No one knows what it feels like to quit smoking… until you do! It sucks, it’s rarely easy and it’s not always what you expected.
1- Cravings last more than a few minutes.
For cravings, people will give you all kinds of advice. They will tell you that it generally lasts 3 to 4 minutes and think a few tips can do the trick.
You have to be prepared for longer cravings. It can last 10 minutes or even longer, until… you light up.
2- Your body lies to you.
Your brain can receive some misguided information, especially when it comes to addiction. For instance, some people are hit by withdrawal symptoms right after taking the decision to quit. But their body doesn’t lack nicotine yet. It is purely mental.
3- Your memory changes.
It’s your brain again. Addiction is so powerful that the reasons for making that life change start to blur and fade. Without even realizing it, some quitsmokers change the terms of the deal and give themselves permission to break their abstinence. They find all kinds of excuses and don’t remember how badly they wanted to quit in the first place.
For example, many smokers mainly quit because it’s bad for their health. If they are in financial trouble, it helps them be even more motivated. Next time they get some extra money though, they will forget the main reason why they quit. They will be certain that they stopped because they could not afford it. Since they can again, they have no reason to resist.
Remembering exactly why you quit is crucial and you should write it down and keep it at all times. When you start to have cravings, your mind needs to be refreshed and you need to have a clear picture of what is really at stake.
4- You are not fully prepared.
Nicotine cravings can occur anytime and they won’t leave you in the weeks following cessation. When they occur, you have to focus on something else and replace it with another distraction. But have a plan B. Have several plans B. Your favorite food can help but not every single time. A gum. Your favorite sports. Taking a nap. Listening to your favorite song. Playing on your phone, etc…
Don’t overestimate yourself. You won’t be at your best (insomnia, anxiety, coughing,…). These are not regular circumstances. It will be hard to resist the temptation to relapse.
5- Nobody understands what you’re going through.
From an outside, non-addicted eye, it’s hard to know what the quitsmoker is going through. People will congratulate you for quitting but it will last a few seconds. Then they will take it for granted and go back to their lives. You are on your own, with less and less nicotine in your system.
Even wonderful and supportive loved ones can say the wrong things. We know it’s coming from a good place though.
6- It’s not the right moment to quit.
It’s gonna feel like it was not the right moment to quit. Except… it’s never the right moment. Every time a smoker quits, he will face some issues – as we all do – and convince himself that it wasn’t the right moment. Quitsmokers feel awful and that’s part of the process. Their brain’s neurochemical patterns are drastically altering after the loss of a major dopamine source.
7- Things don’t necessarily smell and taste better.
Without smoke, your clothes,your home, your hands and mouth will smell different. They will smell better but only by comparison. The cigarette smell covered their real smell and smoking numbed your senses. Unfortunately, everything that smells bad will smell bad to a quitsmoker who might not have been fully aware of it while smoking. Same thing with eating.
8- It’s a nightmare.
Don’t listen to people who tell you they can quit at any moment or worse people who did quit and pretend it wasn’t that hard. Few smokers succeed the first attempt of quitting. And there is a reason. Quitting smoking is not easy. Under any circumstances. It’s both psychologically and physically demanding.
It’s more comforting to realize quitting smoking wasn’t as painful and challenging as you thought than the opposite.