction. They give you a moment to recompose. Be wary of eating as a substitute. Smoking speeds you metabolism and when you quit your metabolism slows so gaining weight is easier.

One last comment. Quitting is a life long pursuit. When I quit for 5 years, I tried one cigarette and within a week, I was back to a pack a day. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you can have one. It will set you back a long ways.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Each time I’ve quit then I notice I’m pretty irritable for the first month but mostly because my head feels like when I have a sinus infection. Caffiene helps offset the nicotine withdrawel but only so much.

YARNLADY's avatar

I wonder if it is the loss of the addiction? I have seen the same reaction when gambling or computer addicts quit. The change required in their lives is probably very difficult.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY I think they are coping mechanisms. While their brains are focused on the next bet, or who is responding to their facebook status, they are not focused on their worries. Drugs, even nicotine, has the added physical addiction. Although, it can be argued even things like gambling are physical addictions, because of the chemicals released in the brain when the person wins, or even the anticipation of winning.

BarnacleBill's avatar

During WWII, additives were put in cigarettes to have a calming effect on smokers. The US army and the tobacco companies “conspired” to do this to so that young men, 18 – 20 years old, half way around the world, would be able to get a grip on it and go into battle. Cigarettes were cheap at the PX and free at the frontlines because of this. As a result, a whole generation came back from the war addicted to cigarettes.

Some of the chemicals that are put into cigarettes do have a calming effect. At week 3, some of what you are feeling is the contrast from being cigarette free. Having the nicotine and additives out of your system is a marked change. Has your sense of smell come back yet? At four weeks, many people are amazed at their heightened sense of smell.

Keep up the good work, and congratulations on week 3!

Pandora's avatar

@BarnacleBill I pray you are wrong about a heighten sense of smell since I can already smell more things than most people and not all of them are awesome. Especially when my dog lets one go. Ewwwee. Some smells give me a gag reflex as it is. Just doing laundry and using bleach has always made me want to puke.
A few months back I was the only one who kept smelling something funky in my home. No one else knew what I was talking about. Till I discovered it was the entrance throw rug. Once I threw it out, the smell went with it.
Actually realized why I was grumpy yesterday. (coughs… PMS) Usually when I know its approaching I keep it in mind to be on the look out for grumpy behavior. Only I haven’t had a normal patter for over 8 months now. Getting to that time of life. :(

Seelix's avatar

People become irritable when their bodies are denied something that it need (or thinks it needs). Have you ever become cranky just because you’re tired? or hungry?
Same idea. Even the cheeriest, most even-tempered people can get a little antsy in situations like this.

I’m a smoker, and I have to say that I’m not able to smoke every time I find myself in a stressful or annoying situation. So I’ve had to learn to cope with those feelings.
Sure, a cigarette can help sometimes. But I think it’s not just the nicotine that does it – in fact, it’s a stimulant, not a sedative. I think a big part of it is the concept of taking 5 minutes to remove yourself from the situation and think about it (or rant and vent about it to your smoker buddy who’s outside with you).

I’m not saying that nicotine doesn’t affect one’s body. I just mean to say that a human, denied anything, is likely to get irritable.

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