You may have quit smoking months ago, but you still find yourself craving a cigarette. It's common for former smokers to be become triggered by the time of day, places, activities, emotions, and other people who smoke.  Suddenly, you have the urge to smoke again.

    It is unnerving to have urges and thoughts of smoking resurface months after quitting. However, this is a very common part of recovery from nicotine addiction. Fortunately, you can learn what is behind your urges, develop healthy coping mechanisms , and regain control over your cravings.

    Verywell / Cindy Chung

    How Long Do Cravings Last?

    Right after you quit smoking, your body goes through nicotine withdrawal . Extreme cravings for cigarettes throughout the day are normal, but they generally subside (along with other symptoms of withdrawal ) about three to four weeks after quitting.

    Months after you quit smoking, you may still experience urges to smoke—although they are usually less frequent than when you first quit. Participants of one study reported they felt cravings for as long as six months after quitting smoking.

    Another study found that people who quit smoking were much less likely to experience cravings after their one-year mark of quitting. In other words, the longer you go without smoking, the less intense your cravings should become.

    What Causes Cravings?

    You're not alone if you experience cravings months after quitting. These can be triggered by:

    • Alcohol use
    • Being in a place where they used to smoke
    • Depressed mood
    • Seeing someone smoke

    If you're experiencing cravings months after you quit smoking, they're likely being triggered by something you're feeling or something in your environment. Your emotions—like happiness , sadness , and boredom—can also increase cigarette cravings.

    Emotions can act as triggers for smoking. When you're really happy or really upset, you might notice a sudden craving for a cigarette.

    Maybe you would always smoke when drinking alcohol . Or maybe you're used to smoking while you drive, or when you go out with friends. Doing these things after you've quit smoking can trigger a craving.

    Research has shown that genetics may even play a role in cigarette cravings. You may be genetically predisposed to having longer-lasting cravings after quitting.

    Remind yourself that you're doing the work now to change the mental responses you have to your smoking triggers. With practice, those thoughts (and the urges that come with them) will fade away.

    How to Relieve Cravings

    As you did during the first days of smoking cessation , it's helpful to get your mind off smoking. Be proactive and deal with each craving as it comes up. This is a phase in the recovery process that almost everyone goes through.

    Try Some Lifestyle Changes

    Managing these bumpy days and months into your smoking cessation journey will be much easier when your batteries are fully charged.

    Find activities that relax and rejuvenate you. Good nutrition and regular sleep can help ease your tension. Daily exercise, even a short walk, can improve your mood and energy levels.

    If you feel like your cravings are becoming more intense, take it as a cue to engage in more self-care . You might avoid certain situations temporarily—like going to a bar or to a party where people will be smoking—if you know they're likely to trigger you.

    If an urge to smoke catches you off guard, you might engage in some mindfulness meditation or breathing exercises . Simply stay in the moment without acting on your urges. This exercise can remind you that the moment will pass and so will the craving.

    You can find more coping strategies that work for you by following the five Ds of smoking cessation : delay, distract, drink water, deep breathing, and discuss.

    Reach Out for Support

    Make a plan for when you feel a craving. Reach out to a trusted family member or friend who can offer encouragement while you wait for the craving to pass.

    Becoming part of a support group for quitting smoking can give you support and motivation as well. If you can, reach out to someone from your in-person or online support group. Or, try downloading a quit smoking app on your phone. You can check the app any time you are craving a cigarette.

    Talk to Your Doctor

    If you're having trouble managing your cravings, talk to your doctor about your options. Some people find nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) a useful method to stay away from cigarettes. NRT gives your body small doses of nicotine without the toxic chemicals in cigarettes.

    NRT comes in lozenges, mouth sprays, gum, and patches. Talk to your doctor about the best type of NRT for you. There are also medications to help you quit smoking such as Zyban (bupropion) and Chantix (varenicline tartrate); however, these may be most effective when taken before quitting smoking, so it's best to talk to your doctor.

    A Word From Verywell

    Try not to fear the ups and downs that come with quitting smoking. Although you might be feeling frustrated by cravings, all of this discomfort can pass in time if you just keep applying yourself to your goal of staying smoke-free, one day at a time.

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    Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

    1. Masiero M, Lucchiari C, Maisonneuve P, Pravettoni G, Veronesi G, Mazzocco K. The attentional bias in current and former smokers . Front Behav Neurosci. 2019;13:154. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00154

    2. McLaughlin I, Dani JA, De Biasi M. Nicotine withdrawal . In: Balfour DJK, Munafò MR, eds. The Neuropharmacology of Nicotine Dependence. Springer International Publishing; 2015:99-123. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-13482-6_4

    3. Potvin S, Tikàsz A, Dinh-Williams LL, Bourque J, Mendrek A. Cigarette cravings, impulsivity, and the brain . Front Psychiatry. 2015;6:125. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2015.00125

    4. Taniguchi C, Tanaka H, Nakamura S, Saito S, Saka H. Development of a new craving index for anticipating quitting smoking in patients who undergo the Japanese smoking cessation therapy . Tob Induc Dis. 2019;17:89. doi:10.18332/tid/114164

    5. National Institutes of Health. Know your triggers .

    6. Oftedal S, Vandelanotte C, Duncan MJ. Patterns of diet, physical activity, sitting and sleep are associated with socio-demographic, behavioural, and health-risk indicators in adults . Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(13):2375. doi:10.3390/ijerph16132375

    7. Tang YY, Tang R, Posner MI. Brief meditation training induces smoking reduction . Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2013;110(34):13971-13975. doi:10.1073/pnas.1311887110

    8. National Institutes of Health. How to manage cravings .

    9. Heydari G, Masjedi M, Ahmady AE, et al. A comparative study on tobacco cessation methods: A quantitative systematic review . Int J Prev Med. 2014;5(6):673-678.

    Why do I crave a cigarette?
    Why Cigarette Cravings Occur. The nicotine in cigarettes is the chemical that creates cravings. Nicotine is an addictive drug that triggers the release of brain chemicals related to pleasure sensations. more
    Why do I crave jelly?
    4. Sweet things! What is causing the craving: If you find yourself willing to kill for a packet of jellies, it may be a sign that you are lacking chromium which is a mineral that balances your blood sugar levels. more
    Why do I crave clay?
    This is a condition known as PICA syndrome. PICA is a habit or act of eating non-food items such as soil, clay, stone, chalk, ect. While not all people that have iron deficiency anaemia crave eating non-food substances such as clay or soil it is more common than you might think. more
    What do cats crave?
    Cats are meat eaters, plain and simple. They have to have protein from meat for a strong heart, good vision, and a healthy reproductive system. Cooked beef, chicken, turkey, and small amounts of lean deli meats are a great way to give them that. Raw or spoiled meat could make your cat sick. more
    Why do I crave popcorn?
    If you have a random hankering for popcorn, you may need to think about your cortisone levels. Stressed out people tend to crave popcorn, and you can alleviate it with a big bowl of the good stuff. Also, reducing your stress levels is a must. The less stressed you are, the less you're going to crave popcorn. more
    Do diabetics crave sweets?
    In people with diabetes who are susceptible to hypoglycemia, sugar cravings develop as your body looks to get sugar. In this case, the temptation can arise for people to overeat sugar, such is the urge, but a lot of the time sugar cravings can develop out of the blue. more
    Do diabetics crave sugar?
    In people with diabetes who are susceptible to hypoglycemia, sugar cravings develop as your body looks to get sugar. In this case, the temptation can arise for people to overeat sugar, such is the urge, but a lot of the time sugar cravings can develop out of the blue. more
    Will I crave cigarettes forever?
    Cigarette cravings typically peak in the first few days after quitting and diminish greatly over the course of the first month without smoking. 1 While you might miss smoking from time to time, once you make it past six months, the urge to smoke will be diminished or even gone. more
    Can you crave iron?
    Lack of enough iron in your diet will trigger your body to crave iron-rich foods such as red meat to replenish. more
    Do schizophrenics crave sugar?
    Those of us with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder may have to decrease our sugar intake because a lot of the medication for schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder makes us crave sugar (Psychiatric Drugs and Weight Gain). more
    Will I crave cigarettes forever?
    Cigarette cravings typically peak in the first few days after quitting and diminish greatly over the course of the first month without smoking. 1 While you might miss smoking from time to time, once you make it past six months, the urge to smoke will be diminished or even gone. more

    Source: www.verywellmind.com

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