When you stop smoking, the first few days can be the most tormenting. It’s like going through hell. In fact, going through hell is even an understatement. It is so because of what is popularly known as cigarette or tobacco or nicotine cravings. Most smokers have to contend with cravings or urges when they decide to drop off cigarettes. To succeed with your stop smoking attempts, you must learn how to fight off such cravings or urges.
Smokers trying to quit go through two types of cravings (psychological and physical) in the initial stages of smoking cessation.
Psychological or Mental cravings are elicited by what you do daily. They are your daily habits or routines. These habits are the unconscious voices that urge you to continue smoking. When you quit, those voices will set off the urge through activities that your mind has come to associate with smoking such as drinking coffee or alcohol, eating, driving, or simply relaxing. Usually, mental and physical cravings generate the same sensations in our bodies.
Cigarette contains a highly addictive substance called nicotine. It is the nicotine inside cigarettes that causes dependence and when you cease smoking, your body starts protesting the loss of a routine (or friend, if you like). Due to this, you might develop anxiety, have a headache, become sleepless, irritable and have difficulty concentrating. These emotional and psychological symptoms may be on for several weeks as you battle to adjust to the absence of cigarettes and subsequently, nicotine.
This article titled: reprogram your mind to quit smoking will help you understand psychological cravings better.
Physical or bodily cravings are your body system’s reaction to the absence of nicotine. You may feel a bit tense in your abdomen or throat, while feelings of anxiety can also not be ruled out.
What Causes Cravings?
Nicotine causes cravings. It’s because of the way this highly addictive substance works. What it does is to simply stimulate the brain’s pleasure spots. Due to the enjoyment and pleasure this brings to the body, the brain keeps asking for more, more and more. When the brain notices a deficit in the supply of nicotine, cravings set in. They can also start whenever you get a “signal” that it’s time to smoke. This signal is triggered off by anything your brain links with smoking – an event, an emotion, an object, stress or anxiety. For instance, if you always smoke while sipping coffee, you might not be able to get past the first sip without feeling a strong urge to light up.
Wiki Answers lends credence to this fact. According to it, “Cigarette cravings are predominantly a result of the addictive nature of nicotine. The craving itself is a message from the brain asking for more nicotine. That is why even if you smoke something in response to the craving and that something doesn’t contain nicotine, the craving will not go away.”
How Long Do Nicotine Cravings Last?
Each time quitters ask about nicotine craving duration, we tell them that even though cravings are hard-hitting, they disappear quickly. Normally, a craving will last three to five minutes, and then go away, whether you smoke or not. As soon as the craving goes away, there is absolutely no need to smoke that next cigarette. But in the first few days of cessation, the cravings are going to come in quick succession and to successfully renounce cigarettes, you’ll have to be ready to beat or fight off those cravings three to five minutes at a time. If you are one of those asking when nicotine cravings will stop, please know that they will never stop, even if you last smoked 1 year ago, you may still experience cravings but not with the intensity with which they came immediately after you smoked your last cigarette. Your addiction to nicotine did not develop overnight, nor will your cravings vanish overnight.
Tobacco cravings are usually at their strongest three to five days after smoking cessation, and they stay like that for a couple of weeks. After that, your brain gradually adapts to a life without nicotine, but you won’t be totally free. Any time your brain gets a cue or signal that it’s time to smoke, it will request for a puff. Most quitters have to battle intermittent urges for no less than 12 months. But one way to finally nail the coffin of cravings is to start thinking and seeing yourself as a non-smoker. After all, we are what we think and see. And when you’re a non-smoker (not just a quitter), it will require more than just a bit of stress or the aroma of cigarette to make you want to smoke again.
Nicotine Craving Symptoms
Nicotine craving symptoms manifest in several ways including a strong urge to smoke, irritability, touchiness, sleeplessness, difficulty in concentration, tiredness, headache, cough, sore throat, constipation, nervousness, vomiting,a great appetite and so on. These symptoms manifest a few hours after you’ve smoked your last cigarette and can last a few days up to several weeks.
How to Get Rid of Cravings
The first step to getting rid of urges is to identify cigarette cravings for what they are: a trick from a predominantly naughty part of the brain. When a craving surfaces, just dismiss it as such.
Identifying a craving is only the first step. You have to be ready to take decisive action to avoid a relapse. Whatever you can do to distract yourself for those few minutes can make or mar your stop smoking efforts. Considering the fact that you may not be thinking clearly when that craving surfaces, make sure to plan ahead.
Ways to Handle Cravings or Urges
Your options for getting through a craving are unlimited. They include the following and more:
*Positive thought is very powerful in the battle against cravings,so,engage it without any reservations.Everyday when you wake up,have a positive mental attitude,know that whatever the form the cravings will manifest,you will overcome.Never give in to negative thoughts as they will weaken your resolve to stop smoking. Always tell yourself,”I can do it!” And do it,you will.
* Throughout the three to five minutes that the craving will last, have a glass of water and take a sip now and then. Not only will this reduce the urge to light up, it also keeps your hands busy. The extra water will also help to flush the nicotine out of your body.
* Exercise whenever you feel the urge to smoke. Studies show that taking some aerobic or cardiovascular exercises can make a big difference in overcoming cravings. A University of Western Ontario research lends credence to this fact in a publication titled: Sweating out the Cravings. The research team, headed by Dr. Harry Prapavessis, insisted that “supervised exercise in addition to pharmacological agents like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) helps smoking cessation, improves physical fitness, and delays weight gain in women smokers.”
After the exercise, treat yourself to a refreshing bath.
* You may try to do other things to distract yourself from smoking like doing a puzzle, sucking on a sugar-free sweet or chewing some gum or a piece of hard candy. Some people who have tried quitting may recommend you to put something in your mouth that has no calories, such as a stirrer, toothpick, or another replacement for a cigarette. They say it keeps your mind off the craving for a smoke.
* You may also try going for a walk around your neighborhood each time you feel like smoking. If you don’t want to step out of your house or office, you can just get up and move around for five minutes. It will help the urge pass away. As you fight the cravings, they become less frequent and you are able to refrain from smoking.
* You may also want to avoid places and events where you may come across a lot of smokers, because you might be tempted to join their fun. If you are the kind of person who associates smoking with drinking, then you may want to avoid drinking alcohol as well. Keep your mind off the idea of smoking, and keep yourself busy so as to stay a quitter.
* Breathe in and out. When breathing in,make sure to take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and breathe out as if you had just taken your first puff on a cigarette. Part of the sensation you get from smoking is a direct result of taking a deep breath. A deep breath allows you to take in a maximum amount of oxygen, and exhaling lets out large quantities of carbon dioxide. This results in a feeling of relaxation. Try it, you’ll see.
* Get busy with something, anything, for the next five minutes. It’s better if what you are busy with is a hobby which you feel excited about. This way your mind is taken off the urge to smoke totally, you concentrate 100% on your hobby.
* Think of why you are quitting, and stay focused. Remind yourself of your reasons to stop smoking, and constantly reaffirm to yourself that you are tough enough to win the fight against smoking. Don’t you ever assume that a single stick will have no effect on your struggle to stop; otherwise you might commence from the very beginning again.
* Try your possible best to drink plenty of fruit juice for the first three days.This will help keep your blood sugar level. Also,try not to skip your meals; eat a balanced diet and reduce your caffeine intake drastically.
I Can’t Resist Cravings,What Should I do?
At 2stopsmokingtips.com, we believe nicotine cravings can be overpowered but if you feel like your cravings are too strong to resist even for a few minutes, talk to your counselor or doctor about your options, or join a quit smoking support group. You need a strong support system to get through nicotine craving symptoms. You may also want to use a nicotine replacement therapy like the patch or stop smoking pills.They can help manage your cravings and make it easier to quit.
Whatever approach you take, remember that every craving will pass. No matter what your brain tells you, neither you nor your body needs that next cigarette.
In most cases, it takes about 7 days to get the nicotine out of your system, everything else is purely emotional and a matter of routine. Just stay strong; you can do it with your willpower and determination!
More Smoking Cessation Resources
That pretty much sums up this article on how to stop nicotine cravings when you quit smoking. Hope you find it eye-opening.