Managing Withdrawal

Nicotine withdrawal is different for every smoker. Every smoker feels different during withdrawal.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Having cravings for cigarettes
  • Feeling down or sad
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Feeling irritable‚ on edge‚ or grouchy
  • Having trouble thinking clearly and concentrating
  • Feeling restless and jumpy
  • Having a slower heart rate
  • Feeling more hungry or gaining weight

You may have tough days and easy days with these symptoms. Over time, the symptoms and cravings will fade as long as you stay smokefree. Medications and changing the things you do can help you manage withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine Cravings

For many smokers, cravings for a cigarette last much longer than other symptoms of withdrawal. Many people are surprised when cravings sometimes happen without warning. Cravings can be set off by reminders of smoking. These reminders are often called triggers. People, places, and things can trigger a craving. This means it's important to have a plan for how you'll handle a craving when it hits.

The good news is that every craving will pass if you give it time and keep yourself busy. Finding ways to get through that period of time is a key way to deal with cravings. Anything that can distract you and keep you busy can be helpful. Getting active also can work. A short walk can help you distract yourself until the craving passes. Most smokers who try nicotine replacement therapy find it helpful for getting through withdrawal and managing cravings.   

Nicotine Withdrawal Isn’t Dangerous

Withdrawal can be uncomfortable and some people may feel high levels of symptoms. But there is no health danger from nicotine withdrawal. In fact‚ quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health. Even extreme withdrawal symptoms will fade over time.

Some people feel increased sadness after they quit smoking. Watch for this, especially if you’ve ever had depression. Take a quick quiz to find out if you have signs of depression. If you become depressed or are having extreme sadness, let a friend or family member know, and think about talking to your doctor.