Nicotine withdrawal: What to expect in weeks 2-4

If you've already quit smoking and week 1 is done and dusted, then congratulate yourself! Reward yourself for beating back the withdrawal symptoms that may peak in the first week after stopping smoking.1,2 You really do deserve it. 

Andit's okay if you haven't quit smoking yet. It's still worth looking at what these weeks after quitting might be like. You'll be pleased to know that nicotine withdrawal symptoms typically peak in the first week and may last two to four weeks.1 

It’s not all smooth sailing from here on out though, so it's definitely worth being prepared. Let's take a look at what you can expect from weeks 2 to 4 of being smoke- and nicotine-free.

Step 1: Nicotine withdrawal: What to expect in week 1 after quitting smoking

Week 1 is the time when some withdrawal symptoms, such as anger, anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, impatience, insomnia, and restlessness typically reach their peak.1  Congratulations on making it through the early days!

Step 2: Weeks 2–4. Onwards and definitely upwards.

The first two to four weeks are critical1: So, what might you be going through?

  • Feeling angry and restless. Anger and restlessness are among the last withdrawal symptoms to go, can last up to four weeks1 But every day is an achievement when you are going smoke- and nicotine-free, so go easy on yourself take it slow and steady.
  • Increased appetite. You may notice that food tastes better than when you smoked, and your appetite may increase.4 You may gain weight.5 While weight gain may put you off, remember that for most people the health benefits of not smoking far outweigh the health risks from a little bit of weight gain.Read this guide to quitting smoking and managing potential weight gain. 
  • The emotional roller coaster. These highs and lows are likely to fade … thank goodness … as your body adapts to being nicotine-free.1 If you feel like the emotional ride isn’t quite over yet, try incorporating some meditation or relaxation into your day and give yourself some well-earned 'me' time. You'll find more tips to help ride the roller coaster here
  • Stressed up to your eyeballs? One reason many people smoke is to handle stress, so you may become more aware of feeling stressed when you quit smoking.4 As you and your body adjust to not smoking, you should get better at handling stress.4 
  • The urge to smoke. Those overwhelming feelings should start to ease as time goes by.4 The urge won’t hit as often, and as the days go by, the cravings should get further apart.4 When it does strike, remember how far you’ve come, and how strong you have been to get to this point.

By the time you reach the 1-month mark, you may be through the most challenging phase of nicotine withdrawal symptoms,1 and you'll realise just how strong and determined you really are. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and you are moving full-steam ahead towards it. 

After 1 month, you could be on your way to putting smoking behind you. Find out what that means for the rest of your life.


©Pfizer 2019 Pfizer Australia Pty Limited. Pfizer Medical Information: 1800 675 229. Sydney, Australia. PP-CHM-AUS-0991, 12/2019

1. Hughes JR. (2007). Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Vol 9, No. 3. pp315–27.

2. McLaughlin I, Dani JA & De Biasi M. (2015) Nicotine withdrawal. Curr Top Behav Neurosci, Vol 24, pp 99–123.

3. Gilpin EA, Pierce JP & Farkas AJ. (1997) Duration of smoking abstinence and success in quitting. J Natl Cancer Inst, Vol. 89, No. 8, pp 572–576.

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4. NIH National Cancer Institute. How to handle withdrawal symptoms and triggers when you decide to quit smoking. Available at Accessed 21 October 2019.

5. Greenhalgh, EM, Stillman, S, & Ford, C. (2016) Health and other benefits of quitting. In Scollo, MM and Winstanley, MH [editors]. Tobacco in Australia: Facts and issues. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria; Available from Accessed 13/11/19.