When you stop smoking, you may experience symptoms of nicotine
withdrawal. Your body is accustomed to regular, high doses of nicotine.
It sends out distress signals when those levels of nicotine aren't
present. Use of medications will markedly reduce withdrawal. Even so,
it's important to know how to manage withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms are usually the most intense during the first 3 to 7
days after you stop smoking. But they may continue for several weeks,
although at a declining level of intensity. You may experience
unexpected changes in these levels during the first 3 months. Although
most nicotine withdrawal symptoms pass within 4 weeks, you may
experience periodic cravings, or strong urges to smoke, even months
after stopping. Triggers or cues that were associated with smoking can
provoke the cravings.
Most people who try to stop smoking experience a range of withdrawal
signs and symptoms. Here are some of the more common ones and things you
can do to deal with them:
Physical discomfort or depression
Reduce or avoid
caffeine or other stimulants.
before going to bed.
eat, watch television or discuss problems in bed.
your bedroom quiet and comfortable.
Keep a regular
Write down your
worries on a piece of paper and leave them in another room.
Irritability, frustration, anger
Reduce caffeine or
Reduce caffeine or
Talk to a support
schedule to a lighter workload.
on the amount of work you can do.
amount of energy and time it takes to stop smoking.
exercise breaks. This not only takes you away from the situation,
but helps relieve withdrawal symptoms.
Avoid caffeine or
Change focus of
Cravings for tobacco, desire to smoke
Change in bowel habits, such as constipation
Maintain diet of
Limit gum chewing.
Cough, dry throat, nasal drip, clearing throat
Many smokers yearn to stop but find it hard because of nicotine's
powerful addictive hold. You may need more than one attempt before you
Maybe you want to stop smoking but don't feel ready to stop right now.
Many smokers experience similar feelings. Although they want to stop,
most also have reasons to put off taking action. The good news is, most
smokers eventually do stop. But how can you build the motivation to make
the change now?
Start by addressing the mixed feelings you may have about smoking.
Identify the reasons why you'd like to continue and the reasons why
you'd like to stop. Make a list of your barriers and benefits to making
a change. Continue to update the list as you think of more reasons.
These barriers are real for you and may make you hesitant to change your
smoking behavior. But by identifying barriers before you try to stop
smoking, you can:
of ways to overcome these barriers.
You may even decide that some barriers are not as big as you had
originally thought. You may be able to control weight gain with just
a little extra exercise.
working on overcoming certain barriers.
For example, if you're concerned about a lack of social support,
talk to a friend who used to smoke or a health care professional. If
you're worried about the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms, consider
the use of nicotine replacement or bupropion to help.
strategies to build your confidence to overcome these barriers.
For example, in situations that trigger your urge to smoke, think of
If there's another smoker in your household, set boundaries by
making your home and car smoke-free.
Giving up smoking is a good change for many reasons. Identify the
reasons that are important to you.
short-term benefits (such as breathing easier, saving money, no more
smoky-smelling clothes) and long-term benefits (lower risk of
disease, increase chances for a longer life, no secondhand smoke
affecting the health of your loved ones).
Whether your list
is long or short, the better you're able to identify the benefits of
stopping, the stronger your reasons are to stop.
build your motivation to make a change. Remind yourself of these
reasons regularly, especially when you feel your motivation lagging.
may have little confidence in your ability to stop smoking. You may have
tried to stop many times. If so, try to change your perspective. Instead
of thinking of stopping as a huge, impassable obstacle, focus on the
smaller details. Identify specific situations in your day that could
help or harm your attempt to stop.
You may feel
confident that you can stay smoke-free in certain situations, such
as at your work desk, and less confident about other situations,
such as at a party.
major areas of concern. This will help you problem-solve and develop
strategies to stop smoking.
situations in which you have some confidence. You'll find that you
have many situations in which you're already able to stay
As you work on
stopping, seek the social support you need and practice your new
coping skills. In this way, you'll increase your confidence in being
able to make a move toward being smoke-free.
Are you giving yourself enough support and encouragement? Make sure to
send yourself positive messages about stopping.
Develop a positive
attitude by practicing positive self-talk. Start by looking in the
mirror and saying, "I can stop smoking" or "I can be smoke-free."
Think of one or
two phrases to use repeatedly for encouragement, such as "I can make
it" or "Keep it up."
Complementary and alternative medicine
Aside from medications, these approaches may help you relax and relieve
A form of counseling, behavior therapy helps you change the
behaviors and thoughts that contribute to anxiety. You can better
understand your anxiety triggers, develop coping skills and learn
An approach such as meditation may reduce your level of stress.
Meditation involves focusing on a word or object in a quiet
environment to provide relaxation.