Managing withdrawal

Nicotine withdrawal is common during the first two weeks of being smoke-free. Here's what to expect and what you can do about it.

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How will you manage withdrawal?

  • 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.
  • Anxiety is a normal part of withdrawal. It usually passes within two 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, so try drinking less coffee.
  • Warn your friends and family that you might be a little out of sorts. Being irritable is a normal part of nicotine withdrawal. It can last for 1-2 weeks and may be more intense for those who were heavier smokers. Try going for a walk or doing something else you find relaxing or enjoyable.
  • Nicotine is a stimulant, so when it’s gone, you might feel more tired. 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.
  • For the first 2 weeks of being smoke-free you may feel foggy or have difficulty focusing. Nicotine increases your body’s release of stored sugars and fats, which helped you stay alert. 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.
  • It is normal to have feelings of sadness, depression, or confusion after you quit. Quitting smoking is a big change, physically and emotionally. Get support by reaching to a friend, family member, a 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, consult your doctor.
  • Feelings of anger and frustration are typical after you quit, especially within the first few days. Let people know what to expect. Accept the emotions instead of repressing them. Vent your feelings safely, talk with a friend about them, or talk to one of our Quit Coaches.
  • Increased appetite is common and can last for several weeks after your quit. Partly it’s because your body is confusing nicotine cravings for food cravings. Instead of eating more, eat smaller amounts more often, and choose healthy snacks such as vegetable sticks.
  • 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 moderate exercise.
  • Withdrawal from nicotine 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 so soon you may feel more rested with less sleep.