How soon do cravings start after I stop smoking?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
You'll probably get your first craving within a few hours of your last cigarette. That's because the cells in your body have become accustomed to getting a regular dose of nicotine. The craving will typically come around the same time you would have lit your next cigarette. Cravings tend to peak for a few days and last for several weeks. Eventually the episodes get further and further apart until they disappear completely. Yes, you heard that right: Physical cravings for cigarettes will eventually end.
Since nicotine is highly addictive, withdrawal causes physical and psychological symptoms that can begin as soon as two to three hours after your last cigarette. You can reduce the effects of nicotine withdrawal when quitting smoking by avoiding your triggers -- the situations that make you want to smoke.

To quit smoking successfully, you need to address both physical and psychological aspects of cravings. Find other ways to unwind, such as yoga or meditation. You can also keep your mouth and hands busy by chewing gum or keeping a cinnamon stick or flavored toothpick in your mouth. Nicotine replacement therapies and prescription drugs can help you deal with cravings in the short-term.
Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
How soon cravings start depends on how much and how frequently you smoke. Chain smokers are going to experience cravings more quickly after stopping than occasional smokers.  Clearly the roughest time is going to be the first 24 hours after smoking cessation.

Knowing that cravings will happen it is important to have a plan ahead of time on how to deal with them. It can be with nicotine replacement, exercise, distraction and/or support from friends and family who can help you through the withdrawl.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.