Managing withdrawal

Withdrawal is your body’s response to not having nicotine in its system. Understanding what to expect during withdrawal can help you. This is a difficult time for many smokers. Keep in mind it is temporary and get prepared.

Let's make it personal. Do you want to save your choices or add your own? It is easy and free.

How will you manage withdrawal?

  • Cravings can often be strong, especially in the first few days after you quit. However, it is important to remember that cravings are short, lasting only 3-5 minutes. Find ways to distract yourself until the craving passes. Go for a walk, drink some water, or eat a sugarless candy. Cravings will reduce in intensity and frequency with time.
  • Anxiety is a normal part of withdrawal. It usually passes within two weeks as your body adjusts to functioning without nicotine. Deep breathing or relaxation exercises, or going for a walk can help. Coffee is more potent after quitting, so your usual amount of coffee can make you feel anxious. Try drinking less.
  • Warn your friends and family that you might be a little out of sorts. Being irritable is a normal part of nicotine withdrawal. It can last for 1-2 weeks and may be more intense for those who were heavier smokers. Try going for a walk, breathing or relaxation techniques, or doing something you find relaxing or enjoyable like watching a movie, or working on a favorite hobby.
  • 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. Give yourself time for more rest, try exercise or a cool shower to bring your energy up. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water too.
  • Difficulty concentrating is very common in the first 2 weeks. You may start feeling foggy headed or have difficulty focusing. Nicotine increases your body’s release of stored sugars and fats, which helped you stay alert. 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 instead of three big meals, and don’t skip meals. This will help maintain your blood sugar levels.
  • It is normal to have feelings of sadness, depression, or confusion after your quit. Quitting is a big change physically and emotionally. Talking to a friend, family member or posting to the forum can help. Plan an enjoyable activity with a friend and reward yourself for your progress. Exercise can also help lift your mood. Remind yourself of your reasons for quitting and the benefits. If depression lasts for more than a month, consult your doctor.
  • Is everyone and everything driving you nuts? Feelings of anger, frustration, or even fearfulness are typical after you quit especially within the first few days. Let people know what to expect. Accept the emotions instead of repressing them. Vent your feelings safely, talk with a friend about them, or work through the situation.
  • Increased appetite is common and can last for several weeks after your quit. Instead of eating more, eat smaller amounts more often and choose healthy snacks such as vegetable sticks. Try going for a walk, sipping water, or chewing sugarless gum.
  • Digestive issues such as constipation can happen in the first few weeks after your quit. It takes your body some time to adjust to not having nicotine. Anxiety and depressed mood can also cause stomach pain or digestive problems. Try increasing fiber in your diet, drink plenty of water, reduce your caffeine intake and try some moderate exercise.
  • You may have some difficulty sleeping after your quit. Withdrawal from nicotine can interfere with sleep for a few weeks as your body adjusts. Try relaxation exercises before bed. Caffeine is more potent for non-smokers, so if you are drinking your usual pre-quit amount, try reducing caffeine to see if this helps. On the bright side non-smokers do not need as much sleep as their smoking counterparts so soon you may feel more rested with less sleep.