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Substance Use: Pregnancy and Quitting Smoking

Nicotine Recovery

​​​​​​What can I expect when I quit?

Tobacco has a very strong, addictive drug in it called nicotine. When you use tobacco in any form your body becomes used to the effects of nicotine. When you go without nicotine, because you cut back or quit smoking, your body and brain need time to adjust to this change. This adjustment is called nicotine recovery.

Recovery can start as soon as 30 minutes after you last used tobacco. The longest recovery symptoms last about 4 weeks.

Recovery Symptoms

You find you: Try doing this:
    • have a cough and a sore throat
  • use cough drops
  • sip warm, decaffeinated tea
    • feel grumpy or irritable
  • let others know what you are going through
  • be easy on yourself
  • try to lighten your work load
  • go for a walk
  • don’t eat or drink things with caffeine in them
    • are hungrier than usual
  • eat low-fat snacks like fruit, popcorn, vegetables or pretzels
  • drink water
  • suck on a hard sugar-free candy
    • feel dizzy and have headaches
  • get fresh air
  • sit when you feel dizzy
  • take a nap
    • have a short attention span
  • take a walk
  • work in short bursts instead of for long periods
  • get lots of sleep
    • are constipated
  • eat more fruit, vegetables, and bran cereal
  • drink enough water to keep your urine (pee) pale yellow
    • feel restless
  • go for a walk
  • keep your hands busy
  • don’t eat or drink things with caffeine in them
    • are having trouble sleeping or staying asleep
  • don’t eat or drink things with caffeine in them
  • go to bed when you’re tired
  • get up and read, or do something you enjoy until you feel sleepy

When you’re pregnant and/or when you’re quitting smoking, your body changes how it breaks down caffeine. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cola pop and energy drinks. This drug is broken down much more slowly after you quit smoking and can cause you to feel unwell. This means you may feel shaky, anxious, or have other symptoms related to using caffeine that are similar to nicotine recovery. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn more.

If you have any concerns with these (or other) symptoms or changes you are going through, or if you find you’re feeling depressed, speak with your healthcare provider or call Health Link at 8​11​.

Current as of: September 5, 2019

Author: Tobacco Reduction Program, Alberta Health Services