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 the worst symptoms are usually 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
Anxiety or Nervousness
Anxiety is a normal part of withdrawal. It usually passes within 2 weeks as your body adjusts to functioning without nicotine. 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, so try drinking fewer caffeinated beverages, e.g. coffee, pop, caffeinated teas.
Digestive issues such as constipation are normal in the first few weeks after you quit. Try increasing fibre in your diet, drinking plenty of water, reducing your caffeine intake and try getting some exercise.
It is normal to have feelings of sadness or depression after you quit. Quitting smoking is a big change, physically and emotionally. 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, spending some of your savings, or getting some exercise. If depression lasts for more than a month or you experience extreme sadness, consider talking 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. Your body will soon adjust, but in the meantime maintain your blood sugar levels by eating small amounts of food every few hours instead of three big meals.
Nicotine is a stimulant, so you might feel more tired when you quit. It can take 2-4 weeks for your energy levels to get back to normal as your body adjusts. In the meantime, try getting more rest, exercising and drinking lots of water.
Nicotine withdrawal can interfere with sleep for a few weeks as your body adjusts. Try relaxation exercises before bed and reducing your caffeine intake during the day. On the bright side, non-smokers do not need as much sleep as their smoking counterparts. Soon you may feel more rested with less sleep.
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. For tips on getting through cravings, learn about the 4Ds here.