Having a good handle on why you smoke can help you deal with cravings while quitting.
Smoking is an addiction that is made up of three parts: chemical addiction, habits and emotional ties. You might strongly relate to some aspects of addiction described here, but not so much to others. Every smoker is different. What kind of smoker are you?
Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco. It affects the chemicals in your brain and you may feel good for a moment or two after a puff. After you've been smoking for a while, your body gets used to nicotine and relies on it to feel normal.
Do you have any of these signs of nicotine addiction?
- You smoke your first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking up.
- You smoke more than 10 cigarettes per day.
- You have cravings and withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit.
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more about your addiction.
When you go without cigarettes, it's common to feel irritable and anxious, and to find it hard to focus on what you are doing. This is because your body is withdrawing from a chemical addiction.
The power of this addiction is why it's important not to fall into the trap of having ‘just one' when you're quitting. Even after successfully giving up smoking, most people who try to just have an occasional cigarette will return to regular smoking.
All smokers have their own smoking habits. These habits are often tied to certain activities, places or people, like having a cigarette with your morning coffee, during your afternoon break at work, or with your friends when you're out.
Think about when, where and why you smoke.
Being in some situations after you have quit can trigger cravings. Knowing what makes you want to smoke can help you plan how to deal with trigger situations when you're quitting.
- If you usually smoke when you first wake up, have a shower instead.
- If you smoke when you're drinking, switch to non-alcoholic drinks for a while.
How you are feeling can make you want to have a cigarette.
Negative moods such as stress, anger, sadness or frustration might make you feel like smoking. You may smoke for pleasure or to increase your concentration. You might feel like a cigarette when you are happy and want to reward yourself with something you enjoy.
It's important to recognise what feelings make you want to smoke and work out another way to deal with these feelings.
- If you usually smoke when you're stressed, try using a stress ball instead or talk to someone about it.
- If you reward yourself with a cigarette, relax with a hot drink, have a night out with friends or buy your favourite magazine instead.
For more practical tips, visit the Coping with cravings section.