The 5 Ds for Smoking Cessation

Tips for Managing Your Cravings

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The five Ds is a set of tools that can help you quickly respond to the urge to smoke a cigarette. When you quit smoking, your body goes through nicotine withdrawal, an intense phase of smoking cessation.

Withdrawal includes everything from unpleasant physical symptoms to feelings of sadness and seemingly nonstop thoughts of smoking. Even after withdrawal, you may feel urges to smoke several months after quitting.

No matter where you are in your journey of quitting, the five Ds are healthy coping mechanisms; you can use one of them or a combination that works for you to manage your cravings.

The five Ds are:

  • Delay
  • Distract
  • Drink water
  • Deep breathing
  • Discuss


Delay until the craving to smoke passes. Cravings are difficult, but they usually pass fairly quickly.

Try waiting 10 minutes the next time you have the urge to smoke. When time is up, notice how you feel. Is the urge to smoke still as strong?

You may be surprised that after 10 minutes, the urge goes away. If it doesn't, try waiting another 10 minutes. You might practice one of the other four Ds while you delay. You can delay as often as you need to throughout the day.


Distract yourself to shift your attention away from thoughts of smoking. Physical activity can improve your energy levels and help you focus on something other than your craving.
Try going for a walk or a run around the block, or walk up and down your stairs a few times.

Switching up your routine can help beat cravings, too. Stop what you're doing and start a new task. If you're watching TV, try doing a crossword puzzle instead. Try planning a trip to a place where you know you won't be able to smoke, like a public library, a museum, or a movie theater.

Drink Water

Drinking water may help to reduce cravings. In addition, staying hydrated can ease some of the negative effects of nicotine withdrawal like hunger, fatigue, headaches, and sweating.

A person who used to smoke might miss the experience of having something in their mouth after they quit. Sipping on a water bottle can help satiate that feeling. You could also try having a toothpick in your mouth or chewing on sugarless gum or mints, which can feel satisfying and help to relieve some of your cravings, too.

Deep Breathing

Try practicing deep breathing whenever you have the urge to smoke. By taking long, deep abdominal breaths, you may find you're better able to concentrate, your body and mind feel more relaxed, and you can let go of any thoughts about smoking.

Find a quiet place to sit down. Take a deep breath, letting the air fill your lower belly. Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth.

Repeat this practice a few times to see if you feel more relaxed and at ease. There are many different kinds of breathing techniques you can try. Try practicing every day for at least 10 minutes or whenever you have the urge to smoke.

One study found that yoga and meditation can help with smoking cessation and nicotine withdrawal symptoms as well. These practices promote self-appreciation, body acceptance, and encourage a healthier way of life.


Discuss your cravings with someone who understands them. Remember, you're not alone if you feel an urge to smoke. There are plenty of support groups for quitting smoking.

You might find one that meets in person or online—or, you might download an app to quit smoking that connects you with others on the same journey.

Whenever you have a craving, try connecting with a support group or an encouraging friend or family member.

Having a quit-smoking buddy or a supportive community can help motivate you to overcome cravings. They can help hold you accountable for your goal of staying smoke-free.

Whenever a momentary craving arises, ask someone to remind you of the reasons you quit so you can gain more control over your urges to smoke again.

A Word From Verywell

Quitting smoking isn't easy, and those moments when you crave cigarettes can be frustrating. Remember, you can make your own plan to address these urges. The five Ds can be part of that plan.

Try them out when a craving strikes and see what methods work best for you. When you're struggling, try reaching out to a trusted friend or a support group to help keep you motivated. The cravings will pass and get better over time as you stay nicotine-free.

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.

8 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.
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  2. American Cancer Society. Making a plan to quit and planning your quit day.

  3. National Institute of Health. How to manage cravings.

  4. American Cancer Society. Help for cravings and tough situations while you're quitting tobacco.

  5. National Institutes of Health. Vaping addiction and nicotine withdrawal.

  6. Harvard Health Publishing. Relaxation techniques: Breath control quell errant stress response.

  7. Carim-Todd L, Mitchell SH, Oken BS. Mind-body practices: An alternative, drug-free treatment for smoking cessation? A systematic review of the literature. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013;132(3):399-410. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.04.014

  8. Soulakova JN, Tang CY, Leonardo SA, Taliaferro LA. Motivational benefits of social support and behavioural interventions for smoking cessationJ Smok Cessat. 2018;13(4):216-226. doi:10.1017/jsc.2017.26

By Terry Martin
Terry Martin quit smoking after 26 years and is now an advocate for those seeking freedom from nicotine addiction.