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Cold Turkey Withdrawal – How to Avoid It

Dear Advisor,

I’m planning to quit smoking soon, and I’m wondering, what are the withdrawal symptoms of quitting smoking cold turkey?

Cold-Turkey Quitter

Dear Cold-Turkey Quitter,

There are many withdrawal symptoms that can occur when you quit smoking cold turkey.  They include headaches, anxiety, itchiness, insomnia, restlessness, muscle cramps, fatigue, cotton mouth, heart palpitations, drowsiness, sore throat, poor concentration, tremors, constipation, digestive problems, irritability, hunger, thirst, dizziness, sensitivity, and the list goes on.

Yes, it’s a long list of symptoms, most of which are a result of the rapid depletion of nicotine from your body that happens when you quit cold turkey.

The good news is, even if you do decide to quit cold turkey, it’s very unlikely that you’ll experience all of these symptoms. The even better news is that there are ways to minimize the withdrawal symptoms you do experience.

The simplest way to minimize withdrawal symptoms is to reduce your nicotine intake gradually over time. You can do this either by using a nicotine replacement product like a nicotine patch or gum, or you can use a technique called nicotine fading. If you decide to try a nicotine replacement product, just follow the instructions on the product package – most are designed to gradually reduce nicotine.

The nicotine fading technique is a natural technique for reducing the amount of nicotine you get while you are still smoking, until you quit completely. The advantage of this technique is that there are no side effects from the technique itself, and it can significantly minimize nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

To use the nicotine fading technique, you’ll need to decrease the amount of nicotine you get from the cigarettes that you smoke by gradually cutting down the number of cigarettes you smoke every day, and/or switching to lower nicotine brands over a period of time. You can learn a little more about this technique here: Quit Smoking Gradually.  The key is to do in a structured, planned-out way.

A structured nicotine fading plan is one of the techniques I use in my Complete Quit System, which is a step-by-step quit smoking program designed to eliminate both the physical addiction to nicotine, and more importantly, the psychological addiction to smoking.  If you’re planning to quit, consider checking it out.

By the way, if you’re willing to take a few minutes to provide me some feedback on my newly designed website for the Complete Quit System, I’ll reward you with an opportunity to get the Complete Quit System program at a significant discount as part of the launch of our community support project.   Take a look at the website, and then complete the feedback survey.

If you like, you can learn more about the Community Support Project here.


If you found this information useful, or have suggestions you think may be helpful to others, leave a comment and share your experience. Have you ever tried to quit smoking cold turkey? What kind of symptoms did you experience? 

If you haven’t managed to quit yet, but still want to, read more about the Complete Quit System and how it deals with the psychological aspects of quitting.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • amy swanson October 6, 2011, 8:15 PM

    i am quiting cold turkey and i have many of those symtoms if not all of them….i cant afford the gum or any other non-smoking items…i do end up having a couple ciggs through the day, and then just makes me want more because i hate feeling the way im feeling when i dont smoke….i need to seriously quit for my health, and i have a grandbaby coming soon…vip to me…what other things can you do to help quit without smoking…
    thank you


  • Brett September 15, 2016, 12:14 AM

    You can’t cheat it man. Have to drop this habit like a rock. Toss the smokes in the trash, forget them.

    All they do is kill us. Well they make a lot of other people rich as well, but for us its just death.

    We need to quit man and I just freaking started. 12 hours into a 12 year habit.

    I have to believe I can do this. I DO believe I can do this.

    So I have to believe you can too man.

    We can do this. We need to do this.

    We will do this.

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