Craving for a Puff?
Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to man. Powerful and very fast-acting, it is the chemical which causes one to be addicted to cigarettes. Nicotine stimulates the areas of the brain that are pleasure-related, producing feelings of relaxation and reduced anxiety. This is why many smokers view smoking as a source of stress relief when they are under pressure.
Nicotine Cravings and Withdrawal Symptoms
Over time as you continue to smoke, your body learns to depend more and more on nicotine. As a result, when you stop smoking you get 'nicotine cravings' along with other withdrawal symptoms like headaches, sore throat, insomnia, cough, anxiety, increased appetite, weight gain, lack of concentration and so on. So smoking lands one in a vicious “pleasure-discomfort” cycle; hard for some to snap out of.
As you quit, experiencing withdrawal symptoms and cravings is the way your body reacts when it is deprived of nicotine and all the other chemicals in tobacco smoke. Withdrawal symptoms will come and go over a period of a few days to about three weeks, and not every smoker is affected by these withdrawal symptoms to the same degree.
As for cravings, they last about three to five minutes each and may be intense in the highly nicotine-dependent individual. However, as you continue to deny yourself cigarettes, the cravings will happen less often and become less intense. And before long, you’ll be independent of nicotine and free from the tight clutches of cigarettes! Few smokers quit without getting cravings so if you want to succeed you must get through them.
You may consider trying some of the following tips:
- Confront cravings head on and overcome your urge to smoke with sheer determination. Discard all cigarettes, lighters, ash trays and anything that reminds you of smoking.
- Focus on the reasons you decided to quit and pin them up in your office, home or your favourite smoking corners as motivators.
- Pen down a few things you would do instead of smoking when you are hit with a craving. For example, “I’ll do a five-minute manicure when I feel like smoking.”
- Take three or four deep breaths during cravings. Breathe in slowly through the nose and fill your lungs, then breathe out again slowly through the mouth. Repeat till your craving passes.
- For the weight-conscious, sip a glass of plain water slowly and try to savour its taste if you experience increased appetite while quitting.
- Stay busy and take your mind off smoking by taking a walk, doing an odd job around the home, working in the garden or ringing a friend!
- Speak to your pharmacist, smoking cessation counsellor, friends or relatives for encouragement when you feel too weak to move on with your quit plan.
Most importantly, never feel lousy about yourself if you succumb to the temptation of lighting up when you are hit by a craving. Try again! A smoker usually needs a few tries to quit successfully and your friendly pharmacists and smoking cessation counsellors will always be around to guide you should you need help. Hang in there! Here’s to your success and a set of cleaner lungs.