Nicotine cravings are notoriously brutal. They seem to sneak up on you out of nowhere and hijack your thoughts, making you fixated on having a cigarette to the exclusion of every other care in the world. At that moment the desire to smoke is overwhelming, and it feels like it will never go away until you satisfy it.
Although often lumped in as a symptom of withdrawal, cravings can strike you days, weeks, months, or even years after you quit—long after your body has been liberated of nicotine and long after you endured the insomnia, depression, irritability and other acute withdrawal symptoms.
You need to fight those cravings, since every one of them has the potential to throw you right back into smoking, right back into the most dangerous addiction you may ever know. And after having overcome your smoking addiction despite the many difficulties, the last thing you want to do is get back into it, especially since, despite how they feel, cravings generally don’t last more than a few minutes.
Here are some tips to fight off those cravings when they come:
- Get some quick exercise, like taking a walk around the block, riding a bike, or playing a video console like Wii, something that distracts and gets your activity level up. Just don’t walk or bike in the direction of a gas station or market, where cigarettes are available!
- Call an old friend (who doesn’t smoke).
- Play Sudoku, or start a crossword puzzle—something mentally challenging.
- Blog about your cravings, if you’re a blogger. Blog about every one of them if it helps. If blogs don’t interest you, keep a journal (computer or by hand, whichever you’re comfortable with). However, don’t focus your writings on how badly you want a cigarette; focus them on the positives in your life, the health benefits, since you’ve quit.
- Take a shower or if you can, hop into a pool.
Remind yourself that a craving will only nag at you for a few minutes.
- Brush your teeth and rinse with mouthwash, enjoy the fresh feeling.
Remember that the penalty of giving in to your craving is stark—you’ll have to start all over again, through the withdrawals and everything, because this won’t be just one cigarette. If you give in to this craving, what will prevent you from giving in to the next and the next until you’re addicted all over again?
The bottom line: Cravings generally don’t last more than a few minutes. Don’t allow a short-lived craving to shorten your life by giving in to it. It will not be worth it. Not one time, not ever.
Facts about Nicotine
How Long do Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
Side Effects of Nicotine
Long Term Effects of Nicotine