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Handling Cravings After Quitting Smoking

After quitting smoking cravings will usually begin within an hour or so after your last cigarette, they will then peak for several days, and may last for weeks. The urge to smoke a cigarette will come and go. During the first week of quitting is when your cravings will be the strongest. Don’t worry, cravings typically will only last for a short time. Sometimes you may experience cravings that follow each other in rapid succession. As the day goes on, your cravings should get farther apart.

People who smoke are accustom to having a certain level of nicotine in their body. They control that level by how much they smoke, how deeply they inhale the tobacco smoke, and by the type of tobacco they use. After quitting smoking, you will develop cravings because your body wants more of it. Being exposed to smoking triggers or even when you use minor amounts of nicotine, your mood will change, and the cravings for a cigarette can go up as well as your heart rate and blood pressure. Cravings are NOT “just in your head”.

When you do find yourself having a craving for a cigarette, remind yourself that the craving will pass. Try chewing some gum or having a piece of hard candy (preferably sugar-free). Keeping something in your mouth can help with the psychological desire to smoke a cigarette. Get some exercise. Take deep breaths through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Try to repeat this 10 times. Be sure to avoid activities and situations that you normally associate with smoking.

Nicotine cravings may be reduced by using nicotine replacement products, which deliver small, steady doses of nicotine to the body. Nicotine replacement products such as, nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and nicotine lozenge, appear to be equally effective. Buproprion pills (which don’t contain nicotine) such as, Zyban or Wellbutrin also help relieve withdrawal symptoms.

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