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Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

How to cope with nicotine withdrawal symptoms


Many people who start smoking again do it because they feel they can’t cope with the cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The cravings happen because your body misses its regular hits of nicotine.

The first few days can be hard, but the symptoms are a good sign that the body is starting to recover. As long as you do not have a single puff of a cigarette these will get much easier and most will disappear within four weeks.​

The most effective way to tackle cravings is with a combination of licensed medication such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and behavioural support from Help2Quit trained stop smoking advisers.

Symptoms What’s happening? How to cope
Intense desire to smoke Your brain is missing the nicotine fix Remember each craving only lasts six minutes. It will get easier so long as you do not have even a puff of a cigarette
Coughing Your lungs are clearing of tar This will improve quite quickly. Warm drinks will help
Hunger Your metabolism is changing, food tastes better since quitting Eat fruit and vegetables, chew sugarfree gum and drink lots of water
Constipation  Your body is returning to normal and it will settle down Drink lots of water, eat fresh fruit and veg and exercise. If it persists try over-the-counter products, or see a healthcare professional
Trouble sleeping Nicotine is leaving the body Cut down on tea and coffee. Lasts about two to three​ weeks
Dizziness More oxygen and less carbon monoxide is going to the brain Persevere: this should stop after a few days
Mood swings, poor concentration, irritability and restlessness Body is craving nicotine Signs of nicotine withdrawal will pass. Warn family and friends, ask for support
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