Nicotine withdrawal: Symptoms, timeline, and how to cope

The Nicotine Withdrawal Timeline: What To Expect During

If you’re dealing with nicotine withdrawal symptoms, find ways to distract yourself from the distressing effects. You can stay active by engaging in sports or spending time with family. Getting plenty of rest is also an effective way to manage difficult symptoms.

The American author, Mark Twain, is famously reported to have quipped that “it’s easy to quit smoking – I’ve done it hundreds of times.” Smokers who have developed a nicotine addiction will appreciate the irony in this quote, particularly if they have tried to stop smoking on one or more occasions. The physical and psychological connection to nicotine can create cravings that overwhelm even the most dedicated individual and that can doom their attempts to stop smoking. Before you try to stop smoking either on your own or with the assistance of any programs, you will be best served by understanding the process and duration of nicotine withdrawal that you will probably experience.

A physician may recommend nicotine replacement therapy, which helps people taper off of tobacco products. These treatment options include gum, patches, lozenges, inhalers and nasal sprays that provide small amounts of nicotine to the body.

Each day, countless Americans use cigarettes or other nicotine products. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that about 80 to 90 percent of regular cigarette smokers are addicted to nicotine.

Some people do everything they can to alleviate these effects. Individuals experiencing nicotine withdrawal symptoms often go back to using tobacco products during their first week of abstinence, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

You will likely be over the worst of any physical withdrawal symptoms within two or three days after your last cigarette, though they’ve been known to last for longer. Some physical symptoms will linger for a week or more, but during those first few days, you will likely have episodes of lightheadedness or headaches, nausea, restlessness, and stomach problems. You might find that you want to eat more frequently or consume greater amounts of food. Many former smokers gain a few pounds or more during their initial smoke-free periods.

Some days will be harder than others. But it is important to remind yourself of the benefits of a tobacco-free life.