Managing withdrawal

Nicotine withdrawal is different for everyone, but understanding common symptoms and what to expect can help you prepare to avoid slips and stay smoke-free. One way to prepare is to use NRT or quit smoking medications, as these products can significantly reduce withdrawal and cravings.

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How will you manage withdrawal?

  • Remember that cravings last only about 3 to 5 minutes, so find ways to distract yourself until the craving passes. Go for a walk, drink some water or text a friend for support. Use NRT like the gum or patches to reduce the frequency and intensity.
  • This is a common symptom that usually passes within the first two weeks of your quit as your body adjusts to life without nicotine. Try deep breathing or relaxation exercises or go for a walk. Try drinking less coffee as it’s more potent after quitting and can make you feel anxious.
  • This is normal during the first few weeks of your quit. Warn your friends and family that you might be a bit grumpy for a while. Try doing things you enjoy, like going to a movie or working on a favourite hobby.
  • Withdrawal from nicotine can interfere with sleep for a few weeks as your body adjusts. Try relaxation exercises before bed. Nicotine is a stimulant, so when it’s gone, you will likely feel more tired. It can take 2-4 weeks for your energy levels to go back to normal as your body adjusts, so try to rest more and do exercise to raise your energy level.
  • You may feel foggy or have difficulty focusing for the first 2 weeks of your quit. Nicotine increases your body’s release of stored sugars and fats, which helped you stay alert, but your ability to focus will go back to normal as your body adjusts. To help stay focused, eat small amounts of food every few hours to maintain your blood sugar levels. Try some yoga, as it can increase oxygen to the brain.
  • It is normal to have feelings of sadness or depression after you quit. Try talking to a friend, family member or seeking support from our community forum. Exercise can also help lift your mood as well. If depression lasts for more than a month, consult your doctor.
  • Increased appetite is common after your quit. Instead of eating more, eat smaller amounts more often. Choose healthy snacks such as vegetable sticks, go for more walks, and drink more water.
  • Constipation and digestive issues are common in the first few weeks of your quit. Try increasing fiber in your diet, drink plenty of water, reduce your caffeine intake and try some moderate exercise.