What exactly is a crave?

One of the things I see spoken about repeatedly on stop smoking forums is "craves", although I have never seen a good definition of what constitutes a crave.

Quitters crave cigarettes, as though it it's maternal instinct to suckle their mothers breast in order to survive; Cokeheads snort cocaine until the next snort of cocaine becomes available... making it happen if it doesn't come naturally, seeking elsewhere if they can't get their fix...

It seems that for some people, the crave is like a dream; something they aspire to in a detached kind of way. If it isn't there, then they simply can't have it. Others seem connected to cigarettes in a fundamental manner, like they would go out of their way to realize the event.

Craving happens inside our heads.

For some of us, craves stay in the head. For others, craves drive us into action.

Thoughts, feelings?

Alex.

27 Replies

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  • A crave for me is something that goes on inside my head, it is something that i created..... it was "me made". Over a long time My crave became very habitual! get a crave, ... Need a cig! get a crave need a cig! ....a fancy, a want, a need! a reward!.............. Something i thought i could never live without. Of course because i created it! I also had the power to destroy it! and that is exactly what I am doing, it might take some time! and as we know time is the best tool we could have why we quit...Time heals and time helps!

    So in my opinion A Cigarette crave is made in the head mostly! with nicotine giving it a helping hand.

    Good thread Alex and how you doing? :)

  • Good thread Alex and how you doing? :)

    Great thanks, although somewhat tickled as you astutely noticed :D Still, the allusive crave escapes me...

    Can someone catch it, please?

  • Great thanks, although slightly pickled as you astutely noticed :D Still, the allusive crave escapes me...

    Can someone catch it, please?

    Caught it :D

    6598

  • Oh Susie!

    We were much too young!

    Alex.

    P.S. Euuuuhhh, after that ahem...somewhat awkard interruption, the question remains... What is a crave???

  • Oh Susie!

    We were much too young!

    Alex.

    P.S. Euuuuhhh, after that ahem...somewhat awkard interruption, the question remains... What is a crave???

    what can you do?

    lots of love

    susie :p

    craves ah yes...........

  • A crave is a mysterious figure dressed in a long black coat, and a black fedora, who keeps his face hidden from view with his arm. He's always standing in the shadows, beckoning you with a "Pssssssst! Hey kid! Over here!"

    If you look his way, he begins to tempt you with (what turn out to be empty) promises.

    "You look a little anxious," he'll say. "I can help with that. Why, I can make it go away altogether!" Then he moves deeper into the shadows, beckoning you to follow.

    Or, "You feel so good right now, after that big meal. Wouldn't you like to feel just a little better?" and again, he's gesturing you to follow him.

    A crave is a pusher, an evil, candy-from-a-stranger fellow, who must be avoided at all costs. What he offers is fools gold and empty promises.

    Craves are liars, con artists, deceivers, thieves and killers. They are the worst of the worst, no matter how convincing their spiel, and they must be avoided at all times.

    Never talk with a crave. Never try to reason with him, engage with him, or even joke with him. A crave is deadly serious and he wants to take you down - all the way down.

    A crave tries to look like a friend, but he's not. He's a creepy, self-serving, self-centered devil who would buy your soul for the price of a pack of cigarettes.

    I hate the crave.

  • crave

    A crave is that feeling of emptiness that you get when you are grieving. That gutted hollow uncomfortable feeling you get when you have lost someone close to you. That yearning that makes time stand still and nothing else matter. And when you are grieving all you want is to have that person back because that will make the feeling go away. But that feeling does, in time, go away. You have to ride the wave.

  • Lol..great post DGee....

    Sorry cant remember who but someone described the craves as obsessions I thought that was a great and fitting description....As you all know I call them voices lol.:D

  • Cracking post Gee and one of the best posts i've read on here.

    I may even nick it myself and use it on other forums to claim the plaudits for it. I like it that much. :)

    Don't think there's any point me adding to this thread after that wonderful post.

  • A crave is like your first boyfriend dumping you and he won't take you back....you think you love him and could never survive without him. You pine for him when you think about him. You know he had treated you badly but it doesn't matter, he is what you want . Then you see someone else you quite fancy, your thoughts swap between the two, you start dating the new guy and you occasionally think of the ex. The more you get to know your new life with the new guy, the more you like it and the more you don't want to go back to ex. The first love will always be a part of you, but you now know your life is so much better without him.......not that I have ever been dumped hee hee

  • lurking in the shadows

    Ha ha rogue .. yes it is good DGee :)

    (here is another post of DGee's which caught my imagination forum.nosmokingday.org.uk/s... )

    Shojam that hit a chord!

    That masked stranger in a black cloak slinked out from behind a tree today whilst I was having an otherwise beautifully sunny walk.

    You know what scares me (if in fact us scots can be scared by anything) is that when the 'crave' hits, it is so subtle and creeps up on you like the time since quitting .. this last month and more of coming to terms with how futile smoking actually is .. just didn't exist!

    But we all know the answer to foil that little black shadow within us ... NOPE !

    (that and logging on here lol)

  • Haha that's another great post by him. Thanks for the link :)

  • What is a CRAVE?

    Its what makes you get out of bed..and go to the local store..

    and buy your cigarettes! A crave makes you dig in the couch for

    change so you can BUY some cigarettes! That is a crave!

  • Cracking Post

    A crave is a mysterious figure dressed in a long black coat, and a black fedora, who keeps his face hidden from view with his arm. He's always standing in the shadows, beckoning you with a "Pssssssst! Hey kid! Over here!"

    If you look his way, he begins to tempt you with (what turn out to be empty) promises.

    "You look a little anxious," he'll say. "I can help with that. Why, I can make it go away altogether!" Then he moves deeper into the shadows, beckoning you to follow.

    Or, "You feel so good right now, after that big meal. Wouldn't you like to feel just a little better?" and again, he's gesturing you to follow him.

    A crave is a pusher, an evil, candy-from-a-stranger fellow, who must be avoided at all costs. What he offers is fools gold and empty promises.

    Craves are liars, con artists, deceivers, thieves and killers. They are the worst of the worst, no matter how convincing their spiel, and they must be avoided at all times.

    Never talk with a crave. Never try to reason with him, engage with him, or even joke with him. A crave is deadly serious and he wants to take you down - all the way down.

    A crave tries to look like a friend, but he's not. He's a creepy, self-serving, self-centered devil who would buy your soul for the price of a pack of cigarettes.

    I hate the crave.

    This is good

    Fi

  • Craves.

    Craves are desires. Craves can be good or bad; some help us to survive others kill us.

    For example, every 8 weeks or so I will crave fatty food: usually I've felt very tired for a few days too. I think it's my body telling me my energy input has not been sufficient and I need to do something about it. This may be considered a "good" crave in that it's in response to a deficiency in my body. I don't think all craves are in the mind - some have a biological basis.

    Craves are bad when they're destructive such as craving cigarettes or alcohol if you're an alcoholic. In the case of cigarettes, science tells us cravings are in the mind - there is no physical dependence on cigarettes. However, with alcoholics, the cravings can be biological due to a physical dependence on alcohol. Apparently, in full on alcoholics, the body stops producing the correct enzymes.

  • There might also be a science angle on this. Nicotine activates receptors in the brain which release dopamine. Dopamine makes you feel good. Once the nicotine is no longer present, less dopamine is released. The reduced levels of dopamine make you feel bad (empty, needing, craving, demented etc). After a while the brain realises that the nicotine isn't coming back (which takes the brain 6 to 12 weeks) and reduces the number of receptors that are fired by nicotine. This process is called "downregulation". Once the brain has downregulated dopamine can be maintained at comfortable levels, and the (physiological) cravings stop.

    So, one way of looking at a craving is to say that it is a too low level of dopamine.

    On a highly unpleasant note, I saw somewhere on the net that a form of torture has been developed which involves administering a substance to the victim. The substance drastically lowers dopamine levels (and also possibly other feel-good substances). The effect this has on the victim is devastating.

  • H Biggrin

    I agree totally about the dopamine. I know that I would not have had the confidence to give up smoking unless I knew of a way to increase my dopamine levels without smoking.

    From experience, I knew that yoga increased my dopamine levels. The reason I knew this is that once I started doing yoga, and had been doing it for a few years, smoking started to give me a hangover. My body was getting too much dopamine from both yoga and smoking. I researched what a hangover was and it's due to the body going from high to low dopamine levels.

    The fact that I knew how to get a dopamine high ( a healthy one ) without smoking gave me the confidence to give up cigarettes. I'm addicted to yoga and exercise now but it's a healthy addiction and I'm OK with that.

  • Smoking addiction or Yoga/exercise addiction......... I know which one i choose! :D

  • There might also be a science angle on this. Nicotine activates receptors in the brain which release dopamine. Dopamine makes you feel good. Once the nicotine is no longer present, less dopamine is released. The reduced levels of dopamine make you feel bad (empty, needing, craving, demented etc). After a while the brain realises that the nicotine isn't coming back (which takes the brain 6 to 12 weeks) and reduces the number of receptors that are fired by nicotine. This process is called "downregulation". Once the brain has downregulated dopamine can be maintained at comfortable levels, and the (physiological) cravings stop...

    This is actually the 'official' why we smoke cigarettes answer. It's pretty much a blueprint for NRT promotion and can be understood by most people.

    However... ;)

    There are some massive counter arguments that are difficult to get around;

    Craves would be greatest when our nicotine levels were at their lowest - they're not.

    Consumption of nicotine in a (theraputic) manner similar to cigarette smoking would avoid craves - it doesn't.

    Quitters could stub out a real fag and switch effortlessly to a E-Cig - they don't.

    Craves are almost always merely a mental prompt to smoke and those prompts are generated by habit, mood, location, hunger, anxiousness, boredom, day of the week, and so on. The desire to smoke is not related to the distance from the previous smoke.

    The scientific angle is what is targeted by the mainstream quit methods and not unsurprisingly produces the same results as using no method at all.

    When I was at University we used the term QED.

    This thread is quite relevant I think? :)

  • However... ;)

    There are some massive counter arguments that are difficult to get around;

    Craves would be greatest when our nicotine levels were at their lowest - they're not.

    Consumption of nicotine in a (theraputic) manner similar to cigarette smoking would avoid craves - it doesn't.

    Quitters could stub out a real fag and switch effortlessly to a E-Cig - they don't.

    It looks to me like there are two entirely different ingredients to the word crave. One is physical and the other is mental. To me they both exist, but operate in very different ways. Are you saying that there is no physical craving, and only mental craving?

  • It looks to me like there are two entirely different ingredients to the word crave. One is physical and the other is mental. To me they both exist, but operate in very different ways. Are you saying that there is no physical craving, and only mental craving?

    If I had to describe it to a passing Martian I'd say there is physical withdrawal and mental craving.

    When you describe your own experience to other quitters there seems to a common and sometime acute feeling of longing and need that comes in waves of various frequency. As these are reported by all quitters irrespective of 'medication' they are what I would call a crave and clearly they are mental in origin.

    They also appear to vary in magnitude.

    I embarrassingly class myself as an Allen Carr quitter and my craves and withdrawal were slight.

    The snappiness and tetchy feelings associated with the quit and the slightly unwell feeling I attribute to nicotine withdrawal.

    Bizarrely, the more experiences you investigate the more wall-crawling appears to originate from those struggling with patch / ECig / Inhalator /mist etc suggesting that they're just having a bad quit regardless but blaming it on poor choice of medication.

  • Austin - Forgive me if I have misunderstood you. However, I'm not entirely sure what benefit there is in downplaying the scientific angle on cravings. There clearly is a physical/biochemical aspect to smoking addiction, and it seems strange to me that you apparently want to minimise this aspect of the smoking problem.

    I appreciate that you emphasise the mental aspect of addiction, and consider the mental aspect significantly more challenging than the physical. However, I find it unhelpful to disregard the physical aspect, since it is a significant experience to deal with! While the physical aspect lasts it seems to work hand in hand with the mental, so it contributes to quitting problems in that way too.

  • ...I appreciate that you emphasise the mental aspect of addiction, and consider the mental aspect significantly more challenging than the physical. However, I find it unhelpful to disregard the physical aspect, since it is a significant experience to deal with! While the physical aspect lasts it seems to work hand in hand with the mental, so it contributes to quitting problems in that way too.

    That's the point.

    The physical takes no experience to deal with and it is in no way a challenge!

    If you can cope with a bout of man flu you've got the tools to deal with nicotine cessation.

    The role nicotine plays in our continued smoking is portrayed as everything but is in fact tiny.

    Champix, hypnotherapy and CT quitters for example just stop taking nicotine and get on with their quits. They don't suffer to any degree because of that choice.

    It's always fun to have chewy discussions about it but you only have to glance at the 12 month cessation rates to draw an obvious and depressing conclusion.

  • I do think that smoking cigarettes affects dopamine levels. I don’t think it’s nicotine alone producing the dopamine changes – it’s the cigarettes and whatever they put in them – that’s why NRT does not take away the cravings.

    I ‘m convinced it’s the link with cigarettes and dopamine that makes smoking hard to give up for many people. Part of my evidence is based on the fact that people who smoke don’t get Parkinson’s disease (a disease based on lack of dopamine production).

    Also, many people find it easier to give up smoking when they’re older and their dopamine levels are more stable. Young people are often at the mercy of their dopamine levels; hence, the smoking and binge drinking which gives dopamine highs.

    It’s almost a cliché the number of rock stars who, once they get older, give up narcotics with no effort at all- Leonard Cohen springs to mind. I think it’s due to their “mature” brain chemistry.

    In conclusion, I think that there is some chemical basis, in the form of dopamine, to cravings. However, dopamine production can take many forms whether it is exercise, meditation or even gorging on fast food, they all give dopamine. The pathway to dopamine we don’t want is via cigarettes.

  • Nonico,

    there's a very old thread on here somewhere discussing exactly that.

    Dopamine production may well be massively significant in an easy quit.

    When we use terms like 'getting the head right' and 'having an epiphany' or suddenly no longer wishing to smoke then we may be simply applying terms that we understand to subconscious production of the necessary levels of dopamine that we don't.

    What we do know is that fags without nicotine don't work as we'd expect and nicotine without fags doesn't work either.

    :)

  • That's the point.

    The physical takes no experience to deal with and it is in no way a challenge!

    If you can cope with a bout of man flu you've got the tools to deal with nicotine cessation.

    The role nicotine plays in our continued smoking is portrayed as everything but is in fact tiny.

    Physical withrawal can and does give significant physical cravings and feelings of discomfort that can last for hours. As dreadful as man flu surely is, it seems odd to me that it can be compared with the discomfort caused by physical cravings. These physical sensations can be relieved virtually immediately by having a smoke. People repeatedly post about this kind of experience on here. This is a major factor in why people have trouble quitting beyond a few days.

    The physical aspects of withdrawal are long gone at the 12 month stage, so it unclear what bearing the 12 month quit rate has on this discussion.

  • :D Original Q: What is a crave? When you get up out of your bed,

    its 45 degrees outside...and you stand next to the house and smoke a cig!

    When you get up and drive to the nearest 24 hour store and buy

    a pack of smokes in the middle of the night!

    When you scrape up change coins to buy that pack of smokes!

    When you budget for that pack of cigarettes!

    Thank God I do'nt do this anymore...LOL!

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