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The First Week of Being a Non-Smoker

If you've made it past your first day quitting smoking, congratulations! The next week is likely to be the most difficult period within your quitting cycle, but you have the strength to overcome it.

The first week in a non-smoker's new life is the most difficult for them. It is a time when the psychological aspects of cigarette addiction and the physical withdrawal from nicotine itself occurs. This can feel stressful, anxiety-ridden, angry, and even overwhelming at times. You may find yourself experiencing emotional responses that you may otherwise not have. It is common to be very tired, short-tempered, or even to experience intense bursts of anger during this period of time. This can make it very difficult to refrain from smoking, but with the right coping skills and tools, you will be successful.

The First Week is Difficult

This particular stage in the quitting process is one in which many emotions may come up, but these emotions tend to be temporary. You are likely to experience cravings during this time, although cravings typically only last about five minutes. These cravings may occur several times a day in the first few days that you quit, but will eventually reduce in number until they occur only occasionally. Think of your quitting process this way; quitting is temporary, and so are cravings. The health benefits you will receive from quitting smoking far outweigh the downsides of smoking.

Fortunately, there are a number of tips you can use to ensure your success. Before you quit, or even if you are quitting right now, remember these important tips:

  • Remind yourself that each craving is a temporary, transient experience. If you can distract yourself for just five minutes, you will likely succeed over the craving. 

  • Remember your reasons for quitting, too. Your motivations are your own, but they can be a great way to keep yourself on track when you are experiencing difficult cravings or emotions. Consider keeping a list for yourself; this will help to keep you on track.

  • At some point, your brain is going to try to rationalize having a cigarette. If you can  determine what these rationalizations will be in advance, you can help to convince yourself to avoid them when they occur. For example, you may rationalize that one cigarette won't be the end of the world. You may decide that a difficult situation warrants having a cigarette. Or, you may decide that smoking when you drink alcohol is ok, as long as you don't smoke the rest of the time. By identifying these in advance, you can remind yourself that they are rationalizations when they occur. This can prevent you from falling back into those same daily habits.

  • Drinking water is extremely important. Water will help to remove nicotine from your system more quickly, but is also extremely important for general health. This will also give you something to preoccupy yourself with. Additionally, drinking plenty of water will help to ward off food cravings. While coffee and alcohol may make cravings worse, instead of better, herbal tea and fruit juice is also a good choice.

  • Practice distraction techniques when your cravings or difficult emotions occur. Remember that it may seem as if everything is stacked against your quitting efforts at times. Again, these are temporary thought processes. With will power, distraction, and keeping yourself busy, you can keep yourself from becoming mired in these thoughts.

  • Change your routine, from the very first day you quit. If you typically wake up, and smoke while drinking, consider waking up and going to a local coffee shop for your java.  Avoid other situations in which you would normally smoke. Right after meals, during your drive or commute to work, and when you first get home from work are all high-risk points in time. Consider what you can do differently around these times throughout the day. Maybe you choose to take the bus home from work, rather than drive. Or, perhaps you go out to eat for the first few days. Do whatever you need to do to stay away from smoking.

  • Reach out to your contact network. This may be friends, therapists, or family members who have agreed to support you while you quit smoking. Just speaking with a friend for five minutes can sometimes be enough to get through a craving.

Stay Strong

The first week is the most difficult during the quitting process. If you can power through the first week of quitting smoking, you stand a higher chance of succeeding in the end. You may always have mild cravings or urges to smoke, but these will reduce in intensity to a level that is far easier to overcome. Stay focused, dedicated, and remember why you are on the path you are on.

Issues During the First Week

During the first week without cigarettes, you will also likely experience:

  • Cravings
    The nicotine itself is the addictive ingredient in smokeless tobacco. You will still experience cravings, although you will crave your chosen tobacco form.

  • Irritability and Intense Emotions
    You will still experience nicotine withdrawal in many of the same ways that a smoker would. You may experience anxiety, irritability, and anger. You will need to be patient with yourself; ask others around you to be patient, too.

  • Food Cravings
    People who are withdrawing from nicotine often experience food cravings. You may find yourself very hungry. Ward this off with crunchy fruits and vegetables.

But don't let these negative side effects deter you. Remember that they are only temporary, a small blip on the radar leading to a healthier life.

25 Responses to "The First Week of Being a Non-Smoker"

  • elizabeth
    December 9, 2014 - 6:03 am Reply

    I am on day 5 going into 6 of quitting! I have definitely had issues with my routine and having to rethink the way I do everything. My first thought when I would get into my car is lighting up a cigarette, but now I have to forget these thoughts. One benefit I am definitely feeling is my level of concentration has increased! I used to have to get up and smoke at least every hour while doing work, but today for the first time I actually sat down and did work for two and a half hours without any break. I feel amazing. I am only thinking about the positives I am gaining from freeing myself of the slavery of cigarettes.

  • Tom
    December 25, 2015 - 12:50 pm Reply

    I am on day one .

  • Louise
    January 20, 2016 - 8:49 pm Reply

    Just finished day 2 ! I will be 40 this year and have smoked since I was 12 🙁 … I am finding it all strangely a bit easy with the help of Nicolette chewing gum .. I wish I d done it years ago ! My husband is on day one and patches … Horray for all of us !!! Well done everyone … I feel ten years younger already ! I’m proud of you all xx

    • Luis
      February 11, 2016 - 1:05 am Reply

      How’s everyone doing? I’ve quit thousands of times . Just wondering how everyone’s doing now that yall have more than a month. I have been smoking since I was 26 I’m 36 now I tried quitting today but the agony of having a cigarette over came me. I usually smoke into he morning to use the restroom. I don’t know if any of yall did this before. Today I didn’t smoke so I could use the restroom. I felt bloated. So I smoked on my way to work. It’s been tough trying to quit. I didn’t think it would be this hard.. if any of yall can give feedback on how yall are doing would be great. I would love to hear from yall. Thank you.

      • tanya
        February 16, 2016 - 7:30 am Reply

        Hi Luis
        This is my first 24 hours smoke free.
        Its been so easy the reason is Champix.
        Amazing. I was one of those smokers i never quiting. Then when i decided i would i couldnt last more than couple of hours.
        Champix relives cravings and withdrawals. You do get the i want a smoke in your head but its so easy to just say noway.
        Hope this helps

      • Mandy
        July 30, 2016 - 6:27 pm Reply

        I would smoke for the same reason, I don’t know why that used to trigger needing a bathroom break but sure enough it always did at least once a day. Try using caffeine as a replacement for that, it generally works okay.
        Aside from that, exercise is what really helped me. Lots of cardio killed my emotional issues related to quitting and feeling better made it easier to stick with quitting. I smoked from 19 to 34, quit for a year once before but relapsed due to stress. Recently quit again and have been using the cold turkey method I used before, but I’m adding support from reading sites like this one this time around.

    • Lee
      June 24, 2016 - 10:39 pm Reply

      Day 4 was the hardest for me. I couldnt take it any longer as i was becoming the most craziest crankiest bitch ever.

      I am back on day 1 again oh Lordy help me!

  • Ben
    June 8, 2016 - 12:20 am Reply

    I’m on day one. I can get through the week, but I don’t want to be punished in the long run. Because I know quitting has emotional distresses and upheavals and can oppress us.

    • Mandy
      July 30, 2016 - 6:30 pm Reply

      Exercise! The first attempt at quitting for me, years back, was an emotional roller-coaster. It caused me to relapse. Then later down the road I figured out that working out, especially cardio, really really helped with the crazy emotional stuff.

  • Ashley
    June 19, 2016 - 12:59 am Reply

    28 hours without a cig. Longest with out one since I was 15 years old. Im now 39. So far ive experienced frustration, sweating palms , crying, and hunger… but I also feel a great deal of satisfaction. Ive made it 28 hours!!! Just waiting to get over this 5-7 day stretch. . Im going to stay quit!!!

  • mike
    June 25, 2016 - 2:37 pm Reply

    i’m on day 4.smoker for 48 years.61 now you do the math. last night sweating lie a pig

  • PinkLips
    June 28, 2016 - 12:31 am Reply

    Day one for me. I’m black so the tar from cigarettes stains my lips. I can not continue to live with black lips. I look in the mirror and I look smoked out to me. But I’m an attractive woman so that’s the killer. I’ve smoked just about every day for the past 10 yrs. The only time I would not smoke a cigarette is when I had no money. My birthday is exactly 6 months from today. I need to be able to say (in January) that I quit smoking 6 months ago.

    I also need my face back. My pretty pink lips. No more acne from built up toxins. Ugh. I can’t believe I played that came the tobacco companies want you to play.

  • PinkLips
    June 28, 2016 - 12:34 am Reply

    Oh and I’m sleepy and withdrawn socially. Need to get more emotionally grounded to stay above the pitfalls.

  • Ginger
    June 28, 2016 - 12:38 am Reply

    Week one down… Saddened that the nicotine gum makes my tongue yellow, was really hoping for whiter smile to help keep me motivated, now I’m thinking that will also be short lived. . You can quit, you just have to remember you have to want to quit more than you want to smoke. Make yourself proud. You’re worth it!

  • Kimberly
    June 28, 2016 - 1:27 am Reply

    I am on day 3, and it is not fun. I am exhausted, nausea ridden, and cranky/foggy. What day do the withdrawals begin to fade?

  • Phoenix
    June 29, 2016 - 1:57 am Reply

    I’m on day 8. Cravings are starting to let up a bit.. Carrots have now become my best friend.. Been a chain smoker for 20 years. Never thought I could stop.. I’m using welbutrin…

  • Cheryl
    July 5, 2016 - 6:40 pm Reply

    Using stuff like welbutrin/Zyban or gums and patches doesn’t usually tend to work. The trick is to realize nicotine is a horrible drug and smoking is a drug addiction. Taking pills to quit again is more of a short term thing… the anti smoking pills are anti depressants that’s all and they come with their own withdrawals after which are horrible.

    Cold turkey is the best way for sure.. after 3 days with 0 nicotine the cravings are almost 0. The nicotine leaves your body in full after 72 hours. It is still hard to quit after that though because your brain is addicted to the actions and *reward* of smoking. Smoking is not something you are giving up by quitting it. It’s some you’re becoming free of.. it’s a horrible invention.

    Within 4 days your irritability and anxieties or fears will be gone and very slowly you won’t have to fight to not smoke. . You will be like oh..I’m good, I really don’t want a cigarette now. Just don’t fight to avoid thinking about smoking. That’s hard.. try to just think differently. .. not argh I miss my smokes!! But.. oh isn’t this sweet ! I don’t have to feel like I’m rushing through everything to get to my cigarettes..

    That’s what I do and reading these blogs helps a lot lol I’m day 7 and still sucks but not so bad =)

  • Cheryl
    July 5, 2016 - 6:42 pm Reply

    Oh and when you get irrationally angry. ..try to remind yourself smoking did this to you and get angry at cigarettes..I tore up a pack in anger lol it really helped >. <

  • Davina
    July 6, 2016 - 5:45 am Reply

    This is day number 8 for me. It has been hard . What helps is that I go to the gym twice a day . I am ready to have my life back. God bless everyone on their journey . We will come out better than we went in .

  • Ansh
    July 30, 2016 - 5:21 am Reply

    I am on day 6, and for a surprise I m actually enjoying it, to defeat my biggest weakness. I was 12 when I started smoking, and m 29 now. 17 years of chain smoking and what a relief it is now I can’t tell.

  • Charolette
    August 10, 2016 - 8:19 pm Reply

    I am on a day and a half its been very hard any helpful advice would help.

    • Cassy
      August 28, 2016 - 3:14 am Reply

      I’m on day one and I don’t know if this will help but when I get a craving I breathe deeply and hold my breath and exhale so slowly it does help the cravings only last three minutes so look at a clock and do it for three minutes it is helped me

  • Kurt
    August 11, 2016 - 1:32 pm Reply

    I quit August 1st cold turkey after 26 years of smoking and dipping. I’ll tell what’s motivating is having bladder cancer at 42. I got diagnosed around the 25th of July as made August 1st as my quit date. First week was really though, but I kept telling reminding my self having a camera probed up my dick every 3 months for the next 18 months, and if everything goes well every 6 months for the next 3 years. And every ear there after if everything goes perfectly for the rest of my life. 60% chance it will reocur and then back to square one. I have had a turbt surgery yesterday and I have a catheter my in dick right now. Thank you smoking, as Dylan crooned… Goodbye is too good a word to say so say say fare thee well…… To smoking.

  • Jason
    August 21, 2016 - 10:38 pm Reply

    Man, I’m so sorry ti hear that. Good luck Kurt, I hope everything works out for you. There are so many ways smoking can screw us. Your story makes me even angrier at smoking, so I will channel that anger and hate of smoking into fighting the cravings.

  • Cassy
    August 28, 2016 - 3:19 am Reply

    I’ve been smoking since I was 13 and I’m 47 now, this is really really hard, I didn’t realize smoking is attached to everything I do, i’m using the NicoDerm patch it seems to be helping but I keep trying to tell myself just one cigarette won’t hurt. Please pray for me

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