When an individual who smokes cigarettes decides that he or she wants to quit, he or she can expect to go through nicotine withdrawal. There are various stages of nicotine withdrawal, which some people believe start as early as 30 minutes after a person has had his or her last cigarette. Symptoms might start that soon and can peak about three to five days later before mellowing out about two weeks after the last cigarette. Among the many symptoms experienced during the various stages are anxiety, headaches, cravings, irritability and nausea. It might take several months before a person feels completely comfortable with his or her new smoke-free lifestyle.
The first stage of withdrawal begins soon after the last cigarette has been smoked. Symptoms experienced during this stage are both physical and mental and might include sweating, cramps, headache, nausea, sore throat, confusion and anxiety. A person might wish to treat some of these with over-the-counter medication. Many people view this stage to be the most difficult one to endure.
After the initial onslaught, symptoms continue and intensify during the second stage, which usually lasts a couple of weeks. It involves many of the same symptoms as seen during the earlier stage, but the person's cravings, irritability, tension and other symptoms intensify.
The longest of all is the final phase, during which an individual has endured the weeks it usually takes to eliminate nicotine from the system, but he or she might still have a desire for a cigarette during certain situations. Being around friends who smoke, doing activities that used to be done while smoking and smelling cigarette smoke are all things that might cause a craving for a cigarette. After several months, most people find that most of the withdrawal symptoms have passed.
Some people feel that using a nicotine supplement of some sort helps them endure nicotine withdrawal. There are many products available, including gum, patches and pills. Using these products is a personal choice and might be made after consulting with a medical professional. Whether an individual chooses to use these items, understanding the stages of nicotine withdrawal, preparing for them and having a support group are all great ways to quit smoking.