Nicotine withdrawal may be tough to deal with. But, it’s temporary. Knowing what symptoms to expect, using NRT products, and finding distractions can help you cope with nicotine withdrawal.

Nicotine is a highly addictive product that’s naturally found in tobacco leaves.

When you use tobacco products, your body develops a dependence on nicotine. This means your body needs a certain level of it to function.

Quitting nicotine can be difficult because it may cause physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms. This is known as withdrawal.

Keep reading to learn more about how to cope with nicotine withdrawal.

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Once you stop using tobacco products, your body will begin to feel benefits within 20 minutes.

However, this won’t be apparent because you may begin to feel symptoms of withdrawal, such as:

Although this is totally normal, it may be difficult.

Knowing what to expect after you stop smoking can help you prepare for this tough period.

Numerous kinds of smoking cessation aids can help you manage withdrawal. These are known as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products and include:

NRTs provide your body with small amounts of nicotine. This helps reduce cravings and manage your symptoms of withdrawal. The idea is to help you gradually decrease your nicotine intake until you don’t need it anymore.

You’re up to 60% more likely to quit smoking cigarettes if you use NRTs, according to a 2018 review of nearly 65,000 people who smoke.

You can also speak with a healthcare professional about prescription medications for smoking cessation, such as varenicline (Chantix).

Bupropion (Zyban) is another prescription drug used for smoking cessation purposes. However, it’s important to note that another formulation of bupropion recognized by the brand name Wellbutrin is used for depression.

No matter how you do it, you’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms during your smoking cessation journey.

These symptoms may arise from one of three types of triggers, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Pattern triggers

These triggers are activities or habits that you associate with smoking. For example:

  • work or study breaks
  • early in the morning or before bed
  • drinking alcohol, coffee, or tea
  • driving
  • watching TV

These may trigger withdrawal symptoms and increase your craving for nicotine. However, trying to break these patterns with the following actions may help you cope:

  • eat hard foods like carrots, celery, or apples to keep your mouth busy
  • chew gum, hard candy, or a toothpick to replace a cigarette
  • squeeze a stress ball or use a fidget toy to keep your hands busy
  • change your routine, such as walking on your work break or having coffee at a different time

Emotional triggers

Some emotions may trigger withdrawal symptoms because you’re used to having nicotine to cope with them. Emotions may range from happiness to stress, anxiety, and depression.

The following activities may help you control your emotions to reduce withdrawal symptoms:

Social triggers

These types of triggers refer to social occasions or spaces where you’re used to smoking, or other people smoke. Some common places include bars and restaurants, concerts, or work.

It’s best to avoid these spaces for the first few weeks after quitting nicotine to prevent withdrawal symptoms. This may be hard, especially if your friends and family smoke.

The NCI also recommends the following tips to help you cope with social triggers:

  • place a “No Smoking” sign on your door
  • politely leave a group if anyone starts to smoke
  • tell your friends and family that you’re trying to quit

Establishing a support network is important to help you cope with withdrawal symptoms.

Speak with your family and friends about how you’re feeling. There are things they can do to help you cope, such as:

  • help you find distractions
  • help you manage triggers
  • spend time with you
  • check in on you
  • help make your home smoke-free

It’s also important to be honest with them. Let them know if you’re making any rationalizations to have a cigarette. They can hold you accountable in a positive way for your decision to quit, such as by reminding you of the progress you’ve made so far.

Other support networks include:

Sometimes it’s easier to reach out to people who are not in your immediate social network or to connect with people living with similar withdrawal symptoms as you. Connect with others at

You can also phone the National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitlines at 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) for free resources and extra support.

Whether it’s one day, week, month, or year, it’s important to reward yourself when you reach your goals.

Reflect on your smoking cessation journey. Do you feel physically and mentally better? Have you saved money? This can help you feel empowered the next time you’re experiencing symptoms of withdrawal.

How long does nicotine withdrawal last?

Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are temporary. According to the NCI, the worst period is the first week after ceasing nicotine, with symptoms peaking at 3 days. Then, symptoms get better for the first month. However, everyone experiences different types and severities of symptoms.

Is it better to wean off nicotine or quit cold turkey?

The authors of a 2021 review that included 21,542 people found that people who quit smoking cold turkey had a higher chance of remaining smoke-free than those who weaned off gradually. That said, you may feel withdrawal symptoms more acutely but for a shorter period of time if you quit abruptly.

How bad is withdrawal from vaping?

When you quit vaping, you may experience similar withdrawal symptoms to cigarette cessation. This is because your body has become dependent on nicotine, the highly addictive substance found in many tobacco and smoking products.

Quitting using products like cigarettes or vapes that contain nicotine may be difficult because of the withdrawal symptoms. However, there are many different ways to cope. These may include building a support network, exercising, finding new hobbies, and using NRTs.