Health A-Z

Nicotine Withdrawal

Clinical Definition

Nicotine withdrawal occurs when someone dependent on nicotine ceases tobacco use. Nicotine is possibly as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms may include irritability, anxiety, concentration difficulties, insomnia and increased appetite and are linked with the level and extent of tobacco use. To relieve withdrawal symptoms medications can be prescribed.

In Our Own Words

Nicotine withdrawal is the reaction of the body after tobacco use is stopped. Nicotine can have many different effects, including decreasing the appetite, boosting mood and perhaps relieving minor depression, creating more saliva, phlegm, and intestinal activity, increasing heart rate and blood pressure and stimulating memory. Habitual smokers become dependent on nicotine, and withdrawal symptoms can set in within three hours after last tobacco use.

These can include anxiety, difficulty concentrating, insomnia and increased appetite, Symptoms are likely to be worse for those who have smoked the greatest number of cigarettes a day or those who have smoked for many years. After quitting  ”cold turkey,” withdrawal symptoms are likely to peak two or three days after the last tobacco use. Medications can help. Nicotine replacement therapy and a smoking cessation program may also help quitters feel better.

Symptoms and Side Effects

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Increase in appetite
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