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How do I cope with withdrawal symptoms?

Nicotine replacement products - the gum, patches, lozenges, mouth spray and inhalator - help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms. They are sold at pharmacies without prescription.

Quitting medication (Champix and Zyban) also helps to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Quitting medications must be prescribed by a doctor.

If you are concerned about weight gain, talk to a doctor or dietician, and make a sensible eating plan. Weight gain may be delayed while using nicotine gum or bupropion.

Doing exercise you enjoy can help lower stress, reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms and help keep your weight down.

Try doing activities which give you pleasure and a sense of well being, such as reading, getting involved in new or favourite hobbies, or spending more time with friends and family. Perhaps relax by having a massage or spa, doing deep breathing exercises, listening to music, or taking yoga classes.

Try to resist smoking "just one" cigarette. People who smoke occasionally after quitting report having worse withdrawal symptoms. Slip-ups commonly lead to going back to regular smoking.

Remember the good things that are happening to your body as well. Now that you have stopped smoking, your body can start to heal and reverse the damage from cigarettes.

Doing something about managing other sources of stress in your life may help you cope better with withdrawal. Other things which make you tense or frustrated can make your withdrawal symptoms seem worse than they actually are.

Remember the 4Ds:

  • Delay acting on the urge to open a pack and light a cigarette. After a few minutes, the urge to smoke weakens.
  • Deep breathe: Take a long, slow breath, and let it out slowly. Repeat three times.
  • Do something else: Take your mind off smoking by taking action: put on some music, keep your hands busy, go for a walk or ring a friend.
  • Drink water: Sip it slowly, and hold it in your mouth to savour the taste.

You need to understand why you smoke in order to plan how to cope without cigarettes when you quit. You may need to change your behaviour or avoid situations that trigger urges to smoke for a little while. Those who are most successful at resisting the urge to smoke use a range of coping strategies to help them. For more information, advice and support, call Quitline 13 7848.

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