If cigarettes take a huge part of your routine, one of the most important favors you can do for yourself is to quit smoking.
Tobacco smoking has long been proven to have a myriad of adverse health effects. But despite this common knowledge, people are still drawn to this habit which can quickly become an addiction.
According to the CDC, about 14 out of 100 American adults or 34.1 million in the population smoke cigarettes. Out of this number, 16 million people suffer from a smoking-related illness.
The struggle to quit smoking has something to do with the potent and highly addictive substance found in tobacco – nicotine. The brain receives the nicotine triggering the release of feel-good neurotransmitters.
So, if your body has no nicotine to deliver to your brain, it messes up your brain chemistry causing problems with physical and mental health. With that, you have to plan and avoid some of the most common mistakes when quitting smoking.
1. Doing It Cold Turkey
People often decide to quit smoking and do it then and there. Then after a week or more, they revert to the old habit. After some time, they try to quit smoking again, and just like the first few tries, do it cold turkey. The cycle repeats, and in the end, you accomplish nothing.
While quitting smoking cold turkey does not necessarily pose any life-threatening conditions, it is certainly uncomfortable and can be extremely irritable. Hence, people just give in and smoke again.
Here are some of the physical and psychological effects of nicotine withdrawal:
- Intense cravings
- Increased appetite
- Digestive problems
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
The CDC reports that less than ten cigarette smoking adults successfully quit smoking each year. Most of them seek professional help and not just quit cold turkey. At the same time, others have found success in quitting during their first try. That is, even if it was done almost on the spot.
Some factors that drove success among these people are determination, involvement in smoking cessation programs, proper monitoring through a nicotine blood test, etc.
2. Not Asking for Support or Counseling
If you quit smoking and just do it on your own, it will be even more challenging. Thus, you need to have good support coming from friends, family, or a community.
Lean on the people you trust and include them in your journey. This way, there will always be a group of people who will monitor your progress, help you handle your withdrawal syndrome, boost your motivation, and inspire you to keep going.
On the other hand, you can also opt for counseling or therapy, especially if you are entirely struggling with smoking cessation.
In some cases, finding out the root cause of your habit or identifying your smoking triggers can be crucial to the withdrawal process. Seeking therapy could be the very thing you need.
3. Relying on E-cigarettes or Vapes
The diminishing nicotine in the bloodstream is one of the reasons why smoking cessation is like a massive mountain you’ll have to cross.
Therefore, experts recommend the use of nicotine patches or nicotine gum. With these alternative sources, you can gradually stop smoking with zero or minimal adverse effects caused by nicotine withdrawal.
In recent years, e-cigarettes and vapes went almost at par with cigarettes. As a result, it became a common substitute for the latter. Some people treat e-cigarettes and vaping as similar to nicotine patches. However, views about their effectiveness are split.
Just recently, a study published in JAMA Network Open contradicted the idea that e-cigarettes help smokers forgo cigarettes. Therefore, it suggests that switching to e-cigarettes as a means of preventing relapse can be ineffective.
4. Refusing to Get More Active
Some smokers who are going through smoking cessation are unaware of the benefits of exercise in managing their nicotine craving. So, not doing any physical activity will only leave you wanting to light a stick.
Furthermore, getting more active will prevent weight gain. Since your appetite will most likely increase when you quit smoking, there’s a high chance that you will be eating a lot of food. This could not just lead to weight gain but other metabolic conditions as well, like diabetes.
However, if you include exercise in your routine, you decrease the risks for these disorders. Likewise, getting active through exercise and sports can also improve your mood, which can significantly ease the psychological effects of withdrawal.
5. Giving Up After One Try
Quitting smoking is not exactly a walk in the park. It’s uncomfortable and can even be downright painful. In addition, the nicotine cravings can go crazy until you find yourself puffing a stick. This is why determined smokers often try again after a relapse. And that’s alright.
If you fail the first time, the best thing you can do is identify what went wrong with the smoking cessation. Was it the lack of support or the overdependence on e-cigarettes? Learn from your mistakes and have a better plan.
On the other hand, if you decide that one try is enough and you simply can’t shake smoking off your system, then brace yourself for the ugly long-term effects of smoking.
What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Smoking After a Week?
The first few hours after you quit smoking is crucial.
About six to eight hours after you start your smoking cessation, your heart rate will gradually slow down. Your blood pressure stabilizes, and your oxygen levels begin to increase especially as the levels of carbon monoxide return to normal.
Within a day after you quit smoking, your blood vessels become dilated, and the oxygen levels continue to improve your heart functions. This is because your bloodstream will only have negligible amounts of nicotine.
Two days after the start of your smoking cessation, you’ll notice that some of the senses numbed by smoking improves. For example, you get to taste food better and smell things easily as damaged nerve endings start to heal. This continues for about a week.
Benefits of Quitting Smoking
There’s no doubt you get more long-term benefits from quitting smoking than keeping the habit. And here are some of the health advantages you get from smoking cessation.
- Reduces the risks for respiratory diseases (COPD and lung cancer)
- Reduces the risks for cardiovascular disease like coronary heart disease
- Increases life expectancy and lowers the chances of premature death
- Improves sense of taste and smell
- Improves your oral health
- Improves your breathing
- Improves fertility and reproductive health outcomes
How Long Does It Take to Feel the Benefits of Stopping Smoking?
Two to three weeks. That’s how long it takes for you to feel the benefits of smoking cessation.
Within the first few days of quitting smoking, your body undergoes a significant adjustment that improves your health. But it is likely that you don’t notice these changes because uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms overshadow them.
Within a couple of weeks, all or majority of these symptoms disappear. Others may experience a longer time but what’s certain is that you will feel better in no time.
Quitting smoking is not an easy decision, but it is undeniably worth it. The withdrawal symptoms can be rough, but the benefits always outweigh the struggle.
Hence, make a plan before you mark the first day of your smoking cessation. Avoid mistakes such as doing it cold turkey, relying completely on e-cigarettes and vapes, refusing support or counseling, not getting enough exercise, and quitting the process so easily.
Also, it helps to consult your doctor to help to minimize the withdrawal symptoms. You can monitor the current level of nicotine in your blood through blood tests.
You can also opt for therapy, especially if smoking cessation is causing some undesirable psychological effects.