Behavioral Substitutes

Blog Post created by dr_hurt on Jul 8, 2008

Behavioral Substitutes

When stopping smoking, often one of the toughest parts is finding a suitable "substitute" for wanting something in your hand.

Suggestions for this include cinnamon sticks " some smokers say that the taste of cinnamon has the same "bite" that a cigarette has. Cinnamon hard candies or cinnamon gum are options as well. (As an aside, nicotine gum now comes in a cinnamon flavor.) Keeping a water bottle handy is another good idea as water can curb cravings or urges. You may also try sensible snacking with vegetable sticks such as celery or carrots to keep your hands busy. Some people use a straw and draw air through it to mimic the act of smoking.

Pick up a new hobby or interest to fill the time you used to smoke such as craft work, wood-working, needlepoint, or playing an instrument will help to keep your hands busy. Besides this being a good behavioral substitute, it also "signals" to you that you are beginning to re-learn your life without cigarettes.

There are so many options these days such as the hand-held video games, those small magnetic sculptures, stress balls - even modeling clay can often hold your interest for some time and keep your hands busy as well. Many of these are inexpensive and can easily get you through a craving. Remember, cravings typically last no more than 3-5 minutes. Also try some of the separation exercises on BecomeAnEX.org

Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated over 33,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org