Coping with Nicotine Withdrawal and Preventing Relapse

Smoking and COVID-19

Smoking increases your risk of respiratory infections and pneumonia, as well as severe illness from COVID-19. If you are interested in quitting, or need support managing cravings and staying comfortable while indoors, help is available:

  • Visit the New York State Smokers' Quitline, or call 866-NY-QUITS (866-697-8487), to apply for a free starter kit of nicotine medications and to talk to a quit coach.
  • Call your doctor's office to see if they have telehealth or other remote visit options currently available.
  • Talk to a local pharmacist for advice, including about over-the-counter medicine options.
  • See below for more tips and information.

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.

For more information on quitting smoking, see the NYC Quits Kit Guide (PDF). This brochure includes information in Spanish, Chinese and Russian.
Other Languages: Français

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

Nicotine replacement medications (the patch, gum, lozenge, inhaler and nasal spray) or other tobacco-treatment medications, like Zyban® or Wellbutrin®(bupropion) or Chantix®(varenicline), 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.

  • Learn about the benefits of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) by watching Be Free with NRT.

Tips for Coping with Nicotine Withdrawl

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