Quitting without Using a Medicine

Family preparing dinner

You may be considering quitting smoking “cold turkey” without using a medicine. Some people who decide not to use a quit-smoking medicine just stop smoking right away, others cut back on how many cigarettes they smoke for a few weeks before quitting completely. Some people quit on their own, others get help and support from a quit coach or their doctor or other healthcare provider.


  • Don’t have to spend any money on medicines.
  • Don’t have to see your doctor or go to a pharmacy.
  • There is no risk of medication side effects.


  • Most people who quit without medicines experience worse withdrawal symptoms.
  • You may have to deal with stronger and more frequent urges and cravings.
  • If you smoke a half a pack a day or more, you are less likely to succeed at quitting for good.

Possible side effects (and what to do about them):

  • You are likely to have worse withdrawal symptoms, including: Urges and cravings to smoke, feeling irritated or upset, feeling jumpy and restless, having a hard time concentrating, having trouble sleeping, feeling hungrier or gaining weight, and feeling anxious, sad or depressed. (Learn some tips that can help you deal with these)

If you are thinking about quitting without using a medicine, strongly consider talking with a quit coach or your doctor for help dealing with urges and cravings.

You are especially likely to benefit from using a medicine if you smoke a half a pack of cigarettes or more a day, struggled with urges and cravings when you tried to quit before, or have never stayed quit for more than a week.

If quitting is harder than you expected when you try, you can revisit using medicines to help. You don’t even have to wait until you smoke a cigarette to do this. You can keep nicotine gum or lozenges on hand, just in case you find that urges and cravings are stronger than you expected.