Nicotine Dependence and Withdrawal

Tobacco contains more than 7,000 chemicals that are harmful to people including 70 chemicals that are known to cause cancer. Nicotine is the addictive chemical in tobacco. Knowing if you are dependent on nicotine and knowing about the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can help you to manage better while quitting.

Are you nicotine dependent?
These three questions can help you decide if you are dependent on nicotine:
1. Do you smoke within 30 minutes of waking?
2. Do you smoke 10 or more cigarettes each day?
3. Did you experience cravings and withdrawals last time you tried to quit?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are dependent on nicotine. There are things you can do to help you prepare for quitting and assist you on your quit journey such as:
  • Read the Getting ready to quit smoking fact sheet available on
  • Talk to your doctor
  • Call the Quitline on 13 7848 (13 QUIT).
The good news about quitting
Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term health benefits. From your first day of quitting your body begins to repair itself. Within days your smell and taste improves and your breathing improves making exercise easier. Within one to nine months, coughing and shortness of breath also decrease.

Nicotine withdrawal
People experience nicotine withdrawal differently. Some people find it more challenging than others. Many people find nicotine withdrawal is worst in the first 24 - 48 hours of quitting.
Most people experience some of the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and they usually don’t all happen at once. Withdrawal occurs over time as your body begins to get rid of its dependence on nicotine. It helps to think of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms as ‘recovery symptoms.’ After about two weeks, recovery symptoms are usually less severe.
Using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products (patch, gum, lozenge, inhalator, oral strips and mouth spray) can dramatically reduce symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, provided you use enough NRT each day to control withdrawal symptoms and cravings and consistently use NRT for 8-12 weeks.

This partial guide forms part of our extensive Wellbeing section to which you receive free access as a member of the Wentworth Advantage HR Help Desk Service.

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This document does not constitute human resource or legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should contact the HR Help Desk or seek professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content. © Wentworth Advantage Pty Ltd 2017