Coping With Withdrawal When You Quit Smoking —By Fred H. Kelley


Withdrawal. It can be a nasty word to any smoker. But with a little preparation and understanding of withdrawal, you can cope with it, and beat it.

Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back

If you have hesitated to quit smoking because you’re afraid of withdrawal symptoms, you’re not alone. Many would-be quitters have let their fear keep them from putting down the cigarettes. Understanding what to expect when you quit can help calm your fears.

Typical Symptoms

When you quit, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • nausea
  • irritability and hypersensitivity
  • sleeplessness or extreme exhaustion
  • anxiety
  • increased appetite
  • weight gain
  • coughing
  • increased mucous production
  • headaches
  • muscle aches and cramps
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • decreased mental acuity
  • depression
  • memory lapses
  • increased stress
  • aggressive behavior toward others

Recognize any of these? You may experience these or other symptoms when you quit. By preparing for these symptoms you can more easily overcome them. When you know ahead of time what to expect, you can plan ways to deal with the discomfort.

You should also know beforehand that most symptoms will peak two to three days after you quit and subside over the next few days. You can endure most anything for three to five days. Just plan on it and welcome it! The discomfort means that your body is healing and you’re becoming a non-smoker.

Plan your mental response to you cravings or other discomfort. Tell yourself “Oh, that’s just my body healing itself,” whenever you feel bad. Or say something like, “I’m winning” or “No pain, no gain.” Find something that helps you redirect your mind when you feel discomfort.

You should also plan to treat yourself with care right after you quit smoking. If you feel the need to eat a little more, don’t get upset about gaining weight. Smoking is much more damaging than a couple of extra pounds.

Get plenty of rest. If you feel overly tired, don’t fight it. Some smokers find that sleeping helps pass the time quicker. It will also help your body heal itself faster.

Choose a quit smoking aid, such as nicotine gum, E-Z Quit Inc’s ArtificialCigarette, etc. to help with the cravings and the hand-to-mouth motion.

Drink plenty of water. You can extinguish cravings with a drink, plus water can help your body flush out toxins quickly.

Prepare your family, friends and co-workers for your quit. Let them know you are quitting and that you might be irritable or difficult to get along with for a few days. Ask them to help you quit by giving you a wide berth if you aren’t quite your normal, friendly self. By letting the people around you know ahead of time that you are quitting, they should be much more understanding, and even encouraging of your efforts. It will help to diffuse possible personal conflicts that might drive you to start smoking again.

If necessary, give yourself a 30 to 60 minute period each day when you can be alone, and just be as irritable, belligerent and angry, as you want. Find a room away from other people and let it out! Scream and rant and cry if you want. Then join the world again and resume normal behavior.

Get some exercise. There’s so much to gain by exercising. You’ll improve your mental outlook, reduce your stress and anxiety, and alleviate irritability, while improving your health. You don’t have to become an Olympic athlete. Try walking for 5 or 10 minutes.

Remember that your habit has been with you for years. Breaking a habit that is so ingrained in your daily life usually takes patience and effort. Also keep in mind that most smokers who successfully quit try several times before they finally remain smoke-free. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t quit right away.

Focus On The Benefits

It’s easy to forget the reasons you are quitting when you are hit with a craving or you feel bad. Remember why you are giving up cigarettes. Make a list, keep it with you at all times, and read it whenever you feel tempted to give up.

Some common benefits include:

  • you take control of your life
  • save hundreds of dollars each year
  • hair, clothes, car, home etc. no longer stink
  • decreased heart rate
  • improved breathing
  • it’s easier to get a date
  • it’s easier to get a second date!
  • more energy and endurance
  • no more smoker’s breath
  • live longer
  • teeth look brighter
  • skin won’t “age” as quickly
  • less chance of getting sick
  • you set a better example for your children
  • you are no longer dependent on cigarettes
  • no more 3 a.m. runs to the convenience store
  • reduced insurance cost
  • lower medical bills

Make your own personal list of benefits. Read it regularly.

Withdrawal symptoms are a natural part of quitting smoking. How you plan for them and deal with them will make all the difference in your attempt to quit smoking.


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