Nicotine and Your Brain

  • As a smoker, you are used to having a certain level of nicotine in your body.
  • Smoking gives the “pleasure center” (amygdala) in your brain repeated “hits” of nicotine.
  • In response, your brain grows dependent on nicotine to feel better (relaxed or in control or content)
  • The cycle of nicotine hits and brain dependence leads to more packs smoked and more money spent (What a marketing tool!!)
  • “Triggers” are sights, sounds, smells, tastes and places that the brain remembers as “nicotine time.”
  • Cravings happen when nicotine in the brain is reduced or eliminated.

What To Expect

  • Cravings may last 2-3 minutes, but will occur repeatedly during while staying quit.
  • The length and strength of cravings varies between individuals but the following tools may relieve, or even beat nicotine cravings!

What To Do

  • Visit www.BecomeAnEx.org, a free website where you can get a quit plan and connect with an online community.
  • Talk to your doctor about the different nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) that can relieve cravings during the first 4 months of staying quit.
  • Take deep breaths to get through a craving.
  • Eat fresh vegetables, chew gum or sugar free candy instead of snacking.
  • Exercise to lower the chance of gaining weight due to replacing smoking with snacking.
  • Get support from family and friends.
  • Be good to yourself if you slip.

How To Get Help

  • If you or someone you know wants help with giving up tobacco, go to I Want to Quit on QuitNowNH.org and click on the Sign Up for a Quit Coach, you will be able to request a call from a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist and free Quit Counseling;
  • Or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). This is a free and confidential service for all NH residents.

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