The first few days of quitting smoking can be the most challenging. You may have strong regular cravings due to nicotine withdrawal and also from smoking triggers. 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 for days, then weeks, then months at a time.
But in the first few days most people have nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and strong cravings. Most nicotine leaves the bloodstream within a day but nicotine withdrawal symptoms 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:
- Talk to one of Quitline counsellor, or request a Quitline callback. We've got lots of ideas and tips to help you stay quit. Give us a call on 13 7848. We can support you over the next few days and weeks.
- Talk to your doctor about quitting. You can get discounted nicotine patches or quitting medication through you doctor.
- If you're finding the first few weeks really tough, stop smoking medications can help to take the edge off cravings and nicotine withdrawal symptoms. In fact, using Quitline with stop smoking medications like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or prescribed tablets, is the most effective quitting method.
More tips to help you stay smokefree in the first few days
- Keep motivated by reminding yourself of your reasons to quit.
- Keep occupied and have lots of distractions at hand to help you focus your mind away from smoking thoughts.
- Make changes to your routine to limit smoking 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 non-smoking friends to distract you from cravings and to keep you motivated.
- Remind yourself that you’re getting closer and closer
to a time when you’ll be happier and healthier and free of smoking thoughts.
- More tips if you're craving a cigarette right now.
Last updated June 2022.
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