Addiction Nicotine Use A Day in the Life of a Smoker By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada. Learn about our editorial process Updated on November 15, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Sanja Jelic, MD Medically reviewed by Sanja Jelic, MD Sanja Jelic, MD, is board-certified in sleep medicine, critical care medicine, pulmonary disease, and internal medicine. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Westend61 / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Morning Work Day Evening Resources to Quit Does this day in the life of a smoker sound familiar? You may think that you don't want to quit, or you may have tried quitting many times only to fall back into your familiar smoking pattern. It's worth considering how much of your life is tied up with smoking, on top of the health risks it poses. Quitting smoking is not an easy task. Everyday life can present many triggers that may prompt someone to want to pick up a cigarette, from nicotine cravings first thing in the morning to routines like having a cup of coffee and a cigarette that feel impossible to shake. Here, we take a look at what someone who's addicted to nicotine may encounter in their day. Morning for a Smoker Here are a few experiences starting first thing in the morning that may sound familiar to someone who smokes. Morning Cough You wake up coughing. It's common for people who smoke to cough early in the morning. This is known as "smoker's cough." It may continue until you smoke your first cigarette of the day. Getting That First Nicotine Fix Your focus in the morning is likely on getting your nicotine fix, which may involve smoking a cigarette on the way to work or even first thing upon waking up. Knowing you may have to go for several hours without another cigarette while you're at work may prompt you to smoke more. What to Do Instead Nicotine cravings can be intense, but there are a few things you can try to beat the urge: Practice deep breathing exercises. Help the time pass by distracting yourself and staying busy with an activity, such as going on a walk or calling a friend. Keep a healthy snack on hand to keep your mouth busy. Plan ahead for when cravings hit by looking into support groups, counseling, or asking asking your doctor if a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as patches or lozenges may be right for you. 101 Healthy Alternatives to Smoking Work Day for a Smoker If you work outside the home, your opportunities to smoke are often limited. You have to exit the building or even the work campus to a place where smoking is allowed. As a result, you may have to go hours without smoking during your workday. Withdrawal at Work Every hour without smoking can make you feel more irritable, and your next cigarette may be at the forefront of your mind throughout your day at work. In fact, symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can appear within just a few hours of your last cigarette. As the hours pass since your last cigarette, you may find yourself getting more and more irritable and your ability to concentrate on your work may wane. Smoke Breaks It's likely that you look forward to your lunch or coffee breaks if they also double as your smoke break, but you may find that getting in a cigarette takes priority. Rather than enjoying lunch or sitting comfortably, you may instead find yourself sitting in your car or standing outside rain or shine so you can smoke. Ans if you haven't had a smoke for hours, you may be tempted to have several cigarettes as soon as you are able to appease the cravings, relax, or stock up on nicotine for the rest of the afternoon. What to Do Instead You may associate daily rituals such as the smell of your morning coffee, work breaks, meals, or getting in the car to drive to and from work with smoking, which can trigger a craving. If you're trying to quit smoking, plan ahead to ensure you're prepared for when it happens.This could involve changing up your routine. Identifying these triggers ahead of time can help you avoid becoming susceptible to them down the road. Health Risks and Diseases of Smoking Evening for a Smoker You may have more opportunities to smoke outside of work, but smoking still likely affects your social life. At Home If you with with a partner or housemate who also smokes, you may have no problem lighting up in the evening at home, but you may still have to go outside to smoke. If the people you live with don't smoke and don't support your smoking, you may find that smoking at home regularly causes conflict in your relationships. Eating Out Just as you might be used to smoking at lunch or during a coffee break at work, you could feel similarly in a bar or restaurant. This is especially true if you're used to smoking while drinking alcohol, or if there are others with you who also smoke. Many states have smoke-free indoor air laws that prohibit smoking in these locations, however, so you may have to go outside. If this is the case in your state, you may also have to smoke on the way in anticipation of these regulations. If you're trying to quit and finding that you're really tempted to smoke if you go to certain places, you may try taking some time to avoid these places altogether for the time being. Dating If you're in the dating scene, you may face additional difficulties. It used to be that offering a cigarette to a person you were attracted to was considered polite, even romantic. Now you might worry about admitting you smoke. On the other hand, you may avoid the issue by only dating other smokers, but you'll likely find that it really narrows down your choices. Friendships Spending time with friends who don't smoke may prove challenging as well. You may find yourself having a cigarette alone outside while your friends continue catching up and socializing. Smoking can be lonely. If most of your friends have quit and don't smoke, you may find yourself wondering if it is worth all the hassle and cost to carry on smoking. What to Do Instead Stresses and annoyances throughout the day may cause you to reach for a cigarette. Remember: Smoking a cigarette doesn't get to the root of what's causing you stress. It just masks the issue. When you quit smoking, try other ways to handle stress. Do something that relaxes you, like taking a bath or a deep breathing exercise, or find a way to move your body, such as practicing yoga. Will I Miss Smoking Forever? Resources for Quitting It's common for someone to attempt to quit smoking more than once, so don't give up if you've tried before and were unsuccessful. To give yourself a good chance at success, have reliable resources and a solid plan in place. Here are some places to look: Online resources: There are online support groups, forums, and information readily available at your fingertips. Healthcare provider: Speak to a doctor about quitting. They'll be able to recommend any treatments they think would be best for you specifically. That might include a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) product or smoking cessation medication that could help. Therapy: See if behavioral interventions such as counseling might be beneficial for you. Medication and counseling are particularly effective in helping people quit smoking, especially when used together. Talking to your family and friends about your plan or desire to quit can also be helpful. Ensure your immediate support network is ready to be there for you when you need them. A Word From Verywell It can be easy to fall back into the habit, go back to what you're used to every day, and start smoking again even after you've decided you want to quit. There's no doubt about it: Conquering a nicotine addiction is hard. It's a physical and mental dependence, and both will take time to overcome. But above all, in addition to ridding yourself of the inconveniences to your daily life, the health benefits you'll gain once you quit for good are more than worth it. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. 15 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. American Cancer Society. Health risks of smoking tobacco. Lotfalian S, Spears CA, Juliano LM. The effects of mindfulness-based yogic breathing on craving, affect, and smoking behavior. Psychol Addict Behav. 2020;34(2):351-359. doi:10.1037/adb0000536 Smokefree.gov. Managing withdrawal. American Cancer Society. Help for cravings and tough situations while you're quitting tobacco. Smokefree.gov. How to manage cravings. 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By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Get Treatment for Addiction Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.