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Quit Smoking In Recovery: What To Expect

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Congratulations! You have decided to quit smoking and take action. If you haven’t decided yet, please continue to read; you may need this when you are ready. So far we got ourselves prepared in our first post: Quit Smoking In Recovery: Getting Prepared, and now we are taking that leap of faith into the smoke-free unknown zone. The smoke-free unknown zone is best described as, “Welcome, you now have to feel your feelings and can’t cover them up with a cigarette anymore.” For many smokers, this is a very unrealistic and anxiety provoking request. So how does one go from a smoker to an ex-smoker in recovery?

10 Simple Steps To Quitting Smoking

1.       The day before your quit date, make sure you talk with your support about your fears and uncertainties. Meditate and ask your Higher Power for strength, guidance, and help through the process. Remember this is just like quitting drugs and alcohol. On your own willpower you failed, when you took the action through steps and guidance from a Higher Power you stayed clean and sober. Apply that same attitude to your addiction to nicotine. Simple meditation: “I can’t, he/she can, I think I’ll let them”.

2.       Write out a list of reasons why you don’t want to be a smoker and keep that list near you at all times. You will want to review that from time to time.

3.       Clean! Clean your clothes, car, and living space. Anything that has smoke on it or near it, clean it.

4.       Make sure that you followed any instructions that your doctor gave you to quit (i.e. patches, gum, prescription medications); following directions is a crucial part in any change of bad habits. We did not become addicted overnight, therefore we will not recover overnight. Withdrawals from nicotine can be very powerful and many will pick up smoking again just to deal with the symptoms and cravings.

5.       Drink lots of water and eat healthy. Yes, some people experience weight gain as a side effect – eating right and exercising will help with that.

6.       Start exercising! This is a great way to alleviate anger, anxiety, and temporary depression from not smoking. If you get a craving, drop and do 10 pushups, it works!

7.       Write, Blog, draw, even Facebook about your journey as a non-smoker. Make it a part of your daily routine to express your feelings with not smoking. This is an emotional time and you will be grieving, let it out in a healthy way.

8.       One day at a time, sometimes, one minute at a time. Remember to meditate daily when you get the urge. Cravings only last a few minutes; push through it with breathing exercises, water, and/or a quick exercise. As the days go by you will notice it less and less. Make sure your working your program of recovery into this process. Talk to your sponsor, steps, and meetings.

9.       Get your teeth cleaned, got to the spa, or even treat yourself to products that smell nice. You will notice that your taste buds will change for the better and you will actually smell the products you put on without it being covered by smoke. You will also notice how other smokers smell.

10.    For the time being, stay away from smoke and/or smokers. Sometimes the smell turns people off, but sometimes the smell brings on cravings. No reason to tempt the beast if not necessary.


Signs & Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal

Increased Appetite



Dizziness & Light-Headedness

Insomnia or Sleeping More





Crying & Grieving

Giddiness & Laughter


Physical, as well as the emotional, side effects are usually lessoned by quit smoking aids, like the gum, the patch, and/or prescription medications. Drinking lots of water, eating healthy, and exercising daily encourage a healthier life style and help to continue the desire to stay smoke-free. Your recovery is going to move into a new direction and the growth that comes from quitting yet another addiction is amazing. Many people notice that they used nicotine as a means of dealing with boredom, sadness, loneliness, anger, procrastination, in addition to using it as a tool to socialize or avoid people. Those in recovery may experience a sense of vulnerability and fear that closely reminds them of when they were new in the rooms of recovery. This is not only normal, but expected. The good news is, you are not alone. Keep talking about that fear with your support group and remember that it’s temporary and the longer you stay smoke-free the less fearful you are.

Symptoms, both physical and emotional, can last from a few days to even a few months. If after a few days, weeks, or months you are still dealing with either wanting to smoke or some withdrawal symptoms, it’s normal. This is a process that literally takes one day at a time. It’s rewarding and scary all in the same breath. The idea is to not pick up. Not matter what!

Did you quit smoking or are you quitting nicotine? Keep us posted by writing a comment to this Blog or visiting us on and share your experience, strength, and hope with others! 

Written by: Watershed Ashling

Next article, Quit Smoking In Recovery: Smoke-Free Living, we will go into detail about what it's like to be smoke-free and what changes you can expect after some time away from smoking. 

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