Can you explain cravings to a non-smoker?

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  1. Blond Logic profile image97
    Blond Logicposted 4 years ago

    Can you explain cravings to a non-smoker?

    I know that smoking is addictive but can you put it into words what you as a smoker go through when you are craving a cigarette?

    Image Credit: Pixabay and Realworkhard

  2. Gordon Hamilton profile image98
    Gordon Hamiltonposted 4 years ago

    At the time of writing, I am 13 weeks, 2 days and 21 hours off cigarettes. I am 44 years old and started smoking when I was 11 years old. The craving for cigarettes to a smoker is often horrendously misunderstood and grossly under-emphasised by those who have never smoked. Just yesterday, I got very angry when I heard a British radio announcer (Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2) suggest that smokers might simply get a little bit cranky for twenty minutes without their smoke. I would not suggest he repeat that comment in a room of people attempting to stop smoking...

    Craving a cigarette for me was (and is) often emphasised by increased salivating, just like for food. I feel my hand making as to hold a cigarette. I looked forward to dragging the warming, satisfying fumes in to my lungs, stimulating the brain, calming worries or concerns and setting me up to face the challenges between that point and my next cigarette. I used to plan my day, thinking what I had to get through between smoking opportunities. It is soothing, it is relaxing, it is pleasurable - it is a slow form of suicide that saw both my grandfathers die in their 50's in long term agony from the ravages of lung cancer...

    Starting smoking is the biggest regret of my life - bar none. I have heard that alcoholics often say they are still an alcoholic who simply doesn't drink anymore. I fear I will always be the craving smoker who simply doesn't smoke anymore. I hope at least I can have that status and that I never again return to my greatest pleasure which was at the same time ultimately killing me...

    Reforming alcoholics and particularly drug addicts do (and should) get support and sympathy. Try to remember that reformed tobacco smokers suffer very much in the same way and can often go through Hell in their pursuit of breaking their habit...

    Never smoked? Please - don't ever even try it! It could be the biggest mistake of your life...

    1. Jacqueline65 profile image60
      Jacqueline65posted 4 years agoin reply to this

      I started smoking at 12, I wish I had never started, it is so hard to quit, I quit once for 4 months. I tried to quit and failed. It was so hard, I got tired of failing and give up.

    2. Blond Logic profile image97
      Blond Logicposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      When I asked the question, I never thought I would get such a complete and heartfelt response. Thank you for sharing your experience with us and congratulations on quitting.

  3. d.william profile image70
    d.williamposted 4 years ago

    The symptoms of craving a cigarette is much the same as any cravings that one might feel after going without something they are accustomed to.
    But 100 times worse.  Some signs and symptoms:  agitation, sweating, feeling shaky inside, trembling hands, nausea, headache, light headedness, dizziness, are probably the worst of them.  For anyone trying to quit, these symptoms do dissipate over time.  When having them, a strong peppermint candy usually wards them off.
    I started smoking at age 9 and smoked at least one pack a day for over 40 years.  My symptoms were so bad i knew it was either quit or die.  I had poor circulation, swelling in my feet and legs, asthma, a constant cough, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations, and more.
    That was December of 1994.  I took a mini vacation from work around a weekend that totaled 5 days.  I went home, locked myself in my house, crushed the cigarettes i had left and flushed them down the toilet.
    Then i went to bed and stayed there for most of those 5 days.  I ate very little, threw up a lot, and coughed constantly.
    When i got my strength back enough to return to work, i put in my notice and left my job. The next year was a period of recovery, and today i am smoke free, totally symptom free, my lungs are clear, and i am healthier than i have ever been.
    The entire story is in one of my hubs: … rse-Part-4
    I was more fortunate than most people in my physical state at the time, and i believe it was truly a miracle that i survived this long and remain in good health, both physically and mentally.
    Gordon's comments are right on the mark. I thank God every day for my good health today.

    1. Blond Logic profile image97
      Blond Logicposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      Thank goodness you had the inner strength to go through the pain and quit. I will take a look at your hub, thanks for your answer.

  4. profile image0
    cjaroszposted 4 years ago

    I am not a smoker. I have never wanted to smoke. I have seen what it does to people. I want no part of it. My husband argues the fact all the time. I'm not saying its addictive. All I'm saying is that its ones choice to start smoking. To get the addiction that cigarettes give you. I have no sympathy for those who complain about it. Who have a hard time trying to quit. Its a price to pay for your actions. I know it sounds harsh. That's the way life goes, consequences for our actions. You choose to start smoking. To fill your body with harmful chemicals. Get addicted to  things that your body will soon crave. Its not a disunderstanding for smoking cravings. Its the disunderstanding of why would you start smoking? Smoking creates a clutch for people who won't find healthy ways of dealing with things.

    1. Blond Logic profile image97
      Blond Logicposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      I have lived with smokers all my life, and never really understood them. Oddly enough, I find people who are smokers give advice on health concerns regarding food choices etc. Thanks for your answer.

  5. tsmog profile image81
    tsmogposted 4 years ago

    To share an answer to a non-smoker who desires to have an empathetic view may be daunting for a smoker to share. One must first understand the addiction is not a behavior it is an addiction. Simple enough.

    For one to say they are addicted to cigarettes one must first say they are an addict. That can only be understood if one understands what an addict is. For that understanding I suggest Google for scholastic oriented articles.

    How does it feel is the question. Not what are the symptoms. Okay one example is how long can a mom be away from her newborn child or even one or two year old? How long before you begin to feel a need to check your child or even think how that child is? What symptoms of those induced feelings can you intellectually relate to the symptoms offered by those articles you read?

    Did you wonder if the child was asleep or playing?

    What symptoms of anxiety did you foresee or even think were plausible? How much of a drive would you have to get back to that child? Would you feel comfortable or uncomfortable? How long before you felt uncomfortable? How uncomfortable would you feel? Would those feelings be accelerated or escalated knowing it was time to feed that child and it was probably crying wanting to eat? How would you measure that anxiety level? How would you satisfy that "Craving" to return to your child and provide the care it needs and too satisfy or lessen your own feelings of anxiety?

    The above is allegorical description seeking to share the degree of anxiety a smoker "may" undergo. The truth to the matter is too many people use simple minded generalities and apply them to all addicts whether a smoker or not. Each individual is unique and faces their own demons for a metaphor. It is from specifics that therapies are developed addressing the addiction, yet again, each individual is an individual.

    Research will show you that many addiction systems such as twelve steps and a majority of rehab centers allow smoking all together or with restrictions. To blatantly assert smoking is a sign of weakness is to not understand the word weakness or the word strength. Behavior again is not the addiction it is the symptoms.

    You asked what are the cravings like to a non-smoker. I cannot answer that question as I do smoke. I can share as a smoker I wrote this without smoking a cigarette or have one burning in the ash tray. That for  me is an accomplishment knowing all the psychological emotions undertook to discuss this.

    1. Blond Logic profile image97
      Blond Logicposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      I think I am guilty of assuming that smokers are 'weak willed'. I see your point that every smoker is an individual and what works for one, might not for another. Thank you for putting that into perspective.

    2. tsmog profile image81
      tsmogposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      Me too Blond Logic. I have discussions with drinkers, over eaters (emphasis is not on one who is obese, one who over eats - mainly carbs), go to casinos too much, or even the exercise or work-aholic . Addiction is the key & nicotine is the substa

  6. carol3san profile image59
    carol3sanposted 4 years ago

    I'll try to answer this question, but I must first admit that I'm not a smoker. I understand from several of the comments from others who responded to this question that they are not smokers either.  I do believe however that I may be qualified to answer this question based upon my experience as a diabetic. I've been a diabetic for many years and am insulin dependent.  my body has gone through very severe cravings of a different matter...sugar.  The medical term for this is called hypoglycemia.  When I don't eat the right amount of carbs (which is converted into glucose...a form of sugar once it is digested ) the cravings for the sugar if not corrected will make me physically ill.  If it goes untreated,  I will become severely ill, and can possibly die. 

    Some of the symptoms my body experience when craving for the sugar boost includes:  Trimmers, sweating, weakness, difficulty in breathing, irritability, and confusion.
    Thankfully, I am able to pick up on the early signs when my blood sugar is I can usually treat it right away.  It will usually take my body no more than 20 minutes to raise the blood sugar again, providing it didn't suffer too long.  Once that happens, the signs and symptoms of the cravings will end.

    From my understanding of drugs...practically any kind of drug addiction, including alcohol and nicotine use, will make the body reacts to cravings in the exact same way.  Depending on the depth of the addiction, it may not be a reaction as severe as the one I have when my blood sugar drops too low.  However I can't say that with certainty.

    There are nicotine patches available that will supposedly help the smoker kick the habit.  I don't know any smokers who have used them, so I can't vouch for its effectiveness.  In fact the two smokers that I do know personally each ended up kicking the habit by either tapering down or going cold turkey. 
    I hope this was helpful for you

    1. d.william profile image70
      d.williamposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      The symptoms are the same. I also have pseudo hypoglycemia from drinking coffee on an empty stomach.Both cravings R scary. Tapering never worked 4 me & cold turkey is a nightmare. I really feel 4 any 1 trying 2 kick an addiction.

    2. Blond Logic profile image97
      Blond Logicposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      My ex tried, cold turkey, cutting down, hypnosis, shock therapy and nicotine gum. In the end he stopped for 9 months and then he said he would just have one. Then he was back to square one.
      Thank you Carol for your comparison they sound very similar.

  7. lburmaster profile image83
    lburmasterposted 4 years ago

    It's stronger than cravings for food. It's like a pressure that won't be lifted until you give in. A food craving is easier to turn down, but what if you are really hungry (you skipped two meals and haven't eaten all day) and the food you want is right in front of you. Most likely you are going to give in. Smoking cravings feel like that, every time something stressful happens.

    1. Blond Logic profile image97
      Blond Logicposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      I hear that word 'stress' often. "I am smoking more because I am stressed". But I am stressed and I am not smoking.
      As D. William said, 5 days of pain and sickness  to get over the initial stages of the cravings. It is a powerful drug.


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