Stages of Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking comes with withdrawal symptoms and a level of difficulty that is on par with cocaine and other hard drugs. But it is certainly not impossible to quit, as evidenced by the many who have accomplished it. Those who want to quit should know that the withdrawal symptoms from quitting come in stages. The longer you quit for, the more of these stages you will go through.

The First Week

The hardest of the stages of quitting smoking is in the first week. This is where the withdrawal symptoms peak. These symptoms can actually start in during the first 30 minutes of not smoking. How severe the symptoms are and how soon they set in depend on how long and how heavily you smoked.

Nicotine doesn’t last very long when it hits the brain, so it needs to be administered regularly for the brain to continue its feeling of satiation. The brain will start to miss that nicotine the most during the first few days.

The strongest and earliest symptom will be cravings, followed by anxiety, depression, nervousness and a lack of focus. The symptoms become their strongest during the first 3-5 days, then they start to decrease.

As your respiratory system starts to heal itself, you will feel a buildup of mucus, you will have trouble exerting yourself for long periods of time, you may feel insomnia, and you will probably have a tightness in your chest.

Weeks Two through Four

Your body will start to normalize over these weeks, but it is a long, slow process. You will feel your appetite returning to normal, and you will start to feel less fatigue by the end of the fourth week.

Two weeks in, your mental acuity will return. You will no longer feel mentally bogged down and lethargic.

Coughing and excessive mucus production will persist for the first couple of weeks, but by the end of the fourth week, they should be all cleared up as well.

Cravings will still be strong during these weeks, but not as strong as they were for the first week. A sharp decline in cravings is usually experienced during the third week. With these cravings come feelings of anxiety, frustrations agitation and stress. You will need to be careful about triggers that set off your emotions or that apply stress to your during these weeks. Any trigger activations can make it incredibly difficult to resist the cravings.


Fifth Week and Beyond

You may suffer from smoking nostalgia for the rest of your life. This is the feeling of missing what you experienced while you smoked. But you have to remind yourself how hard it was to quit and all the things you had to go through to get where you are now.

Once you hit the fifth week of quitting, there won’t be an intensity to the cravings, but you will have be vigilant for the rest of your life. You may be put at risk if you are around smokers. The scent can make you start to miss the habit.

You won’t experience the intensity of cravings and withdrawal symptoms that you did in those first weeks, but if you are not careful, then you can fall back into your old habits.


  1. I started smoking in 2010 when I realized that the law gave workers that were cigarette smokers extra breaks due to their habit. I didn’t think it was fair that I was still busting my ass while my coworkers were getting rewarded for their bad habit. So I picked up smoking. Got extra breaks. Seemed like a good idea at the time as u had to pick up his slack while he was smoking I figured I’d take a smoke break instead. I just recently quit smoking cigarettes about two months ago and the cough I developed from smoking ceased, I have a lot more energy, increased stamina, and no more headaches! All in all I feel revitalized. But I’m thankful for the vape community to reach out and inform me about this change that could finally help me quit smoking for good! I had tried to quit smoking more times than I can count now before switching over to VAPING including using nicotine patches , nicotine gum, Counseling ect… And nothing was more pleasant than swapping a stinky cigarette for some good smelling and tasting juice! Dead presidents E-Juice made it awesomely easy their juice is fantastically great tasting by far my favorite of all time E-Juice out there with as pefect as it is safe blends with various variety of flavors and nicotine preference to satisfy each and everyone’s distinct preference! Don’t waste your life smoking it away! Stop taking years off your life span now and enjoy life a healthier and safer way for you and those around you! Quit smoking and Start Vaping! And don’t waste your time looking through all the different brands of why ice out there and go straight to Dead Presidents Premium E-juice! The most reliable and ever so tasting, cloud making and forever made safely PREMIUM E-Juice! Don’t say I never did u guys a favor! Take this advice as it’ll save your life! Literally! #DeadpresidentsPremuimEjuice @DeadpresidentsPremuimEjuice

  2. I kind of disagree with the stages. For me the first week was kind of difficult for sure but dealing with the discomfort, when I knew it was coming, wasn’t so bad. It was intense but ok. I find that now, three months in, and a few times here and there in between have been the hardest for me. One reason, I think, is that I really like smoking and the thought that I can’t even smoke once in a while, maybe for ever is tough. Another is that it was a form of self-medication. When I’m at work, working hard, it’s fine. But when I need to work at home I used to like to step out for a cigarette and think about things, then get to work. I think my anxiety levels have increased and I haven’t found much, except exercising more, that works as an alternative. Also, as to the comment above, there is no chance I want to pick up vaping instead, I like hand-rolled cigarettes. I think I need to meditate or do breathing exercises or something… I think I really liked just standing and breathing at a controlled pace. I think it is getting better for the most part though…

    • I think the vaping comment is an ad. But I agree I liked smoking. I’m a recovering alcoholic and use the 24 hour idea to quit. I don’t want to smoke for the next 24 hours. Not for the rest of my life. That’s too much to take on. Just 24 hours. It helps me. But I agree with your whole comment.

  3. On week 2, smoked 40 years and am 55. Was at 2 to e packs a day. Started vaping with friends. Very knowledgeable people. Instantly quit with very little craving. And I will never go back.

  4. I started smoking at the age of 15 and I am now 57. I had to stop smoking due to start of copd, pneumonia, asthmatic bronchitis. My lungs were not tolerating the ciggs. I was on the patch for about 50 days and been 5 days that patch was removed due to stomach pain & diarrhea, I still have the stomach pains & the diarrhea. I have ptsd from a trauma 31 years ago and my Dr is taking me off my meds for anxiety disorder. I have tried several other antidepressants to replace the zanax but having adverse effects. Is it possible that the diarrhea is from quiting and the anxiety worsened ? I can”t sleep even with over the counter meds. and having a hard time controlling the anxiety. If any advice Please help me through this I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack and don’t know what more to do 🙁 Ty Cindy

    • Anxiety may seem worse when you quit smoking but it is actually the cigs cause the anxiety. If you were on the patch you were still getting nicotine so it may take your body awhile to adjust to not having any. Exercise Exercise Exercise so whatever you can park farther away from the door when you go shopping. Walk wherever you can, start a regular exercise program it will help with the anxiety and help you sleep better at night. YOU ARE SO LUCKY TO BE FREE OF THE MONSTER THAT WAS TAKING YOUR MONEY, TIME and LIFE.

    • Anxiety and big anxiety plays havoc with the stomach and digestive system, if its massive anxiety then it probably is but im not a doctor and just a sufferer of major anxiety, I find that a simple heartburn tablet helps calm the stomach and ease it up but im not sure in your case, maybe something chalky to control the acidity and calm the stomach, that worked wonders for me and hope it works for you if you havent tried already ☺

  5. I’m on my 3rd week right now of not smoking. My first week was the hardest and strong cravings my 2nd week I was really tired just now getting my energy back to the way it use to be when I was 25 (I’m 36) plus the cough. Now I’m in depression stage. I’m just thankful everyone smoks around me because I smell it and think eww nasty. And it really helps not to pick one up. I just can’t wait to get back to my normal weight and get out of this stage. And instead of saying I’m going to stop just do it. It really isn’t that hard u just got to replace it with something new. Chew gum or whatever go workout. But u can do it.

  6. Wow do you reckon that guy works for a vaping company what a douche, hes only smoked since 2010 and needed a vape to quit, they have not been proven to be any safer for you that cigarettes or tobacco in the long haul, I had smoked for 18 years and quit cold turkey, yes you need will power and even if you use an alternative you will have more chance of defecting due to still having a feed of nico in your system. Make no mistake people, every single person out there has the power to quit smoking without aid, my advice would be to find a focus point and take your mind off of it, if you are not thinking about having a cigarette and are busy in mind then you will not feel the need for it, also never quit for somebody elses sake, do it for yourself, once you start you must be strong, yes there may be relapses for some along the way but don’t let that stop or interupt your process for quitting, instead see it as a great opportunity to re focus. Everyone gets there in the end and congrats and good luck to all

  7. It’s been 1 week and 3 days since I have not touched one.
    I never knew a build up of mucus is one of the things bound to happen.. it explains alot now.
    I live with a smoker… so I’m pushing my limits

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