Q. I am scared that smoking a lot has resulted in tingling hands and legs. Please help.

Answered by
Dr. Ashok Kumar Choudhary
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sushrutha Muralidharan
This is a premium question & answer published on Aug 13, 2021

Hello doctor,

I am very scared at the moment and looking for someone who may understand best what I am going through. I have been sober for a week now, after having gone through a pretty intense binge for ten days. This landed me in the hospital. I went to a mental health facility for six days and had no symptoms other than the usual detoxing. I had been sober for ten years before this year, in which I have had a few scary, intense benders. I am committed to my sobriety today but am scared as yesterday I started to develop some numbness in my pinky finger which has now turned into the pins and needles feeling on my hand and also my legs and back. I went to the ER today, and my bloodwork was normal. I have been taking Vitamin supplements and doing my best to stay healthy and, of course, not drinking. I have, however, been smoking a lot of cigarettes in the last 48 hours since being discharged. Not sure if what I am feeling is just anxiety or neuropathy. Again, I did not feel this until six days after stopping drinking. I was scared to death that this will not go away, which is only exacerbating the tingling in my body and smoking more. Any advice, hope, or insight would be much appreciated. I am taking Clonidine and Sertraline. Kindly help me.



Welcome to

I read your query and understand your concerns. However, it is impossible for me to conclusively establish whether it is neuropathy or anxiety, but the available description suggests anxiety. My opinion is based on the facts such as:

1) Peripheral neuropathy develops slowly and progresses over the years, but the anxiety is sudden in onset, and there is fluctuating course.

2) Neuropathy often develops after years of continuous alcohol intake, which is not present in your case.

3) Neuropathy is rare to get onset during withdrawal from alcohol.

4) Pins and needle sensation, as well as numbness, is common for anxiety as well as Vitamin B12 deficiency.

5) Cigarette smoking is known to exacerbate anxiety, and increased smoking indicates the possibility of predisposing anxiety-associated symptoms.

6) Increased tingling and pin sensation after stress again indicates a significant contribution of anxiety.

I hope this was helpful. Please get back if you have further doubts.

Thank you doctor,

This alleviates my concerns. I know that I am lucky to be alive with these binge episodes. They are so significant. I stopped smoking for six days. After getting out of treatment, I am wondering whether numbness in my pinky finger could be associated with this. It seems to have dissipated. Now I am dealing with pins and needles feeling.



Welcome back to

Thanks for the follow-up. I like to inform you that the sudden disappearance of numbness again indicates the possibility of anxiety as a cause rather than neuropathy. Similarly, sudden cessation of nicotine (tobacco) also causes nervousness and anxiety. It can be the cause for numbness in extremities. I hope this helps you further. If you have more questions feel free to write back to me. I will be glad to assist you further. Thanks again.

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