7 Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal

How to cope with 6 common nicotine withdrawal symptoms so you can quit smoking for good

7 Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal

Nicotine withdrawal occurs because of tobacco's addictive qualities. The primary psychoactive ingredient in cigarettes and other tobacco products is nicotine. People become dependent on the drug because it stimulates the nervous system and binds to receptors in the brain that release dopamine — a feel-good hormone. 

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When you start smoking, vaping, or chewing tobacco on a regular basis, you develop more nicotine receptors in your brain. When you stop smoking, these receptors do not receive nicotine and therefore, stop releasing dopamine. This causes unpleasant side effects — known as nicotine withdrawal — and is one of the reasons why quitting can be so difficult. 

What is nicotine withdrawal?

You can think of nicotine withdrawal as your body's way of protesting your decision to quit smoking.

According to John Hughes, MD, a professor emeritus of psychiatry and psychological science at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine's Vermont Center on Behavior and Health, you will begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms within 24 hours after your last cigarette. 

However, the longer you go without nicotine, the more your brain receptors will return to normal, and the less you will feel unwanted side effects. Here are some of the most common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal: 

1. Nicotine cravings 

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Once you quit smoking, you may start experiencing a strong desire for nicotine. Distracting yourself or simply toughing it out can work, but medication combined with nicotine replacement therapy is really «sort of our first line» of defense, says Hughes. 

Common treatments for nicotine cravings include: 

To further curb cravings, avoid triggers — locations, situations, or individuals you associate with tobacco use. 

«There are many cases where people do well for six weeks, then some stressful situation comes up and they just have a craving for a cigarette and go back to smoking,» says Neal Benowitz, MD, a professor emeritus of medicine and bioengineering and therapeutic sciences at the University of California San Francisco and chief of the division of clinical pharmacology at San Francisco General Hospital.

2. Insomnia or wakefulness

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Many people in recovery from nicotine addiction report having difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep, known as insomnia.

To reduce your lihood of experiencing sleep disturbances, you should develop a nightly relaxation ritual and avoid drinking caffeinated beverages after 6 p.m. Supplements such as melatonin may be able to help you sleep better, too, though you should talk with your doctor before taking any sleeping pills, even if they're over-the-counter. 

3. Changes in appetite

You may also notice an increase in appetite that can persist for several months or more. Exercise and mindful eating are typically effective countermeasures. 

You can also try starting nicotine replacement therapy or taking the prescription medication Zyban, as both of these have been clinically proven to prevent nicotine withdrawal-associated weight gain.

4. Depression or anxiety

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Immediately after you quit, it's normal to experience a decrease in mood and an increase in anxiety. However, your mental health will ly improve within one week to a month. 

In the meantime, sustained physical activity, social and spousal support, and counseling can help improve your mood.

5. Irritability

Another psychological change that often accompanies nicotine withdrawal is irritability. 

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If you feel on edge, try breathing deeply and engaging in a calming activity such as a massage, meditation session, or walk. Limiting your caffeine intake can also reduce irritability. 

6. Difficulty concentrating

People going through nicotine withdrawal often have difficulty focusing. If you find yourself struggling to concentrate, reduce your workload, keep stress to a minimum, and have a healthy snack every few hours to ensure your blood sugar levels stay normal.  

How long does nicotine withdrawal last? 

Since every smoker's body is different, every smoker will experience nicotine withdrawal differently. Some may experience no adverse effects, while others can have severe ones. The majority of symptoms, however, will disappear mostly or completely within a month. 

Here is a timeline of when nicotine withdrawal symptoms start after your final cigarette and how long they last:  

  • 1 to 2 hours: Nicotine cravings will begin and last for two to four weeks. However, you can get occasional cravings for up to six months. 
  • 10 hours: You may notice a change in your mood, such as feeling anxious, irritable,  depressed, or having difficulty concentrating. 
  • 24 hours: An increase in appetite begins and may last several weeks, if not longer. This symptom «seems to take longer to go away» than the majority of others, says Hughes. 
  • 1 week: You may have difficulty sleeping in the first week of nicotine withdrawal, but you should be able to adjust after one week.
  • 2 to 4 weeks: You may notice you are becoming less irritable, and your ability to concentrate should improve. However, «some have a hard time concentrating for weeks or longer, or months, just because they're so used to having a cigarette during their work,» says Benowitz.

When to see a doctor 

Unpleasant as it can be, nicotine withdrawal is never physically dangerous or life-threatening.  However, reach out to your doctor if you are looking for advice on curbing symptoms as they may be able to prescribe certain medications or offer other treatment options.


Nicotine withdrawal can cause mental and physical symptoms that will temporarily affect your mood, sleep, appetite, and ability to focus. However, despite the unpleasant side effects, quitting tobacco will protect and improve your health, making the pain well worth it in the long-run.

Источник: https://www.insider.com/nicotine-withdrawal-symptoms

Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline

7 Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal

Nicotine is the addictive compound present in tobacco products. Prolonged use of nicotine products results in physical and psychological dependence on nicotine. This development involves changes in brain regions, including the reward centers of the brain, that lead to the sustained intake of nicotine.

Discontinuation of nicotine use results in withdrawal symptoms that involve intense drug cravings, depression, irritability and anxiety. These symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can lead to the resumption of nicotine use, treatment at an outpatient or inpatient detox can help avoid a relapse.

Article at a Glance:

  • Four signs must be present upon stopping nicotine for it to be considered withdrawal, such as anxiety, insomnia, increased appetite and depressed mood.
  • Nicotine withdrawal is not usually life-threatening but it can be very uncomfortable and result in relapse.
  • There are natural ways to reduce nicotine cravings, including avoiding triggers and exercising.
  • Nicotine withdrawal symptoms begin within 4-24 hours and may last 3-4 weeks.
  • Many people need multiple attempts to overcome a dependence on nicotine.

Signs of Nicotine Withdrawal

Certain diagnostic criteria must be fulfilled for an individual to be diagnosed with nicotine withdrawal. Any four of the following signs must be present upon cessation of nicotine use for it to be considered withdrawal:

  • Irritability or anger
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Depressed mood
  • Increased appetite

It is essential to be honest with one’s physician in the case of the resumption of nicotine due to withdrawal symptoms. The physician can recommend a different over-the-counter or prescription nicotine replacement products to ease the withdrawal symptoms. There are also other medications bupropion or varenicline that can reduce cravings and ameliorate withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms

The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are generally not life-threatening. However, these symptoms can be severe and cause significant discomfort, often leading to a relapse. These symptoms may feel a bad flu.

  • Physical Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal:Some of the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:
    • Increased appetite and weight gain
    • Insomnia
    • Nausea
    • Constipation
    • Tremors
    • Headaches
    • Decreased heart rate
    • Drug cravings
  • Psychological Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal:

    Some of the psychological symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:

    • Irritability
    • Anxiety
    • Depressed mood
    • Restlessness
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • An inability to feel pleasure

How to Ease Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms

Quitting nicotine cold-turkey can result in more severe withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine replacement therapy is helpful in alleviating withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings.

It involves the use of products that contain low doses of nicotine and include nicotine patches, lozenges, gum, inhalers and sprays. These products are safe when used over a limited period and deliver small doses of nicotine without the toxic chemicals present in tobacco products.

Nicotine replacement therapy involves using higher doses of these products at the onset and tapering off the nicotine dose amount over time.

Other medications, such as varenicline and the antidepressant bupropion, are also effective in reducing cravings for nicotine.

Natural Remedies to Ease Nicotine Cravings

Some of the natural ways to cope with nicotine withdrawal symptoms may include engaging in exercise, distracting oneself by engaging in pleasurable activities and avoiding triggers that lead to nicotine use.

Avoiding triggers includes maintaining a nicotine-free environment and may require asking friends and family members to refrain from smoking around the individual. This necessity may also involve avoiding public places where smoking is common and avoiding foods or drinks (such as coffee) that would trigger cravings.

Many individuals use nicotine products to cope with stress and managing stress may be important to avoid a relapse.

Intake of plenty of water and getting adequate rest may also be helpful.

How Long Does Nicotine Withdrawal Last?

The onset of symptoms of nicotine withdrawal occurs within the first 4 to 24 hours after abstinence from smoking or the use of other nicotine products. These symptoms peak within the first week after the onset of abstinence and persist for around two to four weeks. Cravings for nicotine may last for a longer duration and gradually decrease over weeks or months.

Nicotine Withdrawal Timeline

The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal appear within the first few hours when quitting nicotine cold-turkey. The general  timeline of the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are:

  • 4 to 24 hours: Withdrawal symptoms start to emerge during this period.
  • 2 to 3 days: The withdrawal symptoms peak during this period and include anxiety, depression, intense cravings, headaches, restlessness and irritability.
  • 3 to 4 weeks: Most of the withdrawal symptoms mentioned gradually disappear during this time. The total duration of withdrawal symptoms may depend on the frequency, dose and duration of nicotine use.

Factors Influencing Nicotine Withdrawal

The most important factors that influence the severity of symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include the individual’s physiological characteristics and the history of nicotine use.

The physiological characteristics of an individual determined by an individual’s genetics, sex and health.

The severity of nicotine dependence, determined by the frequency and duration of nicotine use, is one of the primary factors that determine the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Co-occurring psychiatric disorders depression and simultaneous dependence on other substances can also influence nicotine withdrawal. Exposure to triggers such as other individuals smoking or stressful situations can determine the intensity of cravings.

Nicotine Detox

Although many individuals attempt to quit smoking or using nicotine products, most efforts are unsuccessful due to the addictive qualities of nicotine.

The withdrawal symptoms caused due to abstinence from nicotine are not life-threatening but they cause considerable discomfort. These withdrawal symptoms often lead to the resumption of nicotine use. Many people require multiple attempts to overcome nicotine dependence.

Gradually reducing the dose of nicotine can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and nicotine cravings.

Nicotine replacement therapy utilizes such an approach and involves the use of products nicotine gum, nicotine patches and nicotine sprays that deliver small doses of nicotine. These nicotine products are used more frequently at the onset of treatment and then are gradually tapered off.

  • SourcesBaker, Timothy B.; Breslau, Naiomi; Covey, Liliro; Shiffman, Saul. “DSM criteria for tobacco use disorder and tobacco withdrawal: A critique and proposed revisions for DSM‐5.” Addiction, February 2012. Accessed September 13, 2019.McLaughlin, Ian; Dani, John; De Biasi, Mariella. “Nicotine withdrawal.” The Neuropharmacology of Nicotine Dependence. 2015. September 13, 2019.National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Tobacco, Nicotine, and E-Cigarettes.” January 2018.  September 13, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes.

We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.

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Источник: https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/nicotine-addiction/withdrawal-detox/

What is nicotine withdrawal?

7 Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal

When you stop smoking, your body craves nicotine. In the first few days and weeks after stopping, you will ly feel some nicotine withdrawals. It's easier to deal with nicotine withdrawal when you know what to expect.

Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco. When you quit smoking you may experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms. These are temporary physical and emotional changes. Think of them as signs that your body is recovering from smoking. 

Common nicotine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Urges to smoke or cravings
  • Restlessness or difficulty concentrating
  • Sleeping difficulties and sleep disturbances
  • Irritability, anger, anxiety, crying, sadness or depression
  • Increase in hunger or weight gain

Less common nicotine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Cold symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and sneezing
  • Constipation, diarrhoea, stomach aches or nausea
  • Dizziness or feeling light-headed
  • Mouth ulcers

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually begin a few hours after your last cigarette. They are usually strongest in the first week. For most people, nicotine withdrawal fade and are gone after about 2 to 4 weeks. Chat to your doctor or a Quitline counsellor if you find that nicotine withdrawal is lasting longer. 

  • Quitline can offer you a number of calls, especially in the first few weeks, to help you stay on track. 
  • Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products such as gum, mouth spray, patches and lozenges can reduce withdrawal symptoms. 
  • Prescribed stop smoking tablets can also reduce withdrawal symptoms.
  • Doing exercise you enjoy can help reduce cravings and nicotine withdrawal. 

NRT helps by replacing some of the nicotine you would normally get from a cigarette. You may still get cravings but NRT products take the edge off. Using NRT can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

If you are using NRT products but still have strong withdrawal, take a look at how you use them.

With the mouth spray some people spray it onto their throat instead of under their tongue or on the inside of their cheek. You don't puff the inhaler a cigarette, but instead take lots of little sips.

To learn how to use NRT products, visit their individual page: patches, gum, mouth spray, lozenge, inhaler. 

Nicotine patches, lozenges and gum are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) at a discounted rate. See your doctor for a prescription. 

If you're thinking of NRT, we recommend combination therapy: using patches plus a fast-acting NRT product mouth spray or lozenge. 

Also, to get the most from NRT products, try to use them for at least 8 weeks. 

These medications are designed to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor about these medications.

Keep reminding yourself of the good things that are happening to your body. Now that you have quit smoking, your body has begun to repair. 

Call Quitline for tips or request a Quitline callback. 

Last updated October 2021.

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Источник: https://www.quit.org.au/articles/what-is-nicotine-withdrawal/

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