I Quit Smoking. Why Do I Feel Worse?

You’ve ashed your last cigarette and exhaled your final puff. Perfect, you’ve quit smoking now, and all your problems are over. As long as you resist the urge to light up every time you whiff someone’s secondhand, your days of hacking up lungs and shelling out hundreds for overtaxed cigarettes are finally over.

But wait: Why do I feel like I can’t get up in the morning? Why am I cranky and unfocused? Why do my muscles ache, and why is my digestion disrupted? It turns out that nicotine does a number on your brain as you puff cigarettes day-in and day-out, and it can take quite a while to undo the damage.

Why do I feel ill after quitting smoking?

If you feel sick after you stop smoking, you are most likely going through a process called withdrawal. The nicotine withdrawal process can take days, months, or even years.

Soon after you stop using a substance that you’ve become addicted to, your body and mind enter withdrawal. Some withdrawals are chemical and others psychological, but usually, they are both.

With tobacco, acute withdrawals usually last less than a week. Nicotine is a powerfully chemically addictive substance, though, and the pathways your addiction has carved into your brain will take considerable effort to smooth over.

Is it normal to feel worse after quitting smoking?

Most smokers experience some degree of discomfort when they quit. The main reason you smoke is to feel good, after all, and losing that source of pleasure can’t feel good. If you happen to instantly feel better after you stop smoking, consider it to be a miracle, not the norm.

Is it normal for your chest to hurt after quitting smoking?

It's normal for the pleasure of smoking to override growing feelings of discomfort resulting from your habit. Once the source of pleasure (i.e. smoking) is removed, all of the pain and discomfort the habit caused becomes magnified. Over time, quitting should make your respiratory health better, but for the moment, you might have some hard realizations to face as you observe the devastation smoking has wrought on your lungs.

Is headache a symptom of nicotine withdrawal?

Yes, many smokers who quit report experiencing mild to severe headaches after they stop smoking. In the vast majority of cases, these symptoms disappear once the acute withdrawal period is over.

Can you experience muscle and joint pain after quitting smoking?

Feverish aches throughout your musculoskeletal system are very common in the 2-4 days after you quit smoking. In some quitters, this sensation can be so pronounced that a term has been coined to describe the condition: “smoker’s flu.” Aching pain in your muscles and joints due to smoking cessation shouldn’t last longer than a few days.

How long do you feel bad after quitting smoking?

Most people feel fully recovered from their nicotine addiction within a few months, but for some, the after-effects of smoking tobacco can be considerably longer-lasting. If you still feel sick or debilitated on a daily basis two or three months after you quit smoking, consider seeking medical consultation.

What is smoker’s flu?

“Smoker’s flu” is a slang term collectively describing all the common symptoms that usually occur when you quit smoking. Just like a common cold or the flu, quitting tobacco can make you feel under the weather. Don’t worry, though: Unless you’ve just convinced your friends to quit as well, smoker’s flu is not contagious.

How long does smoker’s flu last?

For most quitters, the collection of symptoms known as “smoker’s flu” only persists for a few days. That’s around the amount of time it takes your body to expel the last of the nicotine you ingested and start repairing your neurochemistry.

Getting through quitting: 3 quick tips

Not sure if you’ll make it through the process of letting cigarettes go? Find some solace in these three simple things you can do to make it easier on yourself:

1.) Grab some comfort food

Many smokers who quit report that food is the only thing capable of filling the void left in the absence of cigarettes. If you’ve decided that the pack in your pocket will be your last, prepare to take care of your gastrointestinal needs ahead of time since good ol’ soul food will be your only relief over the next 2-3 days.

2.) Don’t binge, though

If drowning your sorrows with chow is archetypal of the quitting smoking experience, equally archetypal is the protruding gut that usually appears over the first few months of quitting. While food might be your friend in the midst of acute withdrawal symptoms, don’t replace your nicotine addiction with food addiction, or you’ll face even worse health problems down the road.

3.) Take the edge off with hemp

If withdrawals and cravings are still getting you down after the first week or so of quitting, consider picking up a more relaxing (and perhaps healthier) habit: smoking hemp. Lacking all the harmful chemicals present in tobacco cigarettes, organic hemp flower tastes smooth and delivers lasting relaxation even if you only smoke one pre-roll per day.

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