Stop Smoking – Controlling Your Craving and Urges
The average smoker (30 cigarettes per day) has 4 to 6 times the chance of having heart disease if he’s in the 45-54 year age group.
In order to stay on your course to stop smoking, you’ll have to keep vigilant and guard against the temptations that could cause you to slip up. If only lures would go away, now that you’ve stopped smoking!
Unfortunately, they don’t. Not for a while. In the first few months, when you see or taste a cup of coffee or make a telephone call, you may be just as likely to get an urge for a cigarette as you did when you were a smoker.
After Two Weeks of Your Last Cigarette
By the time you’ve been off cigarettes over two weeks, the frequency of your urges is going way down. But some urges can still be real killers. Here’s one consolation: The worst is over! The nicotine is gone from your system, most physical withdrawal symptoms are sharply reduced, and the frequency of those urges and cravings is going down.
That means the cravings you’re experiencing are coming from your mind, not from your body. Try not to be discouraged or frustrated by this. Habits you’ve had for years are not some- thing that will disappear overnight. The important thing is to recognize where the urges are coming from and to use that knowledge to fight the craving.
After A Month
As the months go by, you’ll start to notice that even your mental cravings are becoming more like thoughts than strong drives. Ex-smokers who have been off cigarettes for a long time say they still have thoughts about cigarettes, but not pressing urges.
It’s a bit like what happens when you hear old hit songs. The music evokes thoughts of your high school days, and the friends you knew then – but you don’t feel any urge to in fact go back to cramming for exams and agonizing over acne.
Of course, some ex-smokers who want to boost their own egos often brag that they’re still fighting urges to smoke every day. But they’re generally just trying to make themselves appear strong, while frightening others from even attempting to quit smoking.
How to Overcome These Temptations?
So how can you deal with these temptations, now that smoking is out of the question? You can deal by creative alternatives and evaluating your situation. Now is a good time to reevaluate your temptations and your plans for coping with them.
As your physical cravings have reduced, you’ve probably noticed that the temptations that used to affect you may no longer be the ones that bother you now.
Cigarettes and cigarette packages are still likely to be your strongest temptations. You got rid of all your cigarettes when you quit smoking. But now is the time to do a double check of all the places where you used to keep them, the obvious places, such as cigarette boxes.
And the not so obvious places, such as the side pocket of a suitcase. It’s significant to make sure you actually got rid of every last one, because one of the easiest ways to fall off the wagon – particularly when you are feeling confident that you have mastered your desire for cigarettes – is to come across a couple of leftover cigarettes.
Tips for Handling Urges
- Take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and exhale as if you had just taken your first puff on a cigarette. Part of the feeling 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.
- Take a sip of water several times during this five minute period. It can help to diminish the need to smoke, and gives you something to do with your hands. The extra water will also help to flush the nicotine out of your body.
- Put something in your mouth that has no calories, such as a stirrer, toothpick, or another substitute for a cigarette.
- Get busy with something, anything, to keep you busy for the next five minutes.
- As long as it does not lead to a craving, chew a piece of gum or a piece of hard candy. Life Savers work well.
- Get up and move around for five minutes. It will help the urge to smoke to pass.
- Use a nicotine patch as replacement therapy.
The Dangers of False “Smoke-Safe” Solutions
The tobacco companies have brought out several cigarettes they’d like us to believe are safer than regular cigarettes. A product called Eclipse burns a piece of charcoal. The smoke from the charcoal passes over beads with nicotine extract on them.
The heat from this releases some of the nicotine and flavorings, so the smoker inhales the charcoal smoke, the nicotine, and the flavorings. These devices are lit, and they burn. So you’re still inhaling smoke.
The tobacco companies advertise these products with words like “cleaner.” They want you to think “safer” but they can’t say that because then the government would regulate the product, as Congress requires the regulation of all products that make health claims.
There’s little doubt that these products – providing inhaled charcoal smoke – are not safe. The American Lung Association and other smoking experts believe there is no such thing as a safe cigarette.
Because these devices may reduce the amount of noticeable exhaled and side-stream smoke, they may be deemed acceptable for use in settings where smoking is prohibited – such as workplaces. But smokers using such products may not be helped to quit. In fact, they may wind up smoking more cigarettes to get their usual nicotine.
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