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Nicotine Withdrawal

When people use tobacco products on a regular basis, their bodies develop a need for nicotine. If they don't get nicotine, they start having nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms and cravings for nicotine vary from person to person. They often depend on how much nicotine a person is used to getting. The more nicotine the body is used to, the more severe symptoms are likely to be.

Symptoms of withdrawal include feeling:

  • Irritated.
  • Angry.
  • Anxious.
  • Restless.
  • Hungrier than usual.

People going through withdrawal may find it hard to:

  • Concentrate.
  • Sleep.
  • Cope with cravings.
  • Deal with stress.

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually begin about 12 hours after a person quits smoking or using tobacco products. Symptoms are the worst in the first week or so after the person quits. The average length of time a person deals with withdrawal symptoms is 2 to 3 weeks. But for some smokers, withdrawal can last longer. The craving for cigarettes and an increased appetite can last for months.

Nicotine replacement products can reduce withdrawal symptoms when used by people who are quitting. Use of quit-smoking medicines, counseling or support groups, a nutritious diet, and regular exercise may also help.

Current as of: August 15, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & John Hughes, MD - Psychiatry

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