Quit Smoking Timeline: 3 Things to Expect During the Smoking Cessation Period

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

Before anything else, you’ve got to congratulate yourself for deciding to quit smoking today. It’s probably one of the best, life-changing decisions you have made in your lifetime. Quitting smoking now would improve many aspects of your life – your health and fitness, finance, and relationship.

But the real challenge has just begun. Quitting smoking comes with withdrawal symptoms. Depending on your level of nicotine addiction, you may experience all the symptoms or you may experience just a few.

Here are the things you should expect during the smoking cessation period:

First Seven Days

Intense Craving

The first and perhaps the hardest part of quitting smoking is overcoming cigarette craving. Hours after your last cigarette, expect to crave for it. It’s really hard. Sometimes, it won’t get off your mind. The good news however is this – there are plenty of ways to deal with nicotine cravings. Here are some of the most proven techniques:


  • Exercise.
  • Avoid going to places where there are smokers.
  • Drink more water.
  • Breathe in and out for a couple of times when craving for cigarettes

According to studies, craving only lasts for up to 10 minutes. After this, it goes back to normal. Over time, after several days, you will notice that your craving for cigarettes will start to decline until it doesn’t bother you anymore.

Irritability and Anxiety

This is still connected to nicotine craving. When craving is not addressed, this can lead to a significant drop in your mood, which in turn makes you anxious and irritable. Many smokers who try to quit went back to smoking because they can’t handle the psychological effects of smoking cessation. But actually, it isn’t the irritability or anxiety that is to blame. It’s the lack of preparation and planning. Mood swings and other negative emotions are not justifiable reasons to stop quitting. Talk to a therapist or take medication such as Chantix to fight nicotine craving and get rid of the undesirable psychological symptoms.

Physical Symptoms

Quitting smoking also comes with a fleet of undesirable physical symptoms such as headache, fatigue, upset stomach, chest discomfort, flu, and so much more. These are all the outcome of stress that you may experience while trying to overcome nicotine craving. But by practicing proper relaxation techniques, eating right, exercising and giving yourself enough space to chill and unwind, you can get through all these physical symptoms effectively.

7-21 Days


If you reached this point, congrats again! As days pass by, the closer you get to your goal. The first week is always the toughest part. But once you get through it, you can relax a bit. On your seventh day and onwards, you will still experience cigarette craving but it’s going to be milder than the first seven days. As your craving subsides, so does the other withdrawal symptoms. But don’t be too confident. You may still slip. You may still get back to smoking. Just continue with your treatment, avoid being with smokers and going to places where smoking is allowed, and follow a healthy and active lifestyle. That day will finally come that you are going to wake up one day, not even remembering that you were a smoker once.



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