What was withdrawal really like?

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:41

31 Mar 2007, 01:43 #26

I am on day 12 now of no nicotine. I generally expected withdrawl to be very bad. It was not. It was not easy, but very doable. Education is the key. Fortunately, I came upon WhyQuit on my first day and read constantly. The knowledge of what was happening is I think what made withdrawl easier.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

30 Nov 2007, 05:29 #27

A tactic I have been seeing used quite a bit lately by a pharmaceutical manufacturer and it seems, the FDA itself, is that it is hard to determine what symptoms a person might be having are from side effects of a quit smoking medication as opposed to what symptoms might be happening just because a person has simply stopped smoking.

It seems as if there is a perception being sold out there that people who quit smoking often experience agitation to the level of becoming dangers to society, depressed to the level of feeling suicidal, and a host of medical complaints that causes them to experience severe aches and pains that seem to go on for weeks or months after cessation.

This thread was basically started to dispel the myth that quitting leads to horrid withdrawals that are so debilitating that it is makes it almost impossible for people to quit without the aid of a pharmaceutical to ease up withdrawal that happen when most people quit. I think it is an important thread to get back up at this point in time, not just for people using or considering using medications to quit, but to help people realize that the experiences most people have when quitting are not as traumatic as it is being made out to be.

We are not saying that there is not some anger involved when people quit or that some people don't get depressed. It is the level of that anger or the extent of that depression that we take issue with, as well as the extent of the physical discomfort that people may experience that we are taking issue with.

I am going to attach some related strings and videos addressing these issues below. We just want to make it clear that the frequency and the extent of problems that we see from quitting appear to be quite different than the frequency and levels that we seem to be seeing from certain medications out there.

The tactics that are being used to sell and defend pharmaceutical products can easily have the secondary effect of scaring people from implementing the program that has resulted in the vast majority of successful ex-smokers we have in the world today--people who simply quit smoking cold turkey and who will be able to stay successfully free for as long as they stick to a personal commitment to never take another puff.


Related articles and commentaries:

Anger - new reactions as an ex-smoker
Emotional loss experienced when quitting
Depression - normal or real organic?
Life goes on without smoking
Blame for early symptoms - a rule of thumb
So how did most successful ex-smokers actually quit?
"Isn't quitting cold turkey too dangerous?"

Related videos:
Video Title Dial Up HS/BB Audio Length Added
"Is this a symptom of quitting smoking?" 1.91mb 18.9mb 0.77mb 05:13 09/27/06
Does smoking cause my headaches? 2.69mb 07.4mb 08:32 03/21/07

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

30 Nov 2007, 05:58 #28

As you've said quite often..... in your 30 or so years working in tobacco cessation you have knowledge of 2 maybe 3 cases where someone died while going cold turkey. Was cessation the cause? Was there an underlying problem? Out of how many? THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS. Nearly 50 MILLION folks have stopped using tobacco - most by simply choosing no more.

Quitting tobacco is not going to kill you. Gotta remember it is the way we are designed to be, naturally, normally, nicotine free.
Keep using tobacco and it probably will kill you, one way or another.

What was withdrawal like? It was constant for 40 years - it occurred every 30 to 40 minutes every hour of every day for nearly all of my life. Quite awful really, no matter the method of delivery. Usually worse when 'quitting smoking' & using transdermal or mucusoal absorption methods as they were not nearly effective or quick as actually ingesting tobacco smoke or the juice of finely chopped leaves.

What was FINAL ONE-TIME & DONE withdrawal like?
Not that bad actually. Challenging, somewhat uncomfortable is my best description.
Not nearly what I thought it would be. I was taught by buying in to 'Conventional Wisdom' it would be terrible.
Neither my health nor well-being or sanity was ever put at risk.
Seems not all 'quitters' utilizing other 'endorsed methods' can make that statement.

My Dad (2 1/2 years) would for sure say the same as would my boss (26 years) and my partner (6+ years). Not as bad as we'd been led to believe. All of us ceased ingestion abruptly. All of us have stayed free the same way for years now - we each know that to keep our freedom we simply choose to never take another puff.

JoeJ Free - NicotineFree and Living as I was meant to be for Two Years, Ten Months, Nineteen Days, 6 Hours and 41 Minutes, while reclaiming 91 Days and 10 Hours, by choosing not to use 26332 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $5,776.13.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

30 Nov 2007, 06:45 #29

Actually, I never had one person die while going cold turkey. I had one person die a few weeks after quitting, but when he came in I think he was needing a quintuple bypass and was in really bad shape already. If I recall right, his doctor did not believe he could make it through the surgery and wanted him off smoking for a while before attempting to do it. The doctor made it clear though that he was in really bad shape and had prepped the patient and his family to the fact that the man was not likely to make it much longer. He did quit, for the duration of the clinic, actually was feeling much better on a number of fronts, but did pass away sometime around the third week in. As I said though, and as he and his family knew though, he knew he was on borrowed time. I actually went to his funeral, and his wife really thanked me for the help I had given him. She told me how proud he was that he had quit and how proud she was of him for doing it. I believe that she deeply appreciated the fact that he did fight to live at the end, but that he was just too far gone by the time he quit. She did go out of her way though at the funeral to introduce me to lots of family members and friends and hit home the point that her husband did successfully quit--hoping to help her loved ones avoid a similar fate.

The only other time I had a person die who was in the clinic was when I had a husband and wife team come to quit smoking. The man was in his mid to late 30's, had severe out of control diabetes, a host of other problems, and was a heavy smoker. His doctors laid out to him that he was a walking time bomb if he didn't quit smoking. He was making it as clear to the man that he had better quit smoking or he was going to die, and he was not talking in the distant future.

During the clinic the wife did successfully quit, but the husband cheated from day one and finally dropped out before the first weekend. He was back smoking after that and died the next week. Again, it was no surprise to anyone. Blaming his death on quitting smoking was pretty much out of the question though considering, he actually never quit and for all practical purposes, had not even cut down at the time he had died.

Besides my clinic contacts, over the years I have spoken to around one hundred thousand people in live programs. I don't remember one case of a person coming up to me and saying that they had a personal family member or friend die when they tried to quit smoking cold turkey. Not a one. Considering the state of health of many people who do quit smoking because of a diagnosis of life a threatening condition, it is quite remarkable when you think about it. That is why pushing the idea of the danger of cold turkey quitting is so abhorrent to me.

The story about NRT use in the ICU in the string "Isn't quitting cold turkey too dangerous?" really hits home this issue too.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

30 Nov 2007, 08:18 #30


Thanks for replying and expanding the point I was attempting to make. My original premise was that getting clean of nicotine never in and of itself killed anyone. As far as I've been able to research and in my personal experience noone has died as a result of abrupt cessation of tobacco / nicotine use. Millions have died because they've wrongly believed they were unable to quit. Abhorrent indeed.

Also, wanted to mention that my Mom also was a successful ex-smoker for 7+ years. She quit cold turkey and stayed free until her passing by choosing a life lived free & not ever taking another puff.


Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

30 Nov 2007, 23:06 #31

Withdrawl was not nearly as bad on this quit due to the education from Joel and the rest at this site, I was able to keep my blood sugar level by eating more than once a day and drinking juice etc.

Day 1, after butting out the last one at 630 am, first crave 15 min later , second 10 min after that head ach started, took advil, eat, crave, ignore, head ach back. Ears starting to buzz as brain yelled for nicotine, ignored craves and buzzing, drank water, drank strong coffee to ease the screach in my brain for a fix.
Read, read, read this site, determined was not giving up even it killed me. It didn't.

Day 2, got up 6 am crave, ignored, eat, drink coffee, ignore crave, wife got on nerves, crave, ignore, on way to work thought to self, the only way you have been putting up with wife for 24 years was because you had nicotine to calm you down, you are either gonna have to smoke, or divorce (junkie thinking for sure) I love wife. Ignore craves junkie thinking all day, read read read this site, head ach not as bad, buzzing letting up, not as much screaching in the brain for a fix, much easier to ignore.

Day three slightly dull headach, hard to concentrate on details for work, just keep on ignoring the crave,

days 5-7 getting easier to think, no head ach, sleeping like a log, waking up feeling good, not fogged needing the fix, eating like I was 21 again, feeling lots better.

Second week, occasional 20 second crave, not strong, getting on with work, life, reading and supporting others on site as time allows.

Third and consecutive weeks, easier and easier, getting on with life, stopping by site occasionally to catch an article or send some encouragement.

RJW After 32+ years of feeding the addiction, FREE at Last 74 days, saving 10+days of life and $668.00, not injesting poison via inhaled death 2964 times and not absorbing poison daily through just a little pinch of death between the cheek and gum. ANY amount of withdrawl is worth it

Never Take Another Puff, Not One Puff Ever

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

01 Dec 2007, 18:19 #32

Making the decision to quit is for sure harder than getting on with the actual quit itself. The hardest thing is finding the impetus and motivation to actually begin the quit in the first place.

I found that once I decided to get on with a concerted effort to quit cold turkey, I was actually excited by the thought of finding out how my body and mind was going to react to it.

I remember the night when I had my last cigarette, lying in bed, looking forward to the morning to finding out how I would be without cigarettes! I almost couldn't sleep with excitement, can you believe it!

When I woke up I still had the excitement but was now intermingled with nerves and apprehension, maybe a bit of fear of the unknown. Now was the moment of truth...stay in the mindset and succeed and look forward to the comfort and freedom from nicotine and tobacco (that others on Freedom talked about, and what I craved so much) or give in (again) go to the shop and buy smokes and fail (again) and experience again 20 times a day when I ask myself the questions...when will I quit? What will it take? Do I want to live a long and tobacco related disease free life or not? Do I want to keep wasting money and actively investing in my own death? Do I want to keep asking, is this the cigarette that kills me? Is this the one that sparks the lung cancer? Is this the one that puts me in the hospital bed, holding my wife's hand, staring at the ceiling thinking..if only I had quit when I had the chance?

Well the time to quit was now, the opportunity had presented itself. I had thought of, and had wanted to quit for ages (like most smokers) and wished I never had started, and tried hard to imagine a life without the complications of smoking...it seemed like a paradise and for the first time it seemed like I had the potential to reach this paradise and say goodbye to smoking forever. I just had to get through a few days of...what....the unknown....the big W...withdrawal.

Well let me tell you, with day 1, withdrawal was a bit of a rollercoaster, incorporating a bit of anxiety, swings up and down between elation that I was doing this and a sense of loss that I was saying goodbye to an old friend or maybe even an old "me" but the thing was that I didn't want to get off this rollercoaster, I wanted to see it through to the end! It was at times a crazy ride but I loved it! Not meaning that I want to do it again, I loved it because it was sending me to my freedom!

I had all the usual things that others describe. A bit of fogginess, sleeping a lot, a bit of anxiety, a few grumps and growls at my wife, but hey this isn't so bad when compared to a life of crippling disease.

Basically if I wasn't reading here on this site keeping myself armed with info, I was at the gym keeping my mind and body occupied, watching TV, drinking loads of water and juice or sleeping.

At the end of the 3 days and my 72 hours of physical withdrawal was over, I felt such a great sense of achievement and success! I really felt like I had it beat, and I remember thinking to myself, that wasn't so bad AND I'm so glad I did it!

Looking back, nothing I experienced during those 3 days was that bad. I had craves, sure, but that can be controlled with the information provided right here at whyquit. For the next month, it was all about reprogramming the mind to dismantle and forget about triggers, physical withdrawal was well and truly over and I could feel the comfort coming, even within a such a short time. I took long distance flights, went on holiday, worked with a lot of smokers, all the while relishing in the fact that I didn't have an addiction to feed anymore. I watched people known and unknown to me feeding their addiction with a smug feeling of well being while feeling totally secure in my quit.

And now? Well I can't say I hit many (if any) triggers these days. I do have the experience (and it intrigues me) of what others here talk about which is the thought of or about smoking without actually having the desire to smoke. I often think of smoking in terms of "gee I'm glad I don't smoke" or " in the old days I would have smoked now, but I'm so happy now that I don't have to!"

Quitting cold turkey is possible, it doesn't hurt or make you go crazy! I always thought I couldn't quit, I thought I was one of those dedicated smokers who "will smoke forever", that I truly "loved smoking", its all rubbish. I thought I would only quit through some kind of "painless method" like hypnotherapy or taking some kind of magic pill or drug. But there is only one way to quit and that is to simply stop administering nicotine into your body and then you will find out for yourself how easy it really is and how good it is to be free.

Living free without tobacco and nicotine is one of the best things in the world, and I'm proud of myself everyday that I chose to quit and make it stick.

Mick Dundee Free 7 months and going strong!

Joined: 19 Jan 2009, 14:59

27 Jan 2009, 17:00 #33

Wasn't anything like I thought it would be. After 32 years, I would have thought I would have the shakes, headaches, or something. All I really had is a "pang" of sorts, feeling alittle lost, and actually, maybe from the extra oxygen, slightly buzzed!! I never had crying spells, instead, had insane fits of laugher, my kids must have thought I lost my mind, laughed so hard at something really dumb, I actually had to pull off the road as I couldn't drive.
Anyways, just rambling here, on Day 23 and feeling very well.

Joined: 31 Jan 2009, 02:15

21 Mar 2009, 00:25 #34

I think someone wrote here once that the movie you play in your head about what withdrawal will be like is way worse than the real life experience. I think that bears repeating!

What was it really like?

Shorter than I thought it would be. 72 hours, and I really was over the worst of it. I took some advice I found here and drank a lot of fruit juice during those hours, and that was an *amazing* help to me. (I drank it for only those three days, though, because of the calories and the fact that I didn't want a crutch.)

Less intense than I'd imagined. During the first three days and even the first week, the cravings were strong sometimes, but the bottom line is, they were completely manageable. They really don't kill you. I did not break out into a cold sweat; I never once got the shakes; I didn't scream at anyone; I didn't rip out my hair or claw my face off; I never felt as if I were going crazy. I only felt a strong desire to smoke from time to time (not as often as I'd imagined), and so I recognized the crave and felt my way through it to the other side where it was gone (and it really, honestly, never lasted even three minutes for me--much shorter than that--I timed it a few times.)

Once in a while, I had that "I want something" feeling--I satisfied that by chewing on something healthful (seemed to help me take out some agression to chew on carrots--chewing was a big deal those first days and sometimes still is!) I also came here and read a lot, and learned a lot. One of my big trigger times was after work when I used to come home, sit down with the news and smoke away for about 3o minutes. Every day for the first two weeks, I came home, and sat down with Joel's videos for about 30 minutes instead.

Tough, but simple. Quitting cold turkey makes it simple. You don't have to remember to do anything except not smoke. It's tough, no doubt, but it's simple. When the craves hit, I'd just say, "I'm not going to smoke right now; I'm going to just do the next thing," and then I'd follow through on that by not smoking and instead doing the next thing I had to do in my life. The crave then goes away after a short period of time.

An opporutunity to learn about myself & celebrate. I know that sounds corny, but billions of people can't be wrong--a positive attitude makes a HUGE difference in just about anything you take on, including quitting nicotine. I worked to achieve this by focusing on my desire to learn every single little thing my body was doing to heal as I quit so that I could celebrate those things and, as corny as it sounds, be really, truly proud of myself. I cannot tell you how much that positive self-talk has helped, and how much it has carried into other things in my life. I'm telling myself every day what a good job I'm doing by not smoking, and after nearly two months of that, I'm starting to realize that I'm just more confident over all. Other people are noticing it, too, and reacting accordingly. It's really amazing.

I read here about the "ahhhhh" your brain got from nicotine, gets from food, etc. Well, I give myself the "ahhhh" with praise now. I know what a crave feels like, and I know how it feels to manage it--it feels GREAT because I congratulate myself (ahhhh! yay! I did it!) And I come here to this board, and sometimes I write about other success moments I've had, and guess what--I get more praise! Ahhhhhhh! It's wonderful. It's one of the reasons I try to encourage and praise others here--I know how much it helps me.

I found that getting the unparalled education given to us here about what to expect made all the difference in my ability to manage withdrawal, and ultimately, that is part of what made it far better than I thought it would be.


I have been free for 1 Month, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, 22 hours and 38 minutes (51 days). I have saved $138.28 by not smoking 779 cigarettes. I have saved 5 Days, 22 hours and 49 minutes of my life. My Quit Date: 1/27/2009 9:30 PM


Joined: 14 Nov 2010, 12:07

15 Nov 2010, 04:38 #35

Hello Freedom,

Before I quit smoking I literally had no idea exactly what quitting would feel like. I did know it would be unpleasant and awful and even though I knew it wouldn't be impossible It felt like it.


I started on a monday, a work day for me. The thought of smoking was literally always on my mind but the craves were manageable. Night time, however, was very difficult for me. I couldn't fall asleep, I couldn't sit straight, I simply couldn't relax. I was hot and cold, and all I wanted was a cigarette. This all passed within two days, the thought of smoking still lingers.

What helped me tremendously during withdrawal was saying to myself "It's almost over" and "I can have ANYTHING but a cigarette." The truth is, withdrawal is similar to an awakening, a state of heightened senses, an understanding that the cigarette is not just a pleasurable device. It is a DRUG, and it takes withdrawal to realize this. 

Thank you WhyQuit. Thank you Freedom. NO MORE NICOTINE!!!!


Joined: 14 Nov 2010, 15:34

27 Nov 2010, 22:01 #36

Well now just about to hit week 3 I remember the first few days well. I wouldn't say I had any physical withdrawal symptoms, withdrawal was more emotional for me. Prior to Joels videos I gave it two attempts the week before (it had been aprox 2-3years since my last attempt) and both times was smoking buy day 2, I was so sad I smoked, although I didn't feel happy after I did!. For this final attempt I found why quit .com  I watched Joel's 7 day video guide and although again I was very miserable (lots of tears on day two) the videos made me determined to see it through, after all how could I keep putting myself through this? From day 3 I started to feel better. The article ' Restoring volume control' has really helped me accept that the sad feelings I have will go and it's a natural process.  I still think about smoking but I keep popping back here to reinforce my resolve, but with the support Freedom has given me, it's much easier than I thought. Last night I went out with a large group of people and many of them smoked. I amazed myself on how easy I found it. It felt so good getting home last night having not taken a singlre puff! It was almost like I had this site sat on my shoulder supporting me... I even think some of my views ( eduacation from this site)  made the smokers consider quitting themselves! As far as the question about withdrawal, the only physical withdrawal I have significantly noticed is my lungs clearing and some really mad dreams! 

Joined: 02 Dec 2011, 03:46

09 Dec 2011, 02:51 #37

On Day 28, just about to turn Green.

Withdrawal for me is mixed in all aspects.  In the sense there is exhilaration, confidence boost, smell the flowers, sunshine kind of day (or hour for that matter).  Then some days of "why am I feeling this way", to lack of motivation so "lets just laze".  In all aspects physical it seems like I just grew some new legs and power!

Which is why I feel it is extremely important that we stay on our toes, knowing another puff will only turn the clock back.

Right now, I am am enjoying things (everyday small things) that I missed when I started being enslaved since my teenage years.  So can we call it a second stage growing up, sometimes being transported to our yesteryears a few decades ago?!!  This is what I enjoy most right now!

NTAP!  Sri

Joined: 13 Nov 2008, 14:04

29 Aug 2012, 14:05 #38


Joined: 26 Apr 2014, 21:45

14 Jul 2014, 13:50 #39

" The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"   ~ FDR

I found this article maybe before I had even started my quit. I've started many times to come back to it and write before I truely forgot what withdrawal was really like.

During my smoking addiction, I had experienced 2 very distincts types of withdrawal:

The first type was when I was actively smoking. You know, running out of cigarettes, unable to purchase any, or something unfortunate happened to the last pack I had on me. The withdrawals I "suffered" then is probably what kept me from trying to quit earlier on in my life. The shakiness, the nervousness, the crying, the irrational tirades, the junkie-thoughts of hanging around places waiting to ask a complete stranger for one (no matter what time of the day or night it was, no matter if you were alone or not), and oh... Did I mention the crying? The feelings of how life wasn't fair, how everyone was kind of "out to get me", that noone understands, that it was me against them. I remember one certain time I actually had the thought that "life just isn't worth living like this"... oh, nothing serious. It was just me, being a dramatic martyr without any smokes.

The second type was when I decided to "try out" quitting. The first 72 hours felt sort of like a waiting game. I had no physical symptoms at all except on the night of Day 2 I had nausea. I wouldn't have even known this COULD be a side-effect of quitting if not for the education and research on whyquit. Psychologically?  No crying. No shakiness. No red glowing eyes with thoughts of murder on my mind. No thoughts that I couldn't do it. No thoughts that life wasn't worth this. I just breathed. And waited. 3 days pass fairly quickly even when you aren't doing anything. Oh, I still had urges. Some of them quite strong. But, I breathed through them. I think I spent the majority of my withdrawal waiting for nothing to happen. Because that's what ended up happening. Quitting withdrawal was nothing like active smoking withdrawal. Just a few more empty spaces in your day that you end up finding other things to fill them with. 

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it was due to all the education from here at Freedom and WhyQuit coupled with the fact that I just wanted to know what it felt like to actually be nicotine-free. However, it seems to be a common theme on this thread that withdrawal while quitting wasn't as bad as they thought it would be.... I hate that fear dictated me for so long. I hate seeing the fear in others when I mention that I've quit.

The only thing I am sorry for now is that my fear of quitting smoking held me back for so long.

~ Christy 

I have been quit for 2 Months, 3 Weeks, 1 Day, 16 minutes and 16 seconds (83 days). I have saved $438.29 by not smoking 1,660 cigarettes. I have saved 5 Days, 18 hours and 20 minutes of my life. My Quit Date: 4/22/2014 9:24 AM
Last edited by Mommiana on 14 Jul 2014, 14:00, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 02 Jan 2014, 21:03

29 Dec 2014, 18:10 #40

It was knowledge that got me through. I didn't know how long physical withdrawal lasted nor did i know about being 'in a fog' or that you go through various emotional stages, so during my previous two quit attempts i was walking in the dark frightened of the unknown. That unknown kept me smoking until i found whyquit.

Over the first two weeks i sat and watched joels videos and read johns e book and thereafter i watched joels videos when i needed to. I intentionally went head on at trigger cues. I found that it wasn't the physical craves that particularly bothered me but my emotions did. I went on an emotional roller coaster for the best part of 7 months. I would find myself crying for no reason. I would find myself looking to start an argument.

From month 8 i found total calm and peace and seeing someone lighting up fills me with horror.