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Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms After Quitting Smoking

Updated on October 3, 2015

I am writing and publishing this article the day after the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout that took place on Thursday, November 18, 2010. I will tell you right off that after all the promoting I did and the awareness and excitement that I created regarding the Great American Smokeout there was nothing exciting about the day when it finally arrived as you can imagine when you read about the withdrawal symptoms we went through below.

The last Great American Smokeout that I participated in was in November 2006, and at that time, I smoked around a pack a day of Newports. For those who don't know, Newports are probably the strongest and most destructive (and for sure the most expensive) menthol cigarette that you can smoke. While I remember that experience being very uncomfortable, I don't vividly remember the withdrawal symptoms that I must have experienced at that time; however, I do still vividly remember what I experienced and observed yesterday. My oh my, was it ever uncomfortable!

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The First 24 Hours

  • Time Stands Still - I was talking to a girlfriend and fellow Great American Smokeout participant on the telephone the morning of, and I asked her what time it was. She replied, "7:56". We went on talking about different things for quite some time, and after a bit I told her that I should probably stop wasting time on the phone and get to moving around and handling my daily business. Again, I asked her what time it was. She replied, "8:01". We both kinda giggled because only five minutes had passed. I figured that I could talk a bit longer since it was still so early, so we continued on talking for quite some time more. Finally, I mentioned that I really should get to moving around now because the day must be wasting away. "Sure is", she said, "it's now 8:06". Oh my! We howled over that one, but it seemed to hold true for the rest of the day. By about 8:00pm, I was pretty sure the Great American Smokeout had lasted a week instead of only a day!
  • Tingly Mouth and Face - My mouth and face felt "tingly" pretty much all day long. I think this was the most uncomfortable part of the day for me all together. It is hard to concentrate on anything else when your mouth and face is telling you - very loudly - to give it a cigarette!

  • Headache - I started getting a headache early on in the day. I quickly took an Aleve, which seemed to take care of the headache for the rest of the day.
  • Shakes - I didn't personally experience shakes, but I observed them in my brother. His hands were shaking more and more as the day went on.
  • Irratibility - The irritability factor started out mild in the morning and progressed as the day went on. By the time evening time arrived, I was highly irritable. I excused myself and went to bed early that evening.
  • Profuse sweating - During the day, I had several stretches of time where I was profusely sweating even though I was dressed comfortably in shorts and a tank top. My hair was up off of my neck, and the temperature was not such that I should have been sweating like I did. My girlfriend said that she experienced the same thing, and she is very tiny and usually always cold!
  • Chills - There were several times throughout the day (when I wasn't sweating) that I caught a severe flu-like chill.


The Next 24 Hours

By the end of the Great American Smokeout, all of my closest supporters, cheerleaders, and fellow participants had picked the cigarettes back up. I am pretty sure that we would all agree that quitting smoking is one of the most uncomfortable experiences any of us have ever had in our lives - and we are all 30+ with a large variety of uncomfortable experiences under our belts. I am so proud of all of them - and thankful - for their participation and support, but at the same time, I was so disappointed and discouraged to have to continue this trek on my own. Here is what I experienced in the next 24 hours:

  • Tingly mouth and face - I am not sure how else to describe this sensation. It is like my entire face and mouth is just begging and screaming for a cigarette. While the "tingles" are not as "tingly" in the "next 24 hours", they are still there and are still quite annoying and rather impossible to ignore.
  • Healing and Recovery - I can already tell that I am breathing better in less than 48 hours! The chronic sore throat that has plagued me for the past few months is already gone! I can already smell (and taste) things better, and the odor of my body and hair has drastically improved! My sinuses already feel like they are clearing up!
  • Unbelievable Psychological Warfare - The "next 24 hours" have been filled with an unbelievable psychological warfare. While the physical symptoms do still exist, they are rapidly fading, and my body already feels better. The hardest thing to control and ignore is what is going on in my own head! I do not ever remember reading or hearing about anyone sobbing uncontrollably after quitting smoking. However, about 35 hours into my quitting smoking adventure, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness, and I began sobbing uncontrollably. I was out job hunting, and I had to pull the car over because I could not even see to drive. While sitting on the side of the road sobbing, I was screaming (curse words) and pounding my steering wheel wishing all of this "stuff" would just go away. Three hours later, still sobbing, I regret to report that I smoked the first cigarette I had smoked in 38 hours! At the time of publishing this hub, I had smoked one more in addition to that.

What Now?

So, I went 38 long excruciating hours without smoking...and then I smoked...twice. So, what now? Do I keep smoking? Do I give up trying to quit smoking? Um, NO! I will cry, cry some more, regroup, and try again. I WILL quit smoking because I want to feel better. I WILL quit smoking because I want to smell better. I WILL quit smoking because I don't want to take anymore years from my own life. I WILL quit smoking because somewhere inside of me is the will and strength to do so! I WILL find that place in my mind where I need to be to conquer this horrible vice, this nasty addiction.

Blessings to all of my supporters who are cheering me on my quitting smoking journey. To all of you who have already found the will to quit smoking, I admire you so much...please say a prayer for me! YES, I CAN AND I WILL QUIT SMOKING!


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    • tiffany delite profile image

      tiffany delite 7 years ago from united states

      I hope you all will read my latest blog...blessings!!

    • tiffany delite profile image

      tiffany delite 7 years ago from united states

      @QudsiaP1...thank you! still trying...hope to publish another hub very soon! blessings!

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 7 years ago

      What a wonderful attempt, a very well written hub.

    • tiffany delite profile image

      tiffany delite 7 years ago from united states

      @coming of age...thanks so much for your encouragement and support (not to mention the vote) =) i must admit that it is hard on me as a "perfectionist" (not to mention somewhat embarrassing) - especially since i announced to the world that i was quitting lol - to not have just put the smokes down and walked completely away from them for good, but my mind just wasn't ready to let completely go. i'm working on that.

      i will have to agree with you that aversion is the key. i do really good when i am away from the house and out and about staying busy (because i quit carrying my smokes outside of the house with me weeks before the smokeout), but when i am home, i really struggle. i am praying for strength everyday, and i feel like today was a fairly good day (4 ultra light cigarettes), but what is even better than that is that i noticed there were several times throughout the day that i didn't think about, that feels goooooood! it was so mentally exhausting at first because it seemed like every second of the day i was trying to convince myself not to smoke! now, at least my mind gets moments where we aren't thinking about it!

      i know that i WILL kick this habit! i AM kicking it! i have saved $20 dollars since the day of the great american smokeout because of not smoking...(as much). i plan to make that amount grow and grow and grow!! i plan to make another blog soon because i already feel so much better and i haven't even kicked the habit all the way yet!! the better i feel, the stronger i feel, and the less i want the cigs!

      thanks again for the encouragement and support!! blessings!

    • tiffany delite profile image

      tiffany delite 7 years ago from united states are right. filthy, nasty habit and absolutely not cool to smoke!! i'm really glad that most public places are non-smoking because it helps so much now that i am trying to quit! blessings!

    • Coming of Age profile image

      Coming of Age 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains


      Don't be hard on yourself, just shake the dust off of your feet and stop again.

      Aversion is the key, and even after a year and a half I still have to give myself a healthy dose of it every once in awhile. Until I learned to despise the death, the industry that pushes it, and the taste, smell etc. I was not able to rip that monkey from my back.

      I wish I could tell you that after 2 years without a cigarette, or 5, or even 10 years, you will never crave one again, but that isn't the fact. The only truth is that the craving gets less frequent, but all former smokers are still tempted once in awhile, even after twenty years.

      All you can worry about is today. Just don't smoke in the next ten minutes, not in the next hour, the next 6 hours, while you drive home from work, not while you cook dinner,or watch evening television, not before getting the kids ready for bed, not before you go to bed...TaDah, didn't smoke today! Now in the morning when you wake up you have another 8 hours smoke free, and like an infinite loop just repeat by not smoking today.

      Soon you will go a full day without the thought of a cancer stick crossing through the grey matter, then a week, it's simple, you can do it, and as long as you want a smoke free life, you will have it.

      I voted your hub up for honesty, which is (useful) for others battling the habit.

    • profile image

      Toronto condos 7 years ago

      Nasty habit, but finally it seems that it is not cool to smoke. Gone are the times when hollywood actually long movies were smoking adverts

    • tiffany delite profile image

      tiffany delite 7 years ago from united states

      @tab...thank you so so much. i just can't stop! i just want it to be easy and not hurt!! not hurt my body and not hurt my mind...fat chance at that, huh? i know that with people like you in my life cheering me on that i will be successful, and i want you to know that i am so proud of you because this is one hard @$$ thing to do!! and yesssss i will quit. i will! thanks tab!

    • profile image

      Tab 7 years ago

      They say the 1st 3 weeks are the hardest then after that it gets easier. You know you want to quit and you will quit. It took me 3 different times before I was finally able to quit completely. Don't give up just keep trying. I believe in you. You can do it.