Coping With Cravings When You're Quitting Tobacco

Getting Started

The cravings for nicotine can be intense for the first few days when you quit using tobacco, but they will get better with time. Here are some tips on how to cope.

  • Try using over-the-counter nicotine replacement products, such as gum, lozenges, or patches.

    Ask your doctor about quit-tobacco medicine or nicotine replacement products that require a prescription, like the inhaler or nasal spray.

  • Distract yourself.

    Stop what you're doing, and do something else:

    • Suck on a piece of hard candy.
    • Listen to music.
    • Chew on a toothpick or a piece of gum.
    • Call a friend.
    • Do a puzzle or some other activity that uses your hands.
    • Take on a household task.
    • Drink a glass of water.
  • Try to stay away from others who use tobacco.

    This is important when you first quit. Seeing others use tobacco can often make cravings worse or trigger you to want tobacco.

  • Get active.

    Go for a walk, a bike ride, or a swim.

  • Relax.
    • Try deep-breathing exercises or yoga.
    • Take a hot bath or shower.
  • Occupy your hands.

    Try knitting, reading, or working a puzzle.

  • Give yourself time to let the urge pass.

    Tell yourself you'll wait awhile and see if the urge is still there.

  • Call a friend to get support.
  • Think about your tobacco use and your goals.
    • Remind yourself how hard it was to quit in the first place and all the effort you have put in so far.
    • Think about the benefits of not using tobacco, such as health, pride, and cleanliness.
    • Think about the negative effects of tobacco use, such as shortness of breath, harm to your family, and yellow teeth.
    • Remind yourself that you really don't want to use tobacco and that you only need to avoid it one day at a time.
    • Imagine yourself celebrating your first full year without smoking.

These are just a few ideas you can try to see what might work for you. Maybe they will help you think of other things you can do to help when you have cravings.

Credits

Current as of: November 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine
Andrew Littlefield PhD - Psychology, Behavioral Health

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