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I’m Afraid of Withdrawal Symptoms

Quitting smoking causes unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms.

Rest assured! These unpleasant feelings are normal and they’re a positive sign. They indicate that your body and mind are adapting to the change, the return to “natural.” The symptoms vary in intensity and duration from one person to the next, depending on the number of years of smoking, the quantity of cigarettes smoked, and the capacity of the body to re-set itself. They are also temporary while the benefits of quitting smoking increase throughout the rest of your life!

Here are some withdrawal symptoms related to smoking cessation and the type of actions to take to make them pass faster:

Dizziness: 1 to 2 days

Why?
The body is receiving more oxygen through the blood, triggering a condition that resembles hyperventilation.

How to get rid of it?
Take a few slow, deep breaths (like yawning), and stretch.

Fatigue: 2 to 4 weeks

Why?
The body is undergoing detoxification and is adjusting to the absence of nicotine and its stimulating effects.

How to get rid of it?
Sleep enough to recuperate, move, eat healthy food and drink a lot of water.

Insomnia: Up to 3 weeks

Why?
Some former smokers go through a period of insomnia.

How to get rid of it?
Avoid stimulants (e.g. coffee, Pepsi, Coke). Go for a walk after supper. Take a bath, drink a glass of milk, ask someone to massage your scalp, watch a funny film or read the telephone directory...

Cough: 3 to 4 weeks

Why?
The respiratory system is starting to do its job of evacuating your system using the vibrating hairs in your bronchial tubes. The hairs were paralyzed by the constituents of cigarette smoke.

How to get rid of it?
Here, nature will do its job without your help. However, you can help by engaging in physical activity that is appropriate to your level of fitness, eating healthy food and drinking a lot of water…

Constipation: 3 to 4 semaines

Why?
The body is used to the intestinal stimulation caused by nicotine, and is struggling to recover its natural functions.

How to get rid of it?
Drink water, and eat fruit, raw vegetables and whole grain products if you can (for the fibre). Physical activity can also help.

Hunger: Several weeks

Why?
This is normal, and it’s a good sign! Your sense of taste and smell are reviving, bringing back your appetite and enjoyment of food! The hunger signal resumes its normal status when the damaged caused to the sugar metabolism by smoking has been repaired. However, smoking will have developed a constant need to have something in your mouth, and you will need to work on overcoming this.

How to get rid of it?
Check whether you really are hungry, or if it’s just a need to have something in your mouth. Eat small but frequent low-calorie snacks, and always choose something that’s good for you. In doing this, you’ll improve your metabolism while eating less, so you won’t put on weight in the process.

Sweet tooth: Several weeks

Why?
As mentioned previously, smoking has damaged your sugar metabolism. In addition, sweetness generates pleasure (a characteristic essential to human survival, since sugar is the only source of energy for the brain). Sugar therefore becomes a source of gratification that can easily and quickly replace the gratification previously gained from cigarettes.

How to get rid of it?
If you suddenly develop a sweet tooth, try to eat a protein-filled snack (e.g. nuts, yoghourt, cheese). Meals containing foods rich in complex carbohydrates (e.g. bread, cereals, whole grain pasta) can also help assuage your sweet tooth. Eating fruit or low-calorie desserts may also help.

Obsessive desire to smoke: 2 weeks and more

Why?
This can arise for all kinds of reasons: for example, insufficient levels of endorphins, everyday difficulties, that small inner voice that keeps saying you can’t do this, and ungrounded fear.

How to get rid of it?
React quickly: don’t remain alone with your thoughts: distract yourself, do something you like, write to someone, or remove yourself from the situation causing the desire to smoke. In other words, apply the tips. Practice the I QUIT NOW online help exercises. They train you to accept your thoughts, but without following them! Moving helps a lot too.

Irritability: Variable

Why?
Deprived of its drug, the body is reacting through deprivation stress, which can trigger impatience, irritability or even anger.

How to get rid of it?
Tell yourself over and over that your irritability is proof that you’re gradually recovering your freedom. Do things you enjoy and laugh as often as possible (e.g. chase your dog and bark at him...).

Headaches and pressure behind the eyes: Variable

Why?
The organism is missing the nicotine to which it has become accustomed, and this creates tension.

How to get rid of it?
Relax. Take deep breaths, stretch your limbs or ask someone to massage your scalp.

I need help

You would like to have support from smoking cessation professionals to help you quit smoking, but you don’t know which service to turn to? Learn more about the I QUIT NOW services and their free personalized support via online help, by phone, in person or by text message.

HELP ONLINE

You want to quit smoking at you own pace and keep track of your progress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Sign up to the I QUIT NOW online help for free and discover our everyday life tips and experiential exercises to help let the cravings pass.

HELP BY PHONE

1-866-527-7383

Want to speak with a specialist to help you quit smoking?

Call the I QUIT NOW helpline. It’s free!
Monday to Thursday: 8 A.M. to 9 P.M.
Friday: 8 A.M. to 8 P.M.

*** For Quebec residents only ***

HELP IN PERSON

QUIT SMOKING CENTRES

Want to meet with a specialist to help you quit smoking?

Find the Quit Smoking Centre nearest you!

To find out the current situation in your area related to COVID-19, please contact directly the Quit Smoking Centre nearest you.

HELP BY TEXT MESSAGE

SMAT

Want to receive tips and advices on quitting smoking by text message?

Sign up for free!

SMAT


*** For Quebec residents only ***