I still have to remind myself of things.
One of the most insidious things about the drug nicotine, and it's most common vehicle of entry, the cigarette, is that, over time, the crave they generate hijacks the natural, healthy craves we, as human beings, go through on a regular basis.... daily... hourly.
Things like hunger, thirst, the need to sleep, the need to exercise, sex-drive, the need for companionship, the need to be creative, the need for escape, the need to take deep breaths and count to 10....... over time, the crave for nicotine becomes entwined with the natural, healthy, instinctive craves that are associated with healthy living. The nicotine crave feels similar to the others. They become confused. We take nicotine instead of food. Use instead of quenching our thirst. No time for a nap, I'll inhale nicotine instead. I've got a long drive.... I don't want to pull over, I'll use nicotine.... I'm restless, I'll take nicotine (instead of going for a walk).
Eventually, the nicotine crave takes over. We use as either a replacement for or as a constant companion to the fulfillment of our normal physical and mental needs. Like a cuckoo bird's egg is laid in the healthy nest of another bird, the nicotine crave is planted amongst our need-to-live craves, and eventually, like a parasite, takes over.
This is important, because, when we quit, we face the challenge of learning to recognize the natural craves of our bodies and minds for what they are. As work 6 or 8 hours without a bite to eat, and we start to feel edgy, we assume it's the call of nicotine, without recognizing that we'd substituted cigarette breaks for lunch breaks so often as smokers that we never understood the call of hunger for what it was. As 3am rolls around, cramming for a final, and the body's need to sleep starts making demands, we mistake it for the call of nicotine, because we'd always used that instead of sleep in the past.
One I still encounter results from not drinking enough water. I'll get wrapped up in some project, and forget to have a glass of water or any kind of liquid for hours on end. The pack was always right in the pocket, and an easy reach when I was a smoker working at home. I'd smoke instead of hydrating then. So, now, when I get thirsty, I still occasionally recognize it as a nicotine crave.
I've learned -- and this is the point -- when I get what I think is a crave to examine it. To ask myself, okay, I'm craving something... is it really nicotine? Have I eaten? Have I had enough water? Am I run down? Have I exercised in the past couple of days? As often as not, I find that I'm craving something I actually NEED, and not nicotine at all. I find this especially when I get any kind of physical type of crave. I know I'm WAY past withdrawal. But I feel this physical call... my body is demanding something, but it's not nicotine.
Learn to investigate your body's craves. You feel something... DON'T assume it's a nicotine crave. Sure, they come now and then, but our body uses similar feelings to get us to fill the daily needs of life. Go through the list. Are you hungry, tired, thirsty, angry, restless, run down? Do you need to eat, sleep, drink, vent, exercise, rest? Your body and mind have real needs, and it has ways of asking for them. Learn to listen, and you'll find that they might not be asking for nicotine as often as you thought. Learn to answer the needs by fulfilling them, instead of replacing them with nicotine, and you'll find health benefits you might not have expected.