Coping with Nicotine Withdrawal

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Calendar icon Last Updated: 11/12/2018

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Cravings are a huge part of withdrawal, especially for a drug like nicotine. According to the NCI, “In addition to nicotine cravings, reminders in your daily life of times when you used to smoke may trigger you to smoke.” Knowing these triggers yourself and being able to recognize them when they occur can go a long way toward helping you deal with long-term nicotine withdrawal. Some common triggers for smokers are:

Nicotine Withdrawal

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  • Driving or riding in a car
  • Boredom
  • Drinking alcohol, coffee, or tea
  • Eating
  • Mornings and evenings
  • Being stressed
  • “Being around smokers”

If you know these triggers, “limit your contact with smokers,” and “focus on what you’ve gained by quitting,” it can help you fight the strong cravings you will feel for cigarettes.

Consider NRTs or Medications

According to the USDHHS, “Nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, sprays, and lozenges are called nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).” They are called this because they “take the place of nicotine from cigarettes.” Because the body is getting what it craves, the NRTs will lessen the withdrawal symptoms you feel.

Many people are able to gradually get themselves off of the use of cigarettes with these treatments, but it can be difficult. It helps with nicotine withdrawal, but it can also be trying. For those who do not want to or cannot quit completely at first, NRTs are a good resource for helping with cravings, withdrawal, and the general lessening of the amount they smoke.

There are also medications like bupropion SR pills or varenicline pills which do not contain nicotine but help to ease withdrawal symptoms. You will need a prescription to get them, but they can be very effective.

Reach Out to Others

You do not necessarily need to take an NRT or a medication to stop smoking. Although it can help, the NLM states that “family members, friends, and co-workers may be supportive.” This can be very helpful, especially during the trying times of the early withdrawal phase. “Quitting tobacco is hard if you are acting alone,” and talking to people in your support system can help you cope with withdrawal, as well as cravings and other issues.

There are other options as well. “A smoking cessation program may improve your chance for success,” and these are often available everywhere, from hospitals to community centers to even work sites. Talking to your doctor is also important, as something could be prescribed for your insomnia and/or other symptoms from nicotine withdrawal.

Change Your Habits

According to the NIC, “The morning can set the tone for the rest of the day. Plan a different wake-up routine, and divert your attention from smoking.” If this works for you, do this for the other symptoms of your withdrawal besides cravings; change your habits in order to remind yourself not to be irritable with others or to help yourself sleep at night. Do something fun that makes you happy in order to feel less grouchy.

Change your habits so that you can lessen nicotine’s withdrawal symptoms and its hold on your life. Once you do so, you will be starting toward a new life without cigarettes. Sometimes, coping with withdrawal can take a completely new outlook.