Now that I've quit smoking...
October 25, 2005 8:39 PM   Subscribe

I guess this is something of a follow-up to my last question: I haven't had a cigarette in about 7 days. Nor have I ingested nicotine from any other source.

I'm not really having any cravings and I certainly don't have any desire to smoke (the thought of it kind of makes me sick. Even the smell makes my stomach churn a little). Nevertheless, I still feel crappy. I've been having trouble concentrating, feeling awake, and staying asleep. I also have this constant low-level headache. My skin feels kind of crawly, too.

I guess what I'd like to know is:
Was this similar to your experience of quitting smoking?
How long did it take for you to feel normal again?
I will feel normal again, right?

If it matters, I went from smoking close to two packs a day to not smoking at all, over night.

The good news is that the excessive irritability has almost entirely worn off. I'm hardly even grumpy anymore.
posted by Jon-o to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
normal. totally.

every person is different, but I had these feelings of unease for a few weeks. It also helped to completely change my routine, so that the usual triggers to smoke would no longer be there

hang in there Jon-o. One week is a great start - you've gone through the worst part, the rest will be easier.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:44 PM on October 25, 2005

that's a lot of nicotine withdrawal, my friend. Forty cigarettes to zero is going to be hard for your body to adjust to.

Are you sure you don't want to try nicotine replacement therapy? I quit with the lozenge and it really helped. After four weeks of gradually decreasing my lozenge intake, I felt no withdrawal symptoms and I didn't gain any weight. Previous attempts at cold turkey resulted in some of the symptoms you describe (headaches, crawliness--general crappiness) and especially weight gain--which only drove me back to smoking.

In any case, you will definitely feel better soon, as long as you stay quit. It shouldn't take too much longer for your body to adapt. And for me, being cigarette-free was a rather exhilarating feeling (no more guilt!) which compensated for other things, I think.
posted by chelseagirl at 8:53 PM on October 25, 2005

Very normal - don't touch nicotine replacements, tough it out. Every time I tried the gum or the patch or zyban I failed. I only succeeded when I quit cold turkey, determined to do it at all costs. The sense of accomplishment is much higher too, if you ask me. Nicotine replacements all felt like suckling at a teat (even moreso than cigarettes). I felt bad for maybe a week or two, then just sort of forgot about cigarettes and feeling bad altogether. Good luck!
posted by loquax at 9:04 PM on October 25, 2005

What kept me going was seeing a statistic which claimed 90% of all quitters had at least one cigarette in the next year. To hell with 90%- I wanted to be an exception! It's been seven months and I've missed 'em maybe six times.

Gum helped.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 9:20 PM on October 25, 2005

Stick with it man, it can only get easier from here...I might recommend not getting drunk for a time, all the smokers I know have a huge trigger in drinking. I've seen many a cessation-attemptee get crushed under the weight of alcohol-soaked cravings. If you do get drunk, make sure to plan it out beforehand so that you will not have access to cigarettes.
posted by baphomet at 9:25 PM on October 25, 2005

I've tried before and have had similar symptoms.

I just hope that the next time I try to stop (when I finish this &(*&%(&$#%(%# MSc bull&*&) my symptoms are as manageable as yours.

Stick with it and good luck!
posted by PurplePorpoise at 9:55 PM on October 25, 2005

Sounds like you've pretty much quit. Just two more weeks and the nicotine is out of your system. After that, it's all in your mind. Your body still craves nicotine right now, so naturally it's a little out of wack.

And you don't have to think about "toughing it out" - remember there's nothing gained from the nasty things. Take pleasure in not smoking. It really is an easy thing to do - or at least it's alot easier than everyone - including the quit-nicotine companies - will have you think.

And don't get caught up with the myths of quitting - you have to suck on something, you will gain weight, the smell makes you miss it, you need to gradually decline your intake - it's all bullshit. And all up to you.

It's sounds like you really don't need any of the above advice - just hang in - you'll thank yourself.
posted by hellbient at 10:16 PM on October 25, 2005

Normal. The worst symptoms seem to set in 2 days after quitting and last about a week to ten days.

I have not been able to stay quit yet. Every time after a couple months for no good reason I get an almost insane urge to smoke again, when I least expect it.

But maybe that part's just me.
posted by falconred at 10:55 PM on October 25, 2005

It takes a couple weeks. You're over the hard part, though.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:56 PM on October 25, 2005

As Mark Twain said, "Quitting is easy - I've done it a thousand times" (paraphrased).

I started and stopped smoking dozens of times, but finally kicked the habit earlier this year. I was working in an office (outside the US) where all the secretaries smoked inside all day long. At first, I thought it was nice to be able to smoke at my desk, but pretty soon the smoke being all around me made me feel sick.

Several months going on, I occassionally see someone smoking and want a cigarette (I had been a smoker for nearly 15 years), but then I realize that I don't really want a cigarette except out of habit. I don't know if that is any encouragement for you, but for me, the big mental leap was that as nice as it seems like it would be to have a cigarette, it doesn't make the beer/coffee-break/moment-away-from-work any nicer, but only makes me feel nasty.
posted by BigBrownBear at 1:31 AM on October 26, 2005

What you are feeling is completely normal.

If you want it to go away faster, I suggest hitting the gym. Aerobic exercise and weight-training both did wonders towards making me feel somewhat normal.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:54 AM on October 26, 2005

Congrats. Drink LOTS of water.
posted by terrapin at 5:11 AM on October 26, 2005

Well, I'm in the same boat as you, except I don't feel the same degree of symptoms that you do. It's been a bit more than a week since I finished the last pack and didn't bother to get another.

If I had one recommendation, I'd say that you should quit when you're sick. Seriously. I've had a mild flu followed by a cold for the last week and a half and that does wonders for making you not want to smoke. I find I miss the act more than the smoke, if that makes sense. Now I take a break and wash a few dishes instead of standing around outside (but I work from home, so I have that opportunity).
posted by Dipsomaniac at 5:18 AM on October 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

It took me about 2 weeks to get over the worst of it - After that I was much more comfortable and starting to really enjoy things like a renewed sense of smell. I smoked about a pack and a half a day when I quit.
posted by soplerfo at 5:37 AM on October 26, 2005

You're doing great. Just keep going. As mentioned, I quit when I had a bad case of the flu, plus my parents were visiting so I figured that I was already half-dead and half-crazy and knew from experience that quiting cigarettes would make me temporarily feel crazy, so I thought I may as well combine all the craziness at once. It worked. What worked for me was asking myself, "How bad is this?" constantly. The cravings - the missing - the gestalt of not smoking was never really more than like an itch that I couldn't scratch and which soon went away. I knew that I could handle that small irritation. Otherwise, you are still in withdrawal, so your symptoms are natural. Hang in there. It's worth it! (16 years smokefree!)
posted by Hobgoblin at 6:25 AM on October 26, 2005

Jumping on the bandwagon here. Yes, you're fine. You're normal. I quit under similar circumstances. Cold turkey. I was in bed for about five days straight. I was confused, depressed, exhausted, weak, achy. On day six, I started feeling much better. By day seven, I still had that fuzzy head feeling, as if my brain were wrapped in cotton. However, by about day ten, my brain was feeling better and I was actually able to relate to other humans. I'd say I started to feel back to "normal" sometime between weeks two and three.

All of which to say, stick it out. Quitting is different for everyone, but kudos to you for doing it cold turkey. I'd tried the nicotine replacement therapy in the past, with no success. For me, I think I needed to do it cold turkey because now, when I want that one (just one!) cigarette, I remind myself how absolutely shitty I felt and how unproductive I was for a whole week.

[And it's a little bit cheeseball, but I tracked my progress by using the Stop Smoking Quitmeter. There are others out there too. It really helped me to track the weeks, days, minutes and seconds since my last cigarette. And also to track the money I was saving!]
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 7:00 AM on October 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this is expected.

I recommend reading some of the articles at They do a great job of explaining this and other physiological and psychological phenomena associated with quitting. The site is a bit extra zealous and rah-rah, but try to put up with it. The information and insight available is excellent, and was a real help to me in my quitting 3 years+ ago. And yes, I feel normal again. In fact, I feel much better than I ever did in my 13 years of smoking.
posted by Miko at 9:12 AM on October 26, 2005

Well, as everybody else has said, this is all normal and you're going to be fine. I tried quitting loads of times before I finally managed it. If you feel so inclined, I'd recommend exercising. I started after I quit and as first it was hard, but now I'm really into it. Ok, so I've become everything that I used to despise, but it's better than wheezing...
posted by ob at 9:35 AM on October 26, 2005

I quit cold turkey 6 months ago. The first week was tough but chewing gum and eating candy fairly obsessively helped satisfy the jones pretty well. Instead of avoiding triggers (such as drinking, bars, etc.), I actively engaged in activities which were previously linked to smoking as a sort of "fuck you" to my addiction. Being able to remain smoke-free whilst drinking as many of my friends indulged helped my confidence quite a bit.

I do miss the act of smoking a lot but not enough to start up again. Quitting is tough but for me it was the right thing to do. I also second the recommendation of reading the articles at - they were helpful.

Good luck!
posted by birdsong at 9:41 AM on October 26, 2005

All sounds absolutely normal to me. Classic symptoms of Nicotine withdrawal. Thankfully, they don't take long to abate completely. The difficult hurdle is getting out of the habit of smoking. The physical addiction doesn't take that long to kick, but I found the habit extremely hard to kick. The first few times I tried to quit, I'd eventually cave in and have a cig, followed almost immediately by nausea, as I'd gone so long without the nicotine fix.

Good luck!
posted by coach_mcguirk at 10:00 AM on October 26, 2005

If it's not too much of a smoking trigger I found that extra coffee intake helped me a lot in easing some of the withdrawal symptoms you mention. Sure its kind of just substituting one stimulant for another - but one that is (studies now show) probably actually good for you rather than cigarettes which quite obviously aren't.
posted by Wolfie at 11:44 AM on October 26, 2005

« Older I’m looking for help establishing a college fund...   |   error message in IE using proxy server Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.