Help! I'm really struggling
We recognise there may be times that you feel like your cravings are winning, but you really can beat them! Help is always at hand if you need it and here’s how you can access support:
Our highly trained telephone support team are available to discuss any problems you might be experiencing during your quit attempt. They are available 9am-9pm, 7 days a week, 354 days a year. Call Yorkshire Smokefree on 0800 612 0011 (free from landlines) or 0330 660 1166 (free from most mobiles) to speak to a trained, expert adviser.
If you prefer a more interactive experience, you can access the Quit Online programme which allows you the freedom to choose from a menu of options including our online community of quitters, live chat, motivational tools and much more.
Face to Face:
We also provide face to face support in both community settings and town centre quit shop. Here you will be able to speak to an experienced specialist advisor who can help you with a variety of techniques, treatments and therapies to empower you to take control of your stop smoking attempt.
Specialist services are also available for pregnant women, their partners and families, young people, in and outpatients in hospitals and mental health services and in the workplace. We can also offer some home visits for specialist cases.
Managing your cravings
The human brain is hardwired to desire naturally occurring chemicals such as Dopamine, as a reward. When we introduce artificial substances such as nicotine into the system, it quickly takes over and leads the smoker to feel compelled to seek higher and higher doses of the drug, more frequently until they become dependent on it.
A craving occurs when receptors in the brain are starved of nicotine. They need to be topped up hourly so that the individual feel satisfied and comfortable.
The consequences of not doing so results in withdrawal symptoms. These can include physical changes such as hot sweats, shaking, agitation or negative mood, feeling of loss, depression or aggression.
The best way to avoid severe cravings during a stop smoking attempt is to use plenty of clean nicotine in the form of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or one of the stop smoking tablets, Varenicline (Champix) or Bupropion SR (Zyban). These anti craving devices have been developed to enable the smoker to slowly adjust to being a non-smoker.
If used correctly, they will provide a measured dose, which in turn prevents unpleasant symptoms whilst allowing the receptors to recover and produce their own naturally occurring chemicals.
The first step in the process is to make sure you are getting as much of your products as possible, for example the gum is being chewed and parked in regular intervals, the inhalator is being puffed rather than sucked and the sprays are directed into the cheek for or nostril.
Patches are notorious for coming adrift, so make sure a fresh one has been placed on the skin and has adhered completely. Choosing the right strength is important too. Remember, a 21mg patch over a 24 hour period delivers 0.9mg per hour. If it is taken off before bed, the wearer only receives an average of 14.4mg of nicotine. Therefore, choosing the 25mg patch for the same amount of time gives the wearer 10.6mg more nicotine to help with their craving. Add a second product into the mix and the chance of cravings being the cause of a lapse is reduced.
When using Champix or Zyban it is important to take the medication for the full 10-12 week course. If there are any side effects, such as vomiting the user may not be absorbing enough of the ingredients and therefore may experience craving. Always check with the pharmacist or doctor should this continue.
Everyone is different. Metabolising nicotine will differ from person to person. It can affect the absorption of other medications whilst you are stopping smoking and it is advised you speak to your GP or nurse if you have any concerns.
The level and frequency of cravings will also change according to the amount of nicotine in your system. Crucially, the craving will only last a few minutes and using diversion techniques can be helpful. Perhaps make a cup of tea or coffee, go and sort out a draw out, water the plants, anything that will refocus your attention until the craving passes.
Avoidance methods are also helpful too. Smoking in a particular place can trigger the desire to smoke. For some people social situations are high risk. Therefore, not going out with the same smoking friends for a couple of occasions can provide enough space to develop coping strategies so they don’t cave in. Alcohol can also lead to increased cravings because it blocks the absorption of nicotine. This means that the user needs higher amounts to experience the same level or satisfaction. Alcohol also lowers inhibitions increasing the likelihood of relapse. If you are going to drink alcohol, try to have some soft drinks in between to minimise the effect.
Becoming smoke free is a process, so don’t be hard on yourself if you have the odd slip up. Take one day at a time. Find ways to congratulate or reward yourself for each achievement. Small steps and small gains get you’re the prize in the end.
Look at what lead to the slip up. What were you feeling, what were you doing, who were you with? Had you eaten and were you sufficiently hydrated? These can both intensify or mimic a craving. Learn from the event and resolve not to repeat the same mistake again. Put measures in place so you feel in control and confident next time.
Be realistic and don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
Plan ahead. Being organised and prepared for any situation is always going to put you in control. If you need some help with planning, ask your advisor. They can discuss some options with you that you may not have thought of.