I’ve Quit Tobacco, Now What?

Written by Lindsey Mcilvena, MD, MPH

Weaning meds, watching for withdrawal, everything you need to know to stay quit.

First take a deep breath, and slow your roll.

The most important thing at this point is to stay off tobacco, so don't be in a rush to get off the chantix, bupropion, or nicotine replacement (NRT) quickly. Many people do best being on the medications for at least 3-6 months, and in many cases, quite a bit longer. So take a deep breath and relax, the hardest part should be over - you've quit!

How do I know if I'm ready to wean my smoking cessation medicine?

If it's been more than one month on your current regimen, and you aren't having moderate or severe withdrawal symptoms, then if might be a good time to start weaning the medicine. Typically it’s best to change only one medicine at a time and not more frequently than once a month. For example if you're on twice daily bupropion, nicotine gum, and a 21mg patch the first thing we would do when starting to wean is change you to a 14mg patch and keep everything else the same. If you're on chantix we would have you go from twice a day dosing to once a day.

Have patience, you've done the hard work of quitting, so don't worry too much about getting off the medications quickly. The main goal is to be tobacco free.

Before you decrease or stop your medications, figure out where your withdrawal level is.

Go here to assess your level of nicotine withdrawal. If it’s mild and you’re feeling gung-ho, talk to your doctor about lessening your medication. If you've only recently quit and are just NOW starting to feel no withdrawal, it may be a good idea to sit tight at the same dose of medications for another week or two - there’s no need to rush.

I weaned the smoking cessation medicine and now I'm having severe withdrawal!

If you've gone here to assess your level of withdrawal and it is moderate to severe, it's time to do something.

Reach out to your doctor and to decide if it's best to go back to the previous dose of medication, or just have you load up on "rescue nicotine" (gum, lozenges, puffer, nasal spray). It can feel like you have to be on medication for a long time, but in the grand scheme of how many years you used tobacco, a few more months of medication isn't much!

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of HeyDoctor, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

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