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How to deal with the first few days

The first few days of quitting can be the most challenging. You may have strong regular cravings due to nicotine withdrawal and also from triggers (to smoke or vape). Being prepared and knowing what to expect can make things easier.

The first few days of quitting

As the days pass cravings will occur less and less often. They will grow weaker until you’re not thinking of smoking or vaping for days, then weeks, then months at a time. 

But in the first few days many people have nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as feeling irritable and strong cravings. Most nicotine leaves your bloodstream within a day but feelings of nicotine withdrawal typically last 2 to 4 weeks (and sometimes longer) as your body adjusts to being free of nicotine. 

If you have strong cravings or nicotine withdrawal symptoms:

Distract me
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about quitting. They can advise if any medications are appropriate to help you stop smoking and/or vaping. 

  • If you're finding the first few weeks after quitting smoking tough, stop smoking medications can help to take the edge off cravings and feelings of nicotine withdrawal. In fact, using Quitline along with stop smoking medications like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or prescribed tablets, is the best way to stop smoking.  

More tips to help you stay quit in the first few days

  • Keep motivated by reminding yourself of your reasons to quit smoking or vaping. 

  • Keep occupied and have lots of distractions at hand to help you focus your mind away from smoking or vaping thoughts. 

  • Make changes to your routine to limit smoking or vaping triggers.  

  • A craving will usually fade away in a few minutes. Take each one as it comes and practise the 4Ds (Delay acting on the craving for five minutes and it will usually pass, Deep breathe, Drink water, or Do something else). 

  • Lean on your friends who don’t smoke or vape to distract you from cravings and to keep you motivated.  

  • Remind yourself you’re getting closer and closer to a time when you’ll be happier and healthier and free of smoking or vaping thoughts.  

  • More tips if you're craving a cigarette or vape right now.  

Please note,this information is for general use only.  Please consult your health professional for further advice.  

If you would like to provide feedback, please contact quit@cancervic.org.au 

Last updated February 2024

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Staying quit
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