be “I quit smoking, why do I feel worse?”
“I quit smoking, why do I feel worse?”
by admin | January 10, 2023 | Lets Be Aware | 2 comments

“I quit smoking, why do I feel worse?”

One fine day you make the life-transforming decision to quit smoking. You could not have made a better decision for your health – and the health of others around you. But instead of feeling on top of the world about the significant pivot you have made, you feel sick, miserable, and down in the dumps. Why does this happen?

This is because the nicotine in tobacco is highly addictive. When you give up smoking, you may not realize that you’ll experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms for quite a while, even after levels of residual nicotine in your body have decreased substantially.

If you have been used to smoking for a long time, you get used to having a certain level of nicotine in your body. After you quit, cravings develop when your body wants that nicotine. This may occur long after the body is no longer addicted to smoking. The cravings may take several physically and mentally distressing forms, varying from person to person.

Read our list of possible withdrawal symptoms below … and if this is how you feel after you’ve ended the smoking habit, it will help you to know that such symptoms do subside over time. To assist yourself during this period, you must know what to expect, why it happens, and what you can do.


You deserve congratulations, so give yourself some applause

According to research facts published by CDC.gov, 55.1% of adult smokers say that they make a quitting attempt every year. But only 7.5% of adult smokers successfully discontinue smoking each year. Many smokers make several attempts to cease, but they are unsuccessful … unless they get adequate support and counseling during the process.

If you have managed to halt smoking, you have already crossed a significant hurdle. If it doesn’t yet feel like a celebration, and unpleasant aches and angst beset you, you need to keep the faith that with time, you will be rid of the after-effects of discontinuing smoking.


How long does nicotine stay in your system, and what’s the withdrawal timeline?

According to the National Cancer Institute, USA., here is what to expect:


  • Nicotine withdrawal will begin 2-3 hours after your last cigarette.
  • Withdrawal symptoms are strongest 1-4 days after quitting and can last for 2-4 weeks, reducing in intensity during this period.
  • After about a month, the withdrawal symptoms will dissipate entirely for most people.
  • However, while physical withdrawal symptoms will resolve for most people, the psychological symptoms may continue.
  • People who quit cold turkey will experience worse withdrawal symptoms than those with a dedicated treatment plan that combines counseling, behavioral therapy, and Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).


What usually happens in the withdrawal period? Here’s a medically reviewed explanation by Smoke Free Clinic, Australia:

“Once nicotine enters the bloodstream, it is broken down by enzymes in the liver to form cotinine. Generally, nicotine can usually be detected in the blood for 1-3 days after your last cigarette. Cotinine can be found in the blood for up to 10 days. Both nicotine and cotinine can take up to 4 days to be cleared from your saliva, but cotinine to be detected in the urine for anywhere between 4 days and 3 weeks after your last cigarette, depending on how much nicotine you have been exposed to.”


How can non-smoking help your overall health and especially your heart?

Smoking can add many complications to those suffering from ailments like obesity, cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension – along with other hereditary factors. All these ailments can all have a multiplicative effect on the heart.

Those who quit smoking will also have to keep monitoring all these factors:

  • Those with a propensity for weight gain will need both prevention of obesity and obesity management through healthy eating and exercise.
  • Those with high blood sugar levels can manifest Type 1 diabetes symptoms or Type 2 diabetes symptoms, each with its complications and needing a different line of treatment.
  • High blood pressure can be due to many hypertension causes, and hypertension symptoms like headaches or palpitations will need to be identified and alleviated with medication.
  • Cholesterol increase can require responses to reduce bad cholesterol by consuming foods that lower cholesterol fast.


The classic withdrawal symptoms after quitting smoking and how to handle them

One thing to remember is that smoking cessation can be uncomfortable, but, according to Terry Martin, writing in Very Well Mind, nicotine withdrawal cannot hurt you – unless you give in and have another cigarette. Here’s what to expect after quitting – and the ways to handle each of these symptoms:


1. Having recurring urges or cravings to smoke once again

If you’ve previously had triggers that made you want to smoke, you have to try and avoid them. Triggers could include seeing others smoke, always smoking when having coffee, smoking before bedtime, etc. Stay wary at these times.


2. Finding it very difficult to focus or concentrate for long

Your attention span may be affected, and you may not be able to engage in any one activity for an extended period of time. So, simply alternate activities. After short-duration mental activities, do some physical jobs, and vice versa.



“Finding it very difficult to focus or concentrate for long”



3. Feeling ill-tempered, upset, and irritated with others

Remind yourself that these feelings are associated with nicotine withdrawal. Don’t take out your feelings on others. Also, take some deep breaths and get engrossed with activities like reading a book, watching TV, listening to music – or just doing some chores.


4. Having sudden high-energy bouts when you feel restive

The nicotine withdrawal from your body can happen in spurts that give some patches of energy you don’t know what to do with. It could make you itch for something physical to do. At such times, it’s great to build in some simple exercise regimes to give your excess energy an outlet.


5. Suffering from insomnia or disturbed sleep for days together

According to Henry Ford Health, “As your body acclimates to functioning without nicotine, you may have sleepless nights … but the issue will subside within a few weeks.” Avoid using digital devices before bedtime, and drink warm, calming herbal teas. Listen to soothing music. Most importantly, don’t try too hard to sleep. Just plan on taking bodily rest and let sleep drift in naturally.



“Suffering from insomnia or disturbed sleep for days together”



6. Frequently feeling hungry and adding a lot of body weight

According to WebMD, smoking is an unhealthy appetite suppressant, so you will likely regain hunger pangs when you quit. Have some stocks of healthful bites handy, like nuts, whole grain cereal bars, or fresh fruits, to quell that hunger. Don’t get addicted to fast foods and snacks that will only add weight.


7. Feeling unhappy, depressed, anxious, and low on morale

Talking to people you trust will be very useful. Try a therapist if you don’t have family or friends you want to talk to about how you feel. Another great way to overcome low-mood moments is to get physical. You can rev up your energy if you get moving or learn to dance or walk to upbeat music.


In summary

Remember that you have already taken the major step of quitting smoking. The rest is far less serious to deal with. You can expect to feel a bit overwhelmed with mental and physical withdrawal events, but these are all bound to wane with every passing day. So stay positive. Stay heart-healthy. Be a Zinda Dil.




  1. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC). “Smoking Cessation: Fast Facts.” Accessed: January 12, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/cessation/smoking-cessation-fast-facts/index.html
  2. National Cancer Institute (USA). “Handling Nicotine Withdrawal and Triggers When You Decide To Quit Tobacco.” Accessed: January 12, 2023. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/withdrawal-fact-sheet
  3. Smoke Free Clinic, Australia. “I Quit Smoking… Why Do I Feel Worse?” Accessed: January 12, 2023. https://smokefreeclinic.com.au/articles/i-quit-smoking-why-do-i-feel-worse/
  4. Martin, Terry. Very Well Mind. “7 Common Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms.” Accessed: January 12, 2023. https://www.verywellmind.com/common-signs-of-nicotine-withdrawal-2824763
  5. Henry Ford Health. “The Link Between Sleep And Nicotine.” Accessed: January 12, 2023. https://www.henryford.com/blog/2018/03/connection-between-sleep-nicotine
  6. WebMD. “What is Nicotine Withdrawal?” Accessed: January 12, 2023.


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