Characterization of tobacco withdrawal symptoms: transdermal nicotine reduces hunger and weight gain

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1996 Nov;128(2):130-8. doi: 10.1007/s002130050118.


The accurate assessment of both tobacco withdrawal and the impact of the nicotine patch on withdrawal may be compromised by attrition of subjects, or by subjects smoking during withdrawal. To reduce these occurrences, 211 participants were provided with intensive cessation counseling while trying to quit smoking with either nicotine (21 mg) or placebo transdermal patches. Subject attrition was low, with 80.5% of participants continuing through the 5-week study period. Abstinence rates were also high over this period (75% and 61% in active and placebo groups, respectively). In this multisite, double-blind trial, withdrawal severity was assessed using a nine-item daily self-report questionnaire, and abstinence was confirmed via CO monitoring. Abrupt smoking cessation increased multiple tobacco withdrawal symptoms/signs including craving for cigarettes, irritability, anxiety, appetite, sleep disruption, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, depression, and impatience. Treatment with transdermal nicotine reduced craving for cigarettes, anxiety, irritability, and appetite, as well as weight gain (1.85 versus 2.88 kg mean gain over 4 weeks in active and placebo groups, respectively).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Erythema / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Headache / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Hunger / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Minnesota
  • Nicotine / adverse effects
  • Nicotine / therapeutic use*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / adverse effects
  • Nicotinic Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Weight Gain / drug effects*
  • Wisconsin


  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Nicotine