Smoking: Coping with Withdrawal and Preventing Relapse

When you are trying to quit smoking, 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. These symptoms get better over time. Depending on how much you used to smoke, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms for four to six weeks:

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

Nicotine replacement therapy, such as the nicotine patch or gum, or other quit-smoking medications, like bupropion or Chantix©, can help prevent withdrawal symptoms and relapse. Most health insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover services to help you quit.

Make Quitting 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.

Tips for Coping

More Information