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Nicotine withdrawal side effects

When you withdraw from nicotine, three common side effects can occur:

1. Cravings

2. Mental/Emotional states

3. Weight gain

Learn how to handle these side effects here. We invite you to ask us your questions about nicotine withdrawal or nicotine withdrawal duration symptoms at the end in the comments section. We reply to all legitimate concerns.

Side effect #1: Cravings

Nicotine is the substance in tobacco that causes addiction. Nicotine cravings occur when you no longer have a certain level of nicotine in your body or when triggered by people, places or things that remind you of nicotine’s euphoric effects.

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Cravings are perhaps the most difficult side effect of nicotine withdrawal because they persist long after the acute signs of physical withdrawal wear off. Everyone deals with cravings differently. But the best thing that you can do is to have a plan for what you will do when they occur. Check out these quitting nicotine resources for more ideas.

Side effect #2: Mental and emotional states

Anger, frustration, and irritability. Anxiety and depression. All of these are side effects that can occur when you stop bringing nicotine into your body.

In terms of emotional states, studies have found that the most common negative feelings associated with quitting are feelings of anger, frustration, and irritability. These negative feelings peak within 1 week of quitting and may last 2 to 4 weeks after your last dose of nicotine. While temporary, these feelings may be unwanted and can be managed a number of ways. Nicotine replacement therapies can help take the edge off. Physical activities, meditation or reduced caffeine may also help. Know that this time will pass and you will start feeling better soon.

In terms of mental states, anxiety and depression may be either a short term condition caused by absence of nicotine, or may need to be treated by a specialist. If anxiety occurs, it builds over the first 3 days after quitting and may last 2 weeks. If mild depression occurs, it will usually begin within the first day, continue for the first couple of weeks, and go away within a month. If either of these conditions last longer than a month, seek medical help. Prescription medications for treating these mental states or nicotine replacement products may be able to help you manage what’s happening internally.

Side effect #3: Weight gain

When you stop using nicotine, metabolic rate slows down. It can take a few weeks to months to return to normal and burn calories. Additionally, appetite increases when you stop using nicotine and food intake increases. The senses of taste and smell are further heightened, as well as dietary preferences. But the basic concept is this: When less calories are burned and more calories are consumed, weight gain occurs.

The average person who quits using nicotine can gain 6-10 pounds after stopping, usually within the first 6 months. The more nicotine used, the more weight likely to be gained. Although weight gain is not a 100% certain side effect of nicotine withdrawal, is can also not be 100% prevented. Eating right, exercising, and planning meals can go a long way to minimizing weight gain as you adjust to life without nicotine.

Problems withdrawing from nicotine?

Nicotine is a psychoactive drug that produces dependence and can be just as addictive or even more addictive than heroin or cocaine.  Are Black and Milds addictive?  Yes.  Even cigars or cigarellos (Black and Milds) can be addictive.  If you are having a difficult time during nicotine withdrawal, you are not alone. If you need help, there are local, state and federal government agencies set up to provide you with information and personal guidance. Check out this CDC page dedicated to government resources on quitting tobacco and nicotine or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for immediate help.

Otherwise, please let us know what you’re going through. We invite you to post your experiences, remarks, and even complaints about nicotine withdrawal below. We are happy to respond to comments personally and will try to help you as best we can.

Reference sources: NCI Fact Sheet on How To Handle Withdrawal Symptoms and Triggers When You Decide To Quit Smoking
Forever Free: A guide to remaining smoke free, Smoking and Weight

Photo credit: Crack Unit [dot] com

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24 Responses to “Nicotine withdrawal side effects
Sydney
5:19 am April 11th, 2012

I’ve noticed in my withdrawal from smoking cigarettes I dont get the emotional states associated with withdrawal. I get disturbing thoughts. I feel like a dark figure is perched on my head with its claws in my brain wispering in my ear, I’m not crazy because it only happens when I quit smoking. Is this something that happens to anyone else?

12:37 pm April 11th, 2012

Hi Sydney. Thanks for sharing you experience. I cannot relate directly to nicotine, but while going through withdrawal from other substances, I have felt a range of emotions, dark and depressing. And I have found myself thinking thoughts that do not normally occur.

I wonder if you have tried called a stop smoking hotline? Perhaps it would be a good way to calm the thoughts during your more dark moments, and to know that what you are experiencing is normal. There is a great resource at smoke free dot gov. Let me know if this helps!

mike
12:44 am April 22nd, 2012

came here to see if nicotine withdrawal could cause depression seems like it can well that explains a lot

joan
8:32 pm May 14th, 2012

my husband smoked for 23 years. he has finally quit with the help of Chantix (which has it’s own set of issues.) but my problem is this: we have been married for almost 20 years, have 2 beautiful children and a really good life. he quit almost a year ago but is still depressed, volatile, moody and sort of an a$$hole to be around in general. he has happy moods too, but they can turn on a dime and we never know who will be coming home from work or rolling out of bed.

is this normal? if so, how long will it last? i’ve begged him to go see someone and get on some anti-depressants but he just doesn’t think he needs it. please tell me that there is an end in sight.

12:34 pm May 16th, 2012

Hi Joan. Although protracted symptoms of withdrawal can occur for months after drug use, nicotine withdrawal symptoms tends to resolve within the first year.

I know that men can resist the idea of getting help for psycho-social problems, but you might want to outline the case for him. Underlying any addiction are always “issues”, and this is also true for nicotine. So although your husband may not be smoking, it does not sound like he is happy.

I’d suggest that you seek a counselor for yourself to work through what you want in the relationship, and then ask eventually that he do the same. You can attend individual counseling, and then marriage counseling. Often, a good 6 weeks of therapy can make things more clear. What good is life when you are not happy in it?

Sandy
6:20 pm August 6th, 2012

I am on day 17 and have dizzy spells, feeling of everything being sureal and odd thoughts, just feeling crappy along with severe fatigue. I am currently being treated for AFIB, Highblood presuure and high cholestrol. I am wondering is my medications need to be adjusted? Anyone esle have these symptons?

1:47 am August 8th, 2012

Hi Sandy. If the medications are new, by all means, check in with your prescribing doctor. Underlying medical conditions can cause all of the symptoms that you describe, and while possible that they are also caused by nicotine withdrawal, you’ll want to rule out all possible illness. And congratulations! Please let us know how you’re doing and what’s helping you.

jenn
2:34 pm August 24th, 2012

Day one, dizzy, nausus, and kind of lightheaded. Normal? How long will this last? :)

11:25 am September 5th, 2012

Hi Jenn. Totally normal. These symptoms tend to be more intense in the first three (3) or so days after you quit, but can linger on and off for the first week after you stop smoking. I’d suggest that you go for a check up with your doctor so that you can get encouragement for this decision and to take a baseline on your health, which you can gradually watch improve over time.

llll
1:58 pm October 22nd, 2012

i quit smoking 5 days ago but feeling very sick
non stop caughing, headaches, chest pain, cold symptoms, nausea, shevers
how long is this going to last

9:02 am October 24th, 2012

Hello llll. The duration of any withdrawal varies by person. But you should start feeling better after the first week off nicotine, and definitely start to notice improvements in mood and energy by Week 3 after stopping nicotine.

Grace
6:08 pm December 13th, 2012

I smoked 1 pack a day for 25 years. i am in week six of having quit and am having strong feelings of depression, anger, irritability, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and weight gain. I have had disturbing thoughts. I have no desire to do anything or be with anyone, however feeling very lonely. i am concerned that these feeling are still persisting in week 6. I have called my doctor and he will call a medicine in. I hope these horrible feelings go away. I’m not sure my marriage will tolerate this for a year.

Bob
2:18 am December 24th, 2013

I stopped smoking cigars 3 months ago ( 5-6 ) Per day. used Chantrix for 1 week couldn’t handle it and stopped Chantrix and smoking the next week. Didn’t have any issues for a few weeks but have been waking up in the morning feeing l ok but within a couple of hours start feeling of fear and anxiety and are getting worse and worse each day. The pit of my stomach starts to tighten and well up all over my chest . Feels like chest congestion Broke down last night crying ,sobbing with fears of dying .

Is normal , my mind just keeps wandering

Been to my pcp ,cardiolist, ent appointment with allergist then pulmonary doc – also going to see a shrink

3:58 pm December 27th, 2013

Hi Bob. Nicotine withdrawal comes with many physical and psychological side effects. Good for you to seek medical help from a number of specialists! I think you’ll find your answers as you go through the process. Things will most likely start to even out in the next few months. Until then, keep up the good work!

Mona
10:27 pm March 10th, 2014

every time I quit cold turkey I sleep all the time, have do this several times. I have cut down to 6 a day and it still happens.

Stephania
2:54 pm June 22nd, 2014

Can nicotine-free smoking herbs or cigarettes be used to help get through withdrawal?

Bonnie
11:47 pm April 15th, 2015

My adult son, who lives with me, just stopped smoking. He is showing all of the symptoms of that. I am so glad that your website is available for me to read so that I can understand what he is going through. Thanks!

10:02 am April 16th, 2015

Hi Bonnie. I’m glad you find our information helpful. I wish your son a fast and successful recovery.

cindy
7:50 pm June 13th, 2015

Quit smoking 6 weeks ago. Using E-cig with nicotine to take the edge off. Still feeling nauseated every day. How long will this go on?

Jasmine
3:09 am September 28th, 2015

I used to smoke weed so heavily that when I stopped I turned to black and mild for the comfort now I’m trying to stop and it’s so much harder to quit than the weed I’ve had someone hide my id and I’m about to just stop carrying money or cards with me because I feel like it’s getting out out control I’m smoking like 4 a day and I don’t know what to do I obsess over it and there are times I even stand outside the gfs strain asking people to buy it for me I’m ashamed I feel like I’ve given control to it I want to stop so bad because it hurts my throat and I don’t want my son seeing me do that I’m so scared I’m going to get cancer but every time I try to stop I fall right back into the habit I need help as soon as possible

Tyrone
11:27 pm February 6th, 2016

I’ve quit smoking black n molds after 10 years of smoking approximately one and a half boxes a day, it’s only been a week but I’m having slight stomach pains is that normal

Danny
5:47 am March 25th, 2016

I’m just three days into withdrawal from 10 black and mild cigars a day. I smoked for 13 months and I inhaled each time. I’m starting with the 21 mg nicotine patch for help. I found strong cigarettes have 1.2 mg of nicotine each. Black and mild have up to 275 mg of nicotine each!!! I find the cigar habit easier stop because of less hand to mouth and other ritualistic behavior. But the high level of nicotine is another story. Presently my cravings are very manageable. I drink hot tea, chew sugar free gum, take deep breaths when I feel a craving and I stay physically active and focused doing Spring yardwork outdoors. Indoors I find that drawing or carving small wood plaques keeps my hands and mind busy as I sip bottled water or satisfying hot sweet tea with cream. With the worst of it over and three smoke free days behind me I promise never to go back to smoking and have to repeat these three days again. I quit cigarette smoking in 1979 I smoked a pack plus for 14 years. I had no AIDS such as the patch. Cold turkey was very very hard. It took me three years to return to my otherwise normal self. I want to discourage anyone from nicotine gum. It’s very addictive and prolonged use will cause you to lose all your teeth. You only have to quit once. Never let the insanity of nicotine addiction suddenly plant the wild idea that you can have only one again. That’s called relapse and you will find yourself back again at full tobacco addiction. I want to live to see my hopes and dreams fulfilled. Tobacco use of any kind will sabotage all those dreams and separate me prematurely from my loved ones. My present drive is to surprise my beloved wife when she comes back from a sojourn back home in Paraguay that her husband has become a non smoker!!! God bless and assist all those who try to end this deadly addiction.

Rita
1:14 pm July 21st, 2016

I am 28 and been an off-on smoker since I was in high school. Started with curiosity about smoking in elementary school. My question is, what is happening to me? I can go a looooong time without a black and mild, I’m talking months and my last duration 2 years. But out of the blue, a black and mild is all I think about. It’s all I dream about. What is this??? I hate it! I even hate smoking but I all of a sudden feel like I can’t go today without. I dont understand and I’m feeling depressed among other feelings. What’s happening to me?

johnniel
8:47 am November 1st, 2016

I stopped smoking for 10 years and now I find myself smoking again but it’s not cigarettes it’s Black and Milds and I never knew they where addictive as a matter of fact I never knew they had nicotine in them until now doing my research!😶. All and all I am trying my best to stop (mentally) but now that I know there’s nicotine in them it is going to be just as hard! (I better go see my doctor for some medication)! ASAP!

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