Getting Through the First Week

Getting Through the First Week

For most people, the first week of quitting is the most difficult time.  This is a time when getting over both the psychological dependency on cigarettes and physical effects of nicotine withdrawal can feel overwhelming. You might feel anxious, depressed, impatient, tired, or even hostile. During this critical time, it may be very tempting to go back to old behaviors and use smoking to deal with these feelings.

Don’t worry, this stage in the process and the feelings you may have are only temporary.  Although you may have cravings to smoke weeks or even months after quitting, as more time goes by, these urges will diminish in strength and frequency. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms are more short-lived, and should only last a few days (or a couple weeks) at most.  When you put that into perspective with being smoke-free for the rest of your life, you know you can do it!

The symptoms you experience in the first week will vary from one person to another, depending on how much nicotine your body is used to, and how much you smoked.  Keep the tips below in mind to help you get through that important first week and set yourself up for success:

  • Remember that urges to smoke will come and go.  Try waiting it out for a few minutes and occupying your mind with something else. Use the list of 101 Things to Do Besides Smoking to get ideas for how to keep busy.
  • Remind yourself every day of why you are quitting.  Your motivations for quitting can powerful reminders for when you’re in the worst parts of the quitting process. This is when you need them most to keep you on tract. Revisit your motivations from time to time – see how you answered your questions to think about.
  • Write down your rationalizations. One way to help overcome cravings is to write down any rationalizations you may have for having a cigarette.  Rationalizing is trying to find a good reason to do something you know is wrong.  For example, “I’ll just have one cigarette today to get through this tough time,” or “you’ve got to die of something, might as well smoke.”  If you write down rationalizations as they come to mind, it will help you to see them for what they are: traps to get you back into your smoking habit.
  • Drink plenty of water.  Water cleanses and purifies your system while also giving you something to do with your hands.  When you’re fully hydrated, your urge to eat is reduced as you’re stomach is full with liquids.  This is a great tip if you’re concerned about weight gain. You can also drink herbal teas or fruit juices.
  • Take your mind off of a problem and come back to it later.  With the symptoms of withdrawal at their height, you may feel that the world is against you.  Remember that these feelings are only temporary.  It may be tempting to think that it was better when you smoked because you didn’t feel this way.  The truth is, these feelings will go away and once you’re past nicotine withdrawal, you are ready to feel even better than you ever did when you smoked.  
  • Change everything! In many ways the habitual part of smoking cigarettes can be tied into your daily routines – the first cigarette with coffee in the morning, the drive to work, the smoke breaks, the after dinner cigarette.  Think of ways to change everything so you can break free of the habit aspect of smoking.  This is just a short-term adjustment.  Once cigarettes are no longer a part of your life, you’ll go back to having different routines that you enjoy without smoking.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your friends and loved ones want to support you any way they can. Your doctor can also be a great asset to you in leaving cigarettes behind, and can direct you toward other resources for help.

Once you’ve gotten through the first week, you’ve passed a big milestone in the quitting process. While you may still find yourself dealing with urges and temptations to smoke, you will have the experience and success of your fist week behind you.  In the weeks that follow, stay focused and keep moving toward your goal!

Learn how to cope with triggers.

Your First Week Off Smokeless Tobacco

When you quit smokeless tobacco, your withdrawal symptoms will be strongest during the first week. After two weeks of not using smokeless tobacco, your body will be rid of the addicting nicotine and the worst part will be over. Soon, you will feel better than you ever did when you dipped or chewed. But in the meantime, know the side effects you will experience when quitting so you can better deal with them:

  • Craving smokeless tobacco — Since nicotine is addictive, you'll have cravings for smokeless tobacco. Try waiting it out. Each urge to use will usually last only three to five minutes. Deep breathing and exercise help you feel better right away.
  • Feeling irritable, tense, restless or edgy — You're going through nicotine withdrawal. Try some form of exercise. Ask others to be patient.
  • Feeling hungry or having a desire for sweets — People do sometimes experience weight gain when they stop using tobacco. If you get hungry, drink fruit juices or eat a low calorie snack. Drink a lot of water.
  • Constipation/irregularity — Add fiber to your diet, like whole grain breads and cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Smoking Fact

Smokeless tobacco is a known cause of mouth cancer, pancreatic cancer, leukoplakia (white sores in the mouth that can lead to cancer), receding gums and bone loss around the roots of the teeth.