Dealing with Cravings
Even though you’ve officially quit smoking, the urge to smoke may come and go. Many times, cravings can result from being hungry, angry, lonely, tired, or bored. Think back to your triggers for smoking and use your action plan for how you’ll deal with cravings and keep the tips below in mind to help you through them. Remember that trying something to beat the urge is always better than trying nothing.
- Keep other foods around that can help you get through a craving. Try carrots, pickles, sunflower seeds, apples, celery, raisins, licorice or sugarfree gum.
- Wash your hands when you have an intense craving.
- Stay busy, especially with activities that use your hands.
- Don’t get down on yourself.
- Think positively and find healthy outlets for stress or anger. If something bothers you, learn to relax quickly by taking deep breaths. Take 10 slow, deep breaths and hold the last one. Then breathe out slowly.
- Picture a soothing, pleasant scene. Think only about that peaceful image and nothing else.
- Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.
- Go outside, or move to a different room. Try changing what you are doing.
Remember, having just one cigarette will hurt. Don’t allow yourself to go down the path of justifying the urge to smoke. It will undo the work, commitment and progress you’ve made thus far.
Months or Years After You’ve Quit
Cravings can pop up even after you’ve been smoke-free for months or even years. What if you do smoke? The difference between a slip and a relapse – going back to smoking as you used to – is within your control. You can use the slip as an excuse to go back to smoking, or you can look at what went wrong, learn from what happened, and renew your commitment to staying smoke-free.
If you do relapse, try not to get too discouraged. Quitting smoking is difficult and it takes most people several attempts before they quit for life. What’s important is understanding what helped you in your attempt to quit and what worked against you. You can then use this information to make a stronger attempt at quitting the next time.
It’s important to remember that substituting other forms of tobacco, like low tar/nicotine cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, pipes or cigars is not a safe alternative to smoking. These products contain nicotine, are harmful to your health, and do not reduce your risk of smoking-related disease.
When you quit smoking, your risk of stroke decreases steadily. Former smokers have the same stroke risk as nonsmokers after 5 to 15 years.