Smoking, most of the time, starts with only a curiosity, a sense of amusement, and a feeling of belonging within peers. But before you know it, it becomes a habit that is very hard to break. People usually feel trapped inside the vicious cycle of nicotine dependence and cravings and often attempt to quit smoking.
Cigarette smoking continues to be the most significant avoidable cause of death and disease in the United States, accounting for 480,000 premature deaths per year. It is related to be the cause of many diseases and the leading cause of cancer as well. But somehow, still, it is designed and advertised to make each one of us an addict!
WHY IS IT SO HARD TO QUIT SMOKING?
When a person smokes, hundreds and thousands of toxins and chemicals enter the body, including nicotine. Nicotine enters the circulation through the mouth and lungs linings and goes to the brain in a matter of seconds. It releases dopamine, also known as the happy hormone, and gives pleasure and reward as it reaches the brain. However, this feeling is only for few minutes, and it fades away when the cigarette ends, urging a person to go for another cigarette, and this cycle goes on…
This is how smoking becomes a destructive habit that is hard to break. The body becomes addicted to it, eventually increasing nicotine for mental satisfaction every time we smoke. Many of the people feel trapped in this labyrinth. When a person stops smoking, they may experience withdrawal symptoms like getting easily irritated, headaches, restlessness, and increased hunger.
These symptoms, however, go away after a few days and are usually gone after a month.
HOW DOES SMOKING AFFECT OUR BODIES?
Cigarettes contain many harmful chemicals and are damaging to our bodies in different ways. The effects of smoking are depended upon how much a person smokes and for how many years. It is also dependent on our genetics and gender. Following are the few research-based effects on the body systems;
- Staining of Gums and Teeth,
- Teeth loosening at early ages,
- Bad breath, and less food taste.
- A diminished sense of smell,
- Damage to the sinuses and layer around lungs,
- Frequent sinus infections.
- COPS (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease). It’s the 3rd leading cause of death In the US.
- Chronic Bronchitis,
- Narrowing of blood vessels,
- Coronary Heart diseases,
- Increased heart rate.
- Stroke. Increased chances of stroke by 2-4 times.
The Immune System:
Smoking reduces immunity and causes inflammation in the body, leading to autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, and SLE. Some links with type 2 diabetes were also studied.
Reproduction and Fertility:
- It is associated with Cataracts,
- Dry eyes.
- It causes facial wrinkles, oral wrinkles,
- Baggy eyelids,
- Yellowish or greyish skin tone, yellowing of fingernails and fingers,
- Dry skin.
It is a proven fact worldwide that smoking is the leading cause of cancer globally. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is responsible for about 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States and 80% of lung cancer fatalities.
How does smoking effects aging? Some untold truths here!
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BODY WHEN YOU STOP SMOKING?
According to the American Cancer Society, the following changes occur in the body when you quit smoking.
- Within 20 Minutes, → Your blood pressure and heart rate start to return to normal. And hands and feet return to average temperature.
- 2 hours later, → reduction in nicotine cravings and mood swings began, feeling tense and sad and having difficulty sleeping.
- 8 hours after quitting, → inhaled carbon monoxide clears, and oxygen levels in the bloodstream start returning to normal ranges.
- 24hours later, → increased coughing, which is a physiological process and a usual way of clearing toxins. This also causes the risk of coronary artery disease to fall.
- 48hours/2days mark → the elimination of nicotine, tar, and other toxins is complete, and nerve endings start to repair. This causes food to taste better.
- 72 hours later, → the nicotine withdrawal peaks with symptoms like headache, nausea, cramping, anxiety, and depression. But the worst is officially over!
- After 1 month, → The risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and Cardiovascular diseases has decreased.
- 3-9 months → The damaged cilia in the lungs are completely repaired. Making breathing fresher.
- 1 year later, → The atheroma formation (the fatty material deposits inside the blood vessels) reduces to almost half.
- 10 years → the probability of having lung cancer decreases to 50% with one who did not quit smoking.
- 15 Years →The risk of having heart disease reduces to a similar level as one who hasn’t smoked ever.
This whole timeline depends on how many years in the past one had been smoking. There will be irreversible damage to the lungs and susceptibility to develop lung diseases. But it’s better late than never! It is advised by doctors, scientists, and environmental specialists to quit smoking as soon as possible.
THE BEST WAYS TO QUIT SMOKING
In 2015, 68.0% of adult smokers (22.7 million) said they wanted to quit smoking. In 2018, 55.1% of adult smokers (21.5 million) said that they had made a quit attempt in the past year. Based on all the debate above, it’s always better to quit smoking. Here’s a low down on the most effective ways to quit smoking:
1. GOING COLD TURKEY
Cold turkey quitting is one method of quitting smoking. Individuals can totally quit smoking all at once without any adjective therapies like Nicotine replacement therapy or medications. People choose to quit smoking cold turkey for various reasons: a desire for a clean break from their smoking habit. Even when individuals are really driven to quit, it can be difficult to resist addiction.
According to a 2016 study, quitting cold turkey is more effective (6 months with 22% success rate) than gradually reducing nicotine consumption (6 months with 15% success rate). This study monitored participants for four weeks and six months after they quit smoking. Those who quit abruptly had a greater chance of remaining nonsmokers than those who quit gradually using NRTs. Another study done in 2019 concluded as Cold turkey being a choice of cessation method by many smokers in the USA.
2. COUNSELING AND HYPNOSIS
Behavioral therapy focuses on learning new coping skills and breaking those habits. Meanwhile, hypnosis gets you to a deeply relaxed state so that you are open to suggestions that can support your quitting by increasing the negative feelings towards cigarettes. Hypnosis has produced good and immediate results for many smokers struggling to quit smoking. The treatment may seem costly, but the advantages and the speed might be worth the bucks.
Consult your physicians if you are considering using medication to quit smoking. Varenicline (Chantix) works by binding to nicotine reception in the body reducing withdrawal symptoms, and making cigarettes less pleasurable. Bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin SR) works on the brain’s hormones. It appears to minimize the initial weight gain with stopping smoking. It cannot be used in those who have a history of seizure disorders.
4. NICOTINE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
When you have decided to quit, consult your doctor and ask about Nicotine replacement therapy or NRT. When you take this therapy, you get controlled doses of nicotine without the harmful toxins found in cigarette smoke. They come as patches, lozenges, chewing gums inhalers, and nasal sprays. NRTs are safe and effective cessation techniques when used appropriately, according to research in 2018. Your doctor can assist you in determining the best solution for you. Another study from 2017 found that persons who smoke 21 or more cigarettes per day are more likely to quit using NRT and gradually tapering off. Quitting quickly with the assistance of NRT was likewise more effective than the gradual method in 2019 metanalysis.
According to a 2016 study, NRT may significantly boost a person’s effective quitting of smoking by 50-70%.
5. THE E-CIGARETTE
An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is a device that allows users to consume nicotine in a vapor form without the other hazardous tobacco byproducts. Some studies have proven that e-cigarettes can help quit smoking because people can gradually reduce the nicotine content of the e-liquid in a similar way to NRT. Many medical practitioners believed that e-cigarettes might aid smokers in quitting; however, there is presently insufficient evidence. When used daily, electronic cigarettes appear to aid in cessation from smoking compared to smoking without assistance.
STEPS TO TAKE WHEN YOU WANT TO STOP SMOKING
Fortunately, several ideas and techniques might assist you in quitting smoking and keeping it off. You may guarantee your smoking cessation efforts are practical by understanding what you should (and shouldn’t) do while attempting to quit and educating yourself on what occurs when you stop smoking.
1. FIND YOUR REASON(S)
It’s important to find a personal reason(s) to quit smoking. Put it in writing that you need to quit, with all the reasons you have in mind like saving health, money for your children, or stamina that you will regain afterward. Keep on adding to it with time so that it can be more beneficial. Minor arrangements and mental preparation can make this easier. Start by calculating how much money you’d save, and you might become even more determined to quit smoking with surprising figures! (Think about what you can do with that money??)
2. PLAN TO QUIT SMOKING
Choose a day that you will stop this habit. Consider that day as a dividing line between you as a smoker and the new, improved nonsmoker you’ll become. It’s better to plan no more than a week or two ahead of time to avoid losing momentum. Nicotine temptation will bring you to test your lures. So throw away all your cigarettes and related accessories, even ashtrays, lighters, and, yes, that emergency pack you had on reserve.
3. THROW AWAY CIGARETTES
4. TRACK YOUR TRIGGERS
Avoid alcohols and other triggers that may make you feel tempted to smoke a cigarette. Once you’ve identified your triggers, try the following suggestions:
Break the link: If you smoke when you drive, or walk to the workplace, break this connection. If you had the habit of taking cigarettes after meals, do something different, like going for a stroll, playing a game on your smartphone, or chatting with a friend.
Find a substitute: It isn’t easy to adjust to not holding anything in your hand or not having a smoke in your mouth. If you’re experiencing difficulties with this, have carrot sticks, sugar-free gum, mints, toothpicks, or lollipops on board.
Take the change: Instead of eating takeaway in the car with your buddies so you can smoke, sit in the restaurant.
5. CONSULT A DOCTOR
It is advisable to consult a doctor and ask about health-related changes and better ways to quit smoking. After a complete examination of your body systems, they may prescribe you some drugs like varenicline, Bupropion, Nicotine replacement therapy, the E-ciggerrete, or a therapy group.
6. PREPARE FOR NICOTINE WITHDRAWAL
A highly addictive compound, Nicotine will cause many symptoms and urgency to consume it again upon its cessation. Here come a person’s own will and ability to manage this withdrawal. The withdrawal period, on the other hand, is just temporary. While the symptoms may be unpleasant, they will pass. Here is a fact sheet presented by Action on Smoking and health for possible withdrawal symptoms.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important too. Firstly, you will not regret or second thought about quitting smoking. Besides, eating high anti-oxidant legumes, fruits and vegetables can help improve your health while being physically active is very helpful to counteract certain withdrawal symptoms, including depression, sleep, and appetite. Check out how to find the best workouts for you here.
|Withdrawal symptom||How long it lasts|
|Light-headedness||less than 48 hours|
|Disturbed sleep||less than 1 week|
|Difficulty concentrating||less than 2 weeks|
|Nicotine cravings||more than 2 weeks|
|Depression||less than 4 weeks|
|Restlessness||less than 4 weeks|
|Irritability or aggression||less than 4 weeks|
|Mouth ulcers||can be longer than 4 weeks|
|Constipation||can be longer than 4 weeks|
|Increase in appetite||more than 10 weeks|
7. SEEK OUT SUPPORT
This support can be in the shape of family, friends, or even an online doctor’s consultation. Joining a therapy group where people with similar goals can make you more motivated to reach your goal. Reading about or hearing about other people’s experiences may both inspire and encourage you.
8. USE DIGITAL APPS FOR QUITTING
There are many applications available on online stores that can help you track your progress. These applications might help you keep track of your smoking habits and nicotine cravings. This information may be used to plan when and where to promote a new healthy habit instead of an old unhealthy one.
9. RELAX AND STICK TO IT
The simpler it will be to quit smoking, the longer you’re nicotine-free. The only way to keep the beast at bay is to keep nicotine out of your system. Don’t get de-motivated, and never let the passage of time and distance separating your bad habit obscure your thoughts. Revisit your reasons for quitting to keep your memory green. Stress is a trigger factor to smoke, so relax, exercise to blow the steam off or tune in to your favorite music, connect with friends. Many people try to quit smoking several times before finally giving up cigarettes for good. If you relapse, don’t get discouraged – think about the trigger, be aware of it, and try again.
10. REWARD YOURSELF
Allow yourself to enjoy a well-earned treat! Put money aside that you would normally spend on smokes. When you’ve gone tobacco-free for a week, two weeks, or a month, reward yourself. It might be a gift card, a movie, or some new clothing. Every year when you go a year without smoking, celebrate once more. You’ve worked hard for it.
Although quitting smoking is challenging, the advantages to your physical and emotional health are well worth the effort. And time is on your side – the earlier you quit, the earlier you’ll reap the health benefits.