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What is withdrawal?

You may get feelings of withdrawal because you are no longer getting nicotine, which is very addictive and is found in cigarettes and many vapes. Feelings of withdrawal are temporary physical and emotional changes. Think of them as signs your body is recovering from nicotine dependence. 

Withdrawal: what is going on inside your body?

It’s common to have at least a few withdrawal symptoms when you quit.

Feelings of withdrawal can include:

  • urges to smoke or vape (cravings)
  • changes to sleep
  • being easily upset or frustrated
  • feeling depressed or anxious 
  • finding it harder to concentrate 
  • feeling restless 
  • wanting to eat more or weight gain.

Some mob also talk about positive effects from quitting, such as feeling more satisfied, a better sense of smell and taste, fingertips feeling less cold and hands feeling steadier.

How long do feelings of withdrawal last?

Everyone is different. For many people, feelings of withdrawal usually appear within the first 1 to 2 days and are strongest in the first week, then fade and are gone after about 2 to 4 weeks.

Others find withdrawal a “bumpy ride”- their symptoms either fall then rise a few weeks later, or they don’t go away for several weeks. This can be due to getting triggered from routines and happenings in their day-to-day life.

If you smoke, nicotine replacement therapy can help reduce the strength of withdrawal symptoms.

It's a good idea to speak with your GP or pharmacist. They can advise if any medications are appropriate to help you stop smoking and/or vaping.

What are cravings and triggers?

You may have strong and frequent cravings (the urge or desire to smoke or vape) in the first days after you quit. After about a month, strong cravings tend to happen less often, and not every day.

Cravings can be due to nicotine withdrawal. However, the urge to smoke or vape can also be prompted by things you’ve learned to link with smoking or vaping, much like seeing or smelling tasty food can make you feel hungry. These are called triggers.

Triggers can be quite varied. For example, they can be linked to places you normally smoked or vaped, or mob you usually smoked with. They can be linked to emotions like stress or happiness.

Common triggers include:

  • Having your morning coffee
  • Catching up with mob you used to smoke with
  • After a meal
  • When you’re drinking alcohol
  • Feeling angry at your kids
  • Feeling stressed
  • Feeling bored
  • When you want to relax, or to celebrate something.

Planning what to do in these situations instead of smoking or vaping can help you stay quit.

AQL Counsellors Jamara Maza and Erica

Yarning with one of our AQL counsellors can help you work out what prompts you to smoke or vape and help you plan how to deal with your triggers.

Meet our AQL counsellors

Tips to cope with withdrawals, cravings & triggers

Remember the 4Ds:

  1. Delay acting on the craving for 5 minutes and it will usually pass. 
  2. Deep breathe to promote a calm and relaxed feeling. 
  3. Drink water to help flush out toxins and chemicals. 
  4. Do something else, to distract your mind and body.
AQL 4 Ds

Keep the mob close

Call on the mob for a yarn.

Head out on Country

Have a day out on Country, take in the scenery, pack some lunch and enjoy the connection to Country.

Get deadly & get creative!

Drawing, painting, listening to or playing music are all deadly options.

Walk off the urge

Go for a short walk or do some gentle stretches or exercises for a positive, healthy start to the day.

Kick the footy, shoot some hoops

Head outdoors, kick the footy or shoot some hoops with the kids

Change it up, swap it out!

Do something different. Read a magazine or a book, or even sit in a different area. Replace the cuppa with a healthy snack such as nuts or fruit.

Making up a rap about quitting

Get the tunes on and try and come up with some words around quitting the smokes or e-cigarettes. Make a deadly rap, then share it with the mob.

Don’t be shame, Talk it up!

Tell yourself "I am deadly, I can deal with this craving!".

Fresh is best!

Chew some gum or suck on some mints.

Keep brushing

Brush your teeth and notice that feeling of a clean, fresh mouth.

Listen to your deadly tunes

Listen to a funny podcast or your favourite music to make the quit journey more enjoyable.

Brain games

Keep your brain occupied by playing a game on your phone or doing a puzzle.

Please note,this information is for general use only.  Please consult your health professional for further advice.

If you would like to provide feedback, please contact

Last updated February 2024

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