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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.
  • Sad or depressed.
  • Hungrier than usual.

People going through withdrawal may find it hard to:

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

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually begin about 24 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. The craving for cigarettes and 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.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn Hughes, MD - Psychiatry
Last RevisedJuly 6, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 06, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.