Nicotine is what makes tobacco and vaping products addictive. When you quit, your body has to adjust to being without nicotine.
Withdrawal symptoms can last several weeks but are usually worst during the first few days of your quit. You are most at risk of a slip during this time, so try some of the tips below to help you get through it.
While withdrawal can be quite uncomfortable, there are things you can do to make it less intense. One of the best ways to manage withdrawal is to use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or prescription medications. These can significantly reduce withdrawal symptoms and increase your chances of quitting for good.
Read below for more tips on handling withdrawal symptoms.
Common Withdrawal Symptoms and Coping Strategies
Increased appetite is common and can last for several weeks after your quit. Your body might be confusing nicotine cravings for food cravings.
- Strategy: Instead of eating more, eat smaller amounts more frequently, and choose healthy snacks such as carrot sticks.
Digestive issues such as constipation are normal in the first few weeks after you quit.
- Strategy: try eating more fibre, drinking water, reducing caffeine, and moving your body.
Anxiety or Nervousness
Anxiety is a normal part of withdrawal. It usually passes within 2 weeks as your body adjusts to functioning without nicotine.
- Strategy: deep breathing, relaxation exercises, or going for a walk can help.
Caffeine is more potent after quitting smoking, and can be related to anxiety and nervousness.
- Strategy: try drinking fewer caffeinated beverages, e.g. coffee, pop, caffeinated teas.
It is normal to have feelings of sadness or depression after you quit. Quitting smoking is a big change, physically and emotionally.
- Strategy: Get support by reaching out to a friend, family member, Quit Coach, or the QuitNow Community Forum. You may also lift your mood by planning something fun with a friend or getting some exercise.
If depression lasts for more than a month, or you experience extreme sadness, talk to your health care provider.
Nicotine is a stimulant- it increases your body’s release of stored sugars and fats, which helps you stay alert. When you quit, you may feel foggy or have difficulty focusing.
- Strategy: while your body adjusts, maintain your blood sugar levels by eating small amounts of food every few hours instead of three big meals.
Nicotine makes you feel more alert, so you might feel more tired when you quit. It can take 2-4 weeks for your energy levels to get back to normal.
- Strategy: in the meantime, try getting more rest, exercising, and drinking lots of water.
You may find it harder to sleep as your body adjusts to being nicotine-free.
- Strategy: try relaxation exercises before bed and reducing your caffeine intake during the day. Soon you may feel more rested with less sleep.
Feelings of anger, frustration, and irritability are common after quitting nicotine, especially within the first few days. Try to remember that these feelings are temporary. Use relaxation techniques like mindfulness and deep breathing to help you get through them.
You can always talk to one of our Quit Coaches for extra support.