How to Manage Cravings

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You won't be able to avoid all of your triggers. And learning how to deal with triggers takes practice. So, when a craving is triggered, it's important to have a plan to beat that urge to smoke. Cravings typically last 5 to 10 minutes. It might be uncomfortable, but try to wait it out. Make a list of things you can do to get through the craving. Here are a few to try.

Get Support

  • Call or text someone. You don't have to do this alone. Learn how to lean on people you trust.
  • Use the National Cancer Institute's quitline. Call 1-877-44U-QUIT to talk with an expert for free.
  • Try SmokefreeTXT. Sign up to get 24/7 support sent right to your phone.
  • Chat with a counselor. Get real-time help from the National Cancer Institute.
  • Use an app. The QuitGuide app allows you to track cravings and slips by time of day and location, and has many other features to help you become smokefree.

Think About Your Reasons for Quitting

  • Review your reasons. Remind yourself why you want to quit. This can be a powerful motivator to keep you smokefree.
  • Calculate your savings. Cigarettes are expensive! Add up the money you'll save, and decide what to do with it. This is a great way to stay motivated and kill time while you let a craving pass.

Stay Busy

  • Keep your mouth busy. Chew a stick of gum instead of picking up a cigarette. Keep hard candy with you. Drink more water.
  • Do something else. When a craving hits, stop what you're doing immediately and switch to doing something different. Simply changing your routine might help you shake off a craving.
  • Go for a walk or jog. Or go up and down the stairs a few times. Physical activity, even in short bursts, can help boost your energy and beat a craving.
  • Take slow, deep breaths. Breathe through your craving. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat this 10 times or until you're feeling more relaxed.

Go to a Smokefree Zone

  • Visit a public place. Most public places don't allow smoking. Go to a movie, a store, or another smokefree place where you can't smoke.
  • Practice what you already do. What have you done before when you found yourself in a smokefree place? Tap into that same approach when your next craving comes along.

Try Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Even if you use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), you might have a craving that's difficult to deal with. Think about trying a short-acting NRT, such as a lozenge or gum, plus long-acting NRT, such as the patch, to get past the craving.

Don't Give Up

Do whatever it takes to beat the urge to smoke. Keep trying different things until you find what works for you. Just don't smoke. Not even one puff!

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