Human Pharmacology Original Investigations


, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 35-39

First online:

Smoking withdrawal symptoms in two weeks of abstinence

  • Saul M. ShiffmanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of CaliforniaDepartment of Psychiatry, Veterans Administration Hospital Brentwood
  • , Murray E. JarvikAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Veterans Administration Hospital BrentwoodVeterans Administration Hospital Brentwood

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In order to study trends in smoking withdrawal symptoms, 35 participants in a smoking cessation clinic completed four questionnaires daily for 2 weeks. The questionnaire dealt with a variety of symptoms which a factor analysis showed could be grouped into four factors: stimulation, desire to smoke, and physical and psychological symptoms. Changes were observed in reports of symptoms over days. Trend analyses found that each symptom group except stimulation showed significant patterns or changes as a function of days in abstinence. These symptom clusters were all found to have U-shaped functions. In addition, desire to smoke and psychological symptoms showed linear decreases as abstinence proceeded. Light and heavy smokers were found to differ in the pattern of reported stimulation.Ss who were totally abstinent reported less severe craving overall for cigarettes than those who only reduced their cigarette consumption by an average of 60%. Also, the craving of totally abstinentSs dropped off more sharply as abstinence proceeded. The import of these patterns and trends in withdrawal symptoms as a function of time is discussed.

Key words

Cigarette smoking Withdrawal syndrome Abstinence syndrome