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The Stages of Quitting Smoking

Stage 1: Agitation

Anxiety, muscular tension, irritability, difficulty sleeping, high craving. You've probably already experienced this innumerable times during your smoking career (this is when you root through the ashtrays looking for butts). It generally begins a few hours after your last cigarette and lasts for a day or two.

Stage 2: Slump

You feel depressed, fatigued, jittery, are forgetful, short-tempered, and emotionally volatile. You may also have trouble sleeping. You continually crave a cigarette. This may last for several days

Stage 3: Honeymoon

Somewhere in the first 10 days after your last cigarette, you start feeling better. A lot better. Your mood improves and your energy returns. Craving is still present but manageable. The danger is you'll become overconfident.

Stage 4: Second Slump

It's hard to pin down, but for most of our patients, this second slump begins two to six weeks after the last cigarette. Craving may return along with episodes of nervousness, irritability, sleep disruption, flu-like symptoms, and fatigue.

Stage 5: Second Honeymoon

Begins four to six weeks after the last dose. Improvement in the above symptoms leads to the conclusion that danger of relapse has past and withdrawal is over.

Stage 6: Relapse Phase

Most ex-smokers experience at least one more noticeable "slump" during the first four months of abstinence. Craving returns, and with it, the risk of relapse. To get through it, you have to avoid exposing yourself to risky situations.

Stage 7: Stabilization

Once the last of the initial slumps has ended, things stabilize. Craving is largely the result of conditioned responses (e.g., to smells, activities) which can be avoided. Abstinence is fairly comfortable with the exception of periods of unusual stress, recurrent craving, and occasional strong memories of pleasures associated with smoking.

Patience is the key here......keep going in your quit, and all these stages will soon become history....


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Updated March 2019