How to finally quit smoking
An estimated 13.8% of Maryland adults smoke. Although these numbers have gone down in recent years, health experts say this number is still far too high.
Perhaps your new year’s resolution was to quit smoking. If it was, more likely than not you have already lapsed and picked up a cigarette again. And you’re not alone – experts tell us that the average smoker will try to quit between 8 and 15 times before finally kicking the habit for good. There’s no denying that quitting is extremely difficult:: after all, nicotine is a highly addictive chemical, comparable to heroin and cocaine.
In this article, we will provide you some inspiration to break your toxic relationship with cigarettes, and give you some tips on how to finally kick the habit for good!
Dangers of Smoking
You probably already know that smoking is bad for your health. However, the actual statistics may surprise you: male smokers are a staggering 23 times more likely to contract lung cancer than non-smokers. Cigarettes have also been linked to at least 15 cancers, not just lung cancer, as well as chronic health conditions such as stroke, diabetes and heart disease. The last is the number one killer of adults in the USA.
Further, it’s not just your physical health which is affected by your cigarette habit. Smoking has also been linked to mental health issues: experts tell us that if you are prone to anxiety or depression, smoking can make these conditions worse. Smoking has also been linked to infertility in both men and women and can cause miscarriage during pregnancy, as well as fetal abnormalities. Your oral health also suffers due to your smoking habit, with smokers more prone to oral infections, cavities, and loose teeth, because smoking cigarettes attack your immune system, restricts blood flow and reduce the concentration of oxygen in the blood.
What To Expect When You Quit
Quitting smoking is probably one of the most difficult things you will do in your life. As soon as you cut the nicotine intake which your body is so addicted to, you will immediately feel the effects. You can expect to feel withdrawal symptoms from a few hours after your last cigarette, for as long as two to three weeks. Withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, depression, dizziness, headaches, and sleep problems.
The good news is, though, that as soon as you quit your body starts to repair itself and you will start to feel the health benefits.
Some of the benefits you can expect to see after quitting:
- Nerve endings in the mouth and nose start to recover within 48 hours, and enhanced senses of taste and smell will return
- Breathing becomes easier within 72 hours, as oxygen levels in the blood begin to improve and the bronchial tubes in the lungs begin to open up
- “Smokers cough” and mucus levels will start to subside around this time also
- Within 2 weeks circulation will start to improve
In the long term: risks of contracting lung, esophageal, kidney, bladder and pancreatic cancer are significantly reduced within 3-5 years of quitting, and risk of heart disease has returned to the same level as non-smokers after 5 years.
Tips To Help You Quit
Smoking cessation aids such as nicotine gum, patches and e-cigarettes have been shown to have greater success rates compared to quitting “cold turkey”. This is because you can step down your nicotine addiction over time, making it easier to kick the habit and lessening withdrawal symptoms. Although these kinds of aids contain nicotine, they generally do not contain the harmful toxins and carcinogens found in cigarette smoke meaning that you can already start to feel the health benefits of quitting even while still in the process of breaking your nicotine addiction.
Another thing which will help you to be successful in quitting smoking is having a support network around you. Tell your friends and family that you are quitting, and ask for their support: this could be holding you accountable to sticking to your goals, participating in other activities with you to keep your mind off smoking, or simply understanding when you are in a bad mood over the next few weeks.
Be aware of the kinds of lifestyle habits and activities you normally associate with smoking: for example your morning coffee or going out for drinks in the evening. Either replace these activities with something which doesn’t involve smoking, or have a plan for how you will do it without a cigarette in your hand. Finally, it is a good idea to pick a time without any other external stresses – moving house, particularly busy times at work and so on – to quit smoking.