Withdrawal symptoms

Nicotine is an addictive substance. In fact, experts have said the nicotine in cigarettes can be as addictive as drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

Withdrawing from any drug is bound to cause side effects and nicotine is no different. If you know what to expect and are prepared, it will help you get through the withdrawal phase.The withdrawal phase is not likely to last more than four weeks.

The table below lists common withdrawal symptoms, their likely duration and tips to get through them.

 

Irritability/aggression

Duration Less than 4 weeks
% of smokers affected 50%
Tips for management
  • Aids such as NRT, Champix or Zyban
  • Warn friends/family in advance
  • Physical activity
  • Avoid potential conflict situations

Depression

Duration Less than 4 weeks
% of smokers affected 60%
Tips for management
  • Reward yourself
  • Speak to supportive friends/family
  • Aids such as NRT
  • Don’t forget it’s only temporary

Reduced concentration

Duration Approximately 2 weeks
% of smokers affected 60%
Tips for management
  • Aids such as NRT, Champix or Zyban
  • Remind yourself it’s not likely to last more than 2 weeks

Disturbed sleep

Duration Less than 1 week
% of smokers affected 25%
Tips for management
  • Physical activity
  • Try to avoid products with caffeine

Urges to smoke

Duration Likely to be strongest in the first two weeks but should become less severe and frequent the longer you stop
% of smokers affected 70%
Tips for management
  • Aids such as NRT, Champix or Zyban
  • Identify your smoking triggers and try to avoid these
  • Change your routine
  • Distract yourself
  • Remind yourself why you’re quitting
  • Think of how much you’ve achieved already and how much more you could achieve

Increased appetite

Duration May last longer than 4 weeks
% of smokers affected 70%
Tips for management
  • Remember the main reason people put on weight is through eating the wrong food and not being physically active
  • Eat sensibly and take physical activity regularly to limit or avoid weight gain
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Aids such as NRT, Champix or Zyban