Skip to content

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size

Understanding Nicotine Withdrawal -- Treatment

Before talking about nicotine withdrawal, you must want to stop smoking. Wanting to stop will greatly enhance your chances of successfully remaining tobacco free.

To help you quit, a combination of drugs and behavior-modification programs can be effective. Your doctor can offer both nicotine and non-nicotine medications. Many over-the-counter nicotine replacement products are available, including patches, lozenges, and gum. Your doctor can also prescribe a nasal spray or an oral inhaler.

Zyban, also known as the antidepressant buproprion (Wellbutrin), may be effective. It can be taken along with nicotine replacement.

Another prescription medication, varenicline (Chantix), works by blocking the pleasant effects of nicotine on the brain. The short-term and long-term effectiveness of Chantix exceeded that of bupropionin in at least one study. Before starting this drug, let your doctor know if you have any history of heart disease or mental illness. Chantix may cause changes in behavior or depression.

Your doctor also may recommend a smoking (or other tobacco-use) cessation program.

Home Remedies for Nicotine Withdrawal

Most tobacco cessation programs recommend the following steps to help you quit and ease the unpleasantness of nicotine withdrawal:

  • Analyze your habit for a few weeks. Keep a log of when, where, and why you use tobacco.
  • List the reasons you want to quit.
  • Set a "quit" date and stick to it.
  • Find substitutes -- sugarless gum to chew or a pen or pencil to hold -- and change your routines to avoid triggering a desire for tobacco.
  • Reward your resolve. Treat yourself with the money you would have spent on tobacco.
  • Enjoy food and eat as much low-calorie food as you want during withdrawal.
  • Never let a relapse deter you from continuing efforts to quit. Smokers who become former smokers try an average of six times before they quit for good.
  • Don’t buy cigarettes!


How Can I Prevent Nicotine Withdrawal?

If you're ready to stop smoking, talk to your health care professional about safe ways to quit while controlling your nicotine cravings.

Educate your children about the dangers of smoking so they won't start in the first place. Most tobacco users start in their teens because of peer pressure, a need to rebel, or a desire to appear more mature.

Children of tobacco users are more likely to be users because they view tobacco use as acceptable. If you use tobacco and you're serious about preventing your children from doing so, provide the best example by quitting.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Lisa B. Bernstein, MD on March 18, 2015

Today on WebMD

hands breaking a cigarette
Is quitting cold turkey an effective method?
14 tips to get you through the first hard days.
smoking man
Surprising impacts of tobacco on the body.
cigarette smoke
What happens when you kick the habit?

Filtered cigarettes
an array of e cigarettes
human heart
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms

man smoking cigarette
no smoking sign
Woman ashing cigarette in ashtray
chain watch