Do you want to stop smoking, but just can’t seem to kick the habit?
Learn why smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your health, along with tips on how you can beat the habit for good.
Why You Need To Quit Today
You know that cigarettes are bad for you, but how exactly does smoking effect your health?
Here are conditions and diseases which have been proven to be caused by smoking:
1. Coronary heart disease
CHD, the result of plaque build-up inside of arteries, is the #1 cause of death in both men and women in the US today.
Related: 11 Ways To Keep Your Heart Healthy
Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells within the body at an uncontrolled rate.
Cancers which result from smoking can find their home in the lungs, bladder, esophagus, mouth, throat, blood, bone marrow, and stomach.
3. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Smoking cigarettes is the #1 cause of COPD, a condition which restricts airflow in the lungs, and is the 3rd leading cause of death in the US.
4. Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Most common in men over the age of 60 who have one or more of the common risk factors…and you guessed right – smoking is one of them.
A respiratory disease that causes the bronchial tubes in the lungs to become inflamed. This can result in difficulty breathing and coughing spells.
Related: You’re Probably Not Breathing Right. Here’s How To Fix It
Bronchitis can grow increasingly worse the longer someone smokes, and may even become permanent.
A stroke is the result of blood failing to reach a part or parts of the brain. This can cause brain cells to die if it lasts for more than a few seconds, and causes permanent damage.
Emphysema prevents your body from obtaining the full amount of oxygen it requires, making it difficult to catch your breath. It may result in a chronic cough or difficulty breathing during exercise or every day activities.
8. Erectile dysfunction
Even if you’re not scared of dying young, you probably want to live a good life while you’re on this side of the dirt.
Related: 8 Ways You And Your Partner Can Increase Your Sex Drive…In And Out Of The Bedroom
For most, that means having an active sex life, and—speaking to the men specifically here—that’s going to be hard to do if you can’t get an erection.
Several studies have shown that smoking cigarettes is a lead contributor to impotence.
What’s In Cigarettes That Does All This Nasty Stuff?
Smoking can lead to all of those problems and more, but what is it exactly in cigarettes that cause this damage?
6. Ethylene Oxide
9. Vinyl Chloride
Each of the listed ingredients can cause permanent harm to someone with regular exposure, such as smoking cigarettes.
Related: 9 Ways To Stop Smoking (Without Losing Your Mind)
With all of these harmful ingredients and negative ramifications that go with smoking, quitting would seem like the obvious choice; however, as a smoker very well knows, smoking is quite addictive, and quitting cold turkey can be immensely difficult.
Smoking: How The Addiction Works
The addictive nature of cigarettes can be laid primarily at the feet of a single ingredient: nicotine.
Cigarettes contain between eight and 20 milligrams of nicotine depending on which brand you buy; the differing levels of nicotine are not important, however, as only about one milligram is absorbed into your body when you smoke.
The first thing nicotine does to your body is force it to release adrenaline rapidly, as well as extra glucose, which will make you feel more ‘alive’ and have more energy.
Related: 7 Ways To Get More Energy (Without Napping)
This then leads to an increase in receptor activity within the brain (receptors deliver signals to the muscles from the brain).
Your body naturally controls receptor activity on its own, but the activity induced by nicotine cannot be regulated by the body.
This burst of activity is followed by the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine into your brain’s reward pathways.
This causes you to feel happy, calm, and at peace. These feelings are what cause the addiction, as your body craves this feeling and compels you to smoke to achieve those feelings.
While your body craves these feelings all the time, the effects of nicotine typically last only a few hours. This means that most people will end up smoking several times throughout the day to keep up with the body’s demands.
Related: 4 Steps To Getting Rid Of Negative Thoughts
This becomes even more of a problem as time goes by, since your body naturally develops a tolerance to nicotine and requires more of it to achieve the same feelings.
This causes most people to smoke more cigarettes more often, thus increasing their risk for all of the conditions associated with smoking.
What Happens When You Quit?
Your body will suffer from withdrawal when you deprive it of the nicotine it has grown accustomed to.
When you first stop smoking, you may be faced with:
1. Intense cravings for cigarettes
In case you weren’t already aware, when you first quit, you’re going to crave to smoke like crazy.
2. Decreased blood pressure and heart rate
The nicotine in cigarettes makes your heart rate and blood pressure considerably higher due to stimulating effects.
3. Temporary changes in your personality
All of these changes in your body is going to make you cranky. Let your loved ones know that you’re going to quit so they’ll be understanding.
4. Weight gain
Nicotine also increases the metabolism, so without it, you may gain some weight. However, don’t let this deter you—this higher metabolism is not good for you, and often leads to smokers being unhealthily thin.
Related: 5 Diet And Weight Loss Myths That Are Holding You Back
All of these symptoms can be eased by finding the right method of quitting for you, and will decrease in severity the longer you go without smoking.
The things to remember when you are struggling with your resolution are the many benefits of quitting. The benefits of quitting only increase the longer you stay away from cigarettes. And the effects will kick in almost immediately.
Here’s a timeline of what will happen when you stop smoking.
What Happens When You Quit Smoking
Your blood pressure will return to normal rates.
The nicotine in your bloodstream will have fallen by 93.25 percent.
Your anxiety levels will have hit their highest point, and it will only decrease from here.
Your nerve endings will start to regrow, and your sense of taste and smell will start returning to normal.
Your body will test nicotine-free, and your withdrawal symptoms will be at their highest. The symptoms will only decrease from here.
Your addiction should now be under your control, and your cravings will be drastically reduced in severity.
Your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke will have dropped to lower than half of what it was increased by as a smoker.
Related: How To Prevent Heart Disease In 3 Steps
How to Quit Smoking
It’s never simple or easy to stop smoking, but it can be done if you find a way that works for you.
Some people find that they can quit cold turkey, while others require aids such as nicotine patches or group therapy.
Each method has its own benefits and the key to success is finding the one that is right for you.
Methods Of Quitting Smoking
1. Cold turkey
This is the simplest way of quitting, but it is also the most difficult. All that this method entails is simply deciding to stop smoking, and sticking with it.
If you have exceptionally strong willpower, this may be the right method for you, but most people look to other ways to assist them in quitting.
2. Nicotine replacement
Nicotine replacement therapy typically involves the use of a nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, inhaler, or e-cigarettes.
By using these nicotine replacements, the body receives the nicotine which it is craving, without all of the harmful effects associated with cigarettes.
The amount of nicotine in the replacement methods can be decreased over time until your body is able to break away from nicotine completely.
3. Non-nicotine medication
Two medications which do not contain nicotine but can aid you in quitting are Bupropion hydrochloride and Varenicline.
Related: Is Your Medicine Making You Sick?
These drugs work by preventing the chemicals which make you crave nicotine from getting to your brain.
These medications may help you to stop smoking, but may not be the best choice for you depending on what medications you currently take (drug interactions can be dangerous), or if the drugs cause behavioral side effects.
Hypnosis is used in an attempt to associate negative and unpleasant outcomes with smoking at a sub-conscious level and reduce or eliminate the desire to smoke.
The effectiveness varies widely from person to person, and it is also believed that one in four people cannot be hypnotized at all.
Related: Does Hypnosis Work? Yes. A Hypnotherapist Explains How
5. Cognitive behavioral therapy
Behavioral therapy is another method of trying to quit which does not involve drugs or other substances.
In cognitive behavior therapy, a trained therapist works through individual issues and teaches you how to cope with feelings and distorted and negative thought patterns, while also helping you to change incorrect beliefs.
The therapy also helps to deal with the stress and unhealthy thoughts and behavior that often come with quitting.
6. Support groups
You are certainly not the only one who is trying to stop smoking, and you do not have to do it alone. There are many support groups for those attempting to quit which can make it easier to accomplish.
Support groups can help you stay motivated, let you get your feelings and thoughts out in a safe environment, provide you with hope and the confidence you need to quit, and help you stick with your decision to quit.
Extra Tips to Help You Quit
All of the benefits mentioned above and more can be yours if you manage to quit smoking cigarettes for good.
Even knowing all of the benefits, though, it can still be very difficult to quit and stick to it. These tips can help you maintain your resolve on the way to a smoking-free life.
1. Eat your fruits and vegetables
Researchers at the University of Buffalo conducted a study to determine whether eating fruits and vegetables would help those who quit smoking from relapsing.
Their results stated that those who ate more found it easier to fight off their addiction, and also suffered from fewer cravings.
Related: 15 Simple Ways To Eat More Fruits And Veggies
2. Know why you want to quit
Decide why you want to quit, be it for your child, your good looks, your health, or any other reason, and stick to it. Remind yourself regularly why you are quitting and reaffirm that it is worth it.
3. Don’t do it alone
Get help from your friends, your family, and other important people in your life. Quitting can be hard, and those close to you can make it easier, and help keep you on the right track.
4. Manage your stress
One of the most common problems that people who quit smoking have is the excess stress it causes. Smoking helps deal with stress, and now that you have quit you need to find new ways to cope.
Try exercising regularly, getting massages, or even avoiding stressful situations for the first few weeks after you quit.
5. Clear out the house
When you quit smoking, you should obviously throw out all of the cigarettes you own. What may be less obvious is the fact that your house, car, and other places can still smell like smoke.
Related: How To Declutter Your Home
Remove ashtrays, clean the carpeting and walls, deodorize, and anything else that removes all traces of smoking from your life. If you are reminded less often of smoking, you will find it easier to quit.
6. Reward yourself
When you quit smoking, you will have all the money you used to spend on cigarettes (which is a lot!) available to you.
Use this money to reward yourself with a gym membership, a new gadget, or whatever makes you happy. Remind yourself when you buy these things that it is quitting that allowed you to get them.
7. Keep on going
If you do not succeed your first try at quitting, do not give up. It takes most people many attempts to quit for good, and the only way to succeed is to keep on trying.
You can try different methods, products, groups, and many other changes to help you succeed this time around.
Related: 3 Steps To Achieve A New Goal
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your health, causing problems including cancer, heart disease and erectile dysfunction.
The good news is if you’re looking to quit, there are more resources available now then ever before. Plus, you’ll start to experience the benefits of quitting almost immediately. So do yourself a favor: drop the bad habit and start living a healthier life by taking the necessary steps to stop smoking today.
Photos by SHIRAHOSH1 and stayhealthier
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