The Cravings Timeline After Quitting Smoking

Quitting Smoking – The Cravings Timeline

Cravings are usually strongest during the first few days and weeks after you quit smoking. They’ll come and go throughout the day. If you get a craving, distract yourself with something else. Eat a healthy snack or chew on something to keep your hands busy.

It may take up to three months for your brain chemistry to return to normal after you stop smoking. But the first few days are the toughest.

1 hour after a cigarette

Within the first hour after your last cigarette, nicotine levels drop by about 50%. This is when your body starts to withdraw from the drug, so cravings are at their strongest. It’s also when you may feel a lot of anxiety and irritability, which can last a while. It can be helpful to distract yourself during this time with activities like playing a sport, taking a shower or going for a walk. Alternatively, you could try using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) like patches, lozenges, gum or sprays, which will supply you with the drug and help you to quit smoking.

The next few hours will see a normalisation of blood sugar levels, which can cause unusual hunger in some people. It’s also common to experience a tingling sensation in the hands and feet, which is due to circulation returning to normal. Some smokers find that coffee or tea doesn’t taste the same without a cigarette.

Your metabolism will return to its normal rate, so you’re likely to lose some weight. You may also experience flatulence or constipation as your intestinal movements slow down, but this should subside after a few weeks. If you have any underlying conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes, it’s important to monitor your symptoms closely and visit your doctor if necessary.

In this period, you’ll also notice that your lungs are starting to heal as inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which lead from the mouth into the lungs, begins to decrease. You’ll also be able to breathe more easily as the lining of your lungs start to recover and the fibres that keep pathogens and irritants away from your lungs begin to move again.

This is the stage when many smokers cave in and have a cigarette to try and relieve their cravings. This can be a huge setback to quitting smoking and it’s important to refocus on your reasons for stopping. It can also be useful to plan your day and make sure no cigarettes are available, or you’ve got a healthy alternative at hand, such as a piece of fruit or a sugar-free gum.

4 hours after a cigarette

You’re getting better at resisting cravings, but it’s still challenging. Cravings come at unexpected times, and it’s often easier to just give in. The good news is that they usually last only a few minutes. If you can keep yourself busy for those few minutes, the urge will pass. If you need to, just take a walk or talk to someone. You can also distract yourself by playing a game on your phone, writing, or knitting. Just make sure you don’t use these things to become dependent on them.

It takes your body some time to get rid of the nicotine. This means that you’ll experience some fatigue and constipation. Some people will experience depression or anxiety at this point, too. It’s normal for these symptoms to appear, and they should go away within a month.

Your appetite will increase at this point because your body is not using cigarette smoke to suppress hunger, and you will need to eat to survive. You may even find that food tastes better without cigarette smoke in your mouth.

Some people feel irritable or depressed at this point, and it is very important to remember that these feelings will go away in a week or so. If you want to speed up this process, try to sleep around the same schedule each night, and eat healthy meals.

Nicotine is addictive and changes the brain’s receptors for pleasure. This is why it causes you to crave cigarettes. When you stop smoking, your brain will adjust and rely on other chemical releases to stimulate those pleasure sensations. This is why it’s important to have a strong support system and plan out your strategy for dealing with cravings. Distraction, exercise, and medications are all useful in helping you overcome your cravings. The medication Chantix (varenicline) and Zyban (bupropion) help some people quit smoking by reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

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