Coping with Nicotine Withdrawal

New Resource: Be Free with Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) Toolkit

More places in New York City are becoming smoke-free. Even if you are not ready to quit, consider nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to help you manage nicotine withdrawal symptoms or cravings when in situations where you can’t smoke. A kit of new resources has been developed to support people and providers with using NRT.

Resources for Individuals

Resources for Health Care, Social Service and Housing Providers

When you are trying to quit smoking or vaping, it is important to learn healthy strategies to help you manage stress, triggers and withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Many people have withdrawal symptoms when they stop smoking or vaping, whether they are trying to quit or just stay smoke-free in indoor or public spaces where smoking is not allowed. Depending on how much you smoke or vape, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Increased appetite/weight gain
  • Depressed mood
  • Insomnia/sleep problems
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restlessness

Tobacco-treatment medications, including nicotine replacement therapy (the patch, gum, lozenge, inhaler and nasal spray), bupropion SR (Zyban® or Wellbutrin®) or varenicline (Chantix®), can help you prevent withdrawal symptoms. These medications can help you stay tobacco-free when you need or want to be, whether or not you want to quit. Most health insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover these medications to help you stay tobacco-free.

E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are not FDA-approved tobacco treatment medications or devices, so they are not covered by health insurance plans. They also expose people using them and those nearby to harmful chemicals.

To better understand your relationship with tobacco, take this quiz
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Tips for Coping with Nicotine Withdrawal

Ready to Quit? Make It Easier

  • Find your reasons. Make a list of reasons for quitting and read it often.

  • Pick a quit date. Choose a day that works for you and gives you time to prepare. Throw out all your cigarettes beforehand, and get rid of ashtrays and lighters.

  • Get support and encouragement. Tell your family, friends and co-workers that you are quitting and ask for their support.

  • Identify and avoid triggers. Alcohol, coffee, stress and being around others who smoke can all trigger cravings. Notice what makes you crave smoking and avoid those situations or change your routine.

  • Reduce caffeine intake. Cutting down your caffeine intake by at least half when you quit smoking can help you avoid withdrawal symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating, anxiety and restlessness.

  • Keep trying. It often takes multiple tries to quit smoking, so do not be discouraged to try again. You have not failed — you learned more about your triggers. Throw out your cigarettes and start again.

More Information