Withdrawal Symptoms

Smoking is an addiction—your body depends on nicotine, a drug in cigarettes.

When you stop smoking, your body reacts to the fact that the nicotine is gone. This is called withdrawal, and it can make you feel sick or nervous. These feelings are strongest for the first three or four weeks after you quit.

Cravings are a common withdrawal symptom. A craving is the feeling that you need a cigarette. Most cravings last for just a few minutes. Practice the Four Ds to handle cravings. Each time you get through a craving, you will feel stronger.

Talk to your doctor about medicine to help you with withdrawal symptoms. Get the medicine before your quit date and learn how to use it the right way.

Be prepared for these common symptoms when you quit:

Coughing will last only a few days. Your body is clearing out mucous left over from smoking. Use cough drops, hard candies, and drink water and juice to help.

Headaches or feeling lightheaded can occur for a week or so because you are getting more oxygen in your body.

Tiredness, trouble sleeping, and lack of focus can last for two to four weeks as your body adjusts to not smoking. Try exercise, hot showers, less caffeine, and taking time to relax.

Feeling irritable and emotional can be caused by your body’s craving for nicotine. Talk to a friend or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to talk with a quit coach. Cutting down on caffeine can help too.

Stomach pain, gas, and constipation are rare, but can happen. Your digestion slows down a bit while your body adjusts to the lack of nicotine. Drink water and make sure to exercise. Eat fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. This should go away in one to two weeks.