This is a question I see quite regularly on internet quit smoking forums. Sadly, it’s not always from people who are about to quit or who have only quit since a few days. I’ve seen people with anywhere between a couple of months to a year or more under their belt asking when they can expect the cravings to cease.
This is quite disturbing on many levels, because it suggests that there are some people who don’t move on beyond the initial withdrawal symptoms caused by the natural depletion of nicotine or from the initial psychological strain caused by holding back from doing something that has become almost as natural to them as eating or breathing. But, is this really reflective of reality? I don’t think so.
My feeling is that there is a huge distinction between the initial cravings and the kind of cravings that people speak about after having quit for months and even years. The problem is that we use the word craving for all situations in which we have a desire to smoke, regardless of how strong that craving may be and how we handle it emotionally.
It is especially disturbing to me to read posts from people have quit for a significant amount of time declaring that they still get cravings but that they are able to successfully manage them. It’s almost as though they are hanging on to something that proves that they used to smoke and that they’re still part of the quitting gang.
Perhaps even more disturbing is that these long-term quitters are probably oblivious to the fact that they are perpetuating and even reinforcing the image of quitting smoking as being a lifelong struggle to beat off the desire to smoke. New forum members setting out to quit or having just quit would be rightly put off by such claims.
I don’t believe there is a perfect solution to this problem, unless we can develop a “quit smoking language” that differentiates between levels of craving, whether physical or psychological, and how intense those cravings may be.