Physical withdrawal from nicotine can make quitting smoking challenging. The physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are uncomfortable, but not life-threatening. Quit aids and other medications can help to reduce physical symptoms.

Nicotine withdrawal is the strongest in the first week of quitting and can last 2-4 weeks. Nicotine is completely out of your body in about 3 days.

Common symptoms of withdrawal are:

  • Dizziness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Hunger
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Coughing
  • Lethargic
  • Headaches
  • Sleeplessness
  • Irritability

Most nicotine cravings only last 3- to 5-minutes.

Some strategies to overcome tobacco cravings:


The Four D’s:

  • D-elay………………………………..Wait it out for 5 minutes
  • Distract yourself…………………Do something else
  • Deep breathing…………………..Release tension
  • Drink water………………………..Satisfy the craving

The Two R’s:

  • Remind…………………………….Go over your reasons to quit. Keep a list handy in your back pocket or wallet; keep a photo of loved ones.
  • Refuse……………………………..Think: it’s not that you can’t smoke, it’s that you don’t need to smoke.

Keep track of your urges.
Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How often?……………………….Count how many urges
  • How strong?………………………Rate them on a scale of 1- 5
  • How long?…………………………Track how long the urge lasts
  • What triggered them?………..Make a plan

Use positive thoughts to get you through the urges.

Other ways to deal with smoking triggers are:

  • Change you routine or your environment.
  • Clean carpets, dry clean curtains, clean windows and walls to erase the smell.
  • Keep your hands and mouth busy. Snack on baby carrots, apple slices, celery sticks. Hold a pen in your hand to replace the feeling of a cigarette.
  • Distract yourself by keeping busy. Maybe it’s time for that hobby or home project!
  • Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. It’s never a bad idea to seek out support.

Resources

California Smokers’ Helpline 1-800-NO-BUTTS

Provides telephone counseling, text messaging, self-help materials, online help and referral to local programs, phone app (iPhones only)
https://www.nobutts.org/free-services-for-smokers-trying-to-quit

Smokefree.gov

Provides smokefree applications, texting programs, online chats with an expert, and building your quit plan.
https://smokefree.gov/tools-tips

Smoking Cessation Leadership Center

Online tobacco cessation information
https://smokingcessationleadership.ucsf.edu/ready-quit