By now, you know that smoking is awful for your health, but it can be a very difficult thing to give up. This is because cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance that makes you mental and physically crave cigarettes.
We can support you on your journey to give up smoking with information about lifestyle changes, medications, and therapy.
Complications of Smoking
While you may be aware that smoking is bad for your health, you may not be sure about the particular health conditions it can cause. Some of the worst complications of smoking include:
- Heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes
- Lung disease, including cancer and COPD
- Hearing and vision loss
- Dental issues
Smoking can be deadly, but even if it doesn’t ultimately kill you, it can leave you suffering from painful and debilitating diseases for the rest of your life.
It’s also important to note that smoking doesn’t just affect the smoker. Second-hand smoke can also cause issues for those around you, including the same severe conditions smokers may experience, such as cancer and heart disease.
How to Quit Smoking
There’s lots of advice out there on how to quit smoking, but because everyone is different, what might work for one person may not work for you. Check out the following list of tips and tricks to find those that are most compatible with your mindset and particular circumstances.
- You may have tried to quit smoking in the past and failed. Don’t let past failures be an indication of what may happen in the future. Every day is a new opportunity to succeed, so stay positive and keep trying.
- The decision to quit isn’t a single choice; it’s a journey. As with any journey, you need a roadmap, complete with goals. Set those goals, and hold yourself accountable to getting there. Don’t let one bad day derail your entire journey.
- Learn more about how diet affects your smoking habit. For example, some studies have shown that consuming meat may make cigarettes taste better. Determine which foods may affect your decision to smoke, and make dietary changes.
- What you drink can also have an effect on how often you smoke. Drinking carbonated drinks like soda or consuming alcohol may make you more likely to smoke. Try switching to plain water to stop these cravings.
- Many people create habits around their smoking. For example, you may pull out a cigarette on your lunch break, as soon as you get home, or after having dinner. Recognize these habits and try to change them.
- Like habits, who you hang out with might dictate when you reach for a cigarette. If you have friends with whom you often smoke, limit your time with them or only engage in activities that prevent smoking, such as dinner or a movie.
- Find alternatives to smoking. For some people, smoking is a way to stay busy, so find something new to do. Whenever you feel the urge to smoke, try chewing gum. If you miss the motion of putting something in your mouth, consider filling your cigarette pack with pieces of licorice instead.
- Make sure that you’re getting enough exercise. Physical activity can clear your mind and help you break your dependence on smoking. Exercise can also help you heal from some of the ill effects of smoking by strengthening your lungs and heart.
Alternatives to Smoking
Smoking can become part of your lifestyle, and I can also be another reason it's difficult to quit. Consider the following smoking alternatives to help you keep the habit.
- Nicotine replacement — the nicotine contained within cigarettes can have a strong hold on you. If you're trying to quit smoking, consider getting your nicotine from a different, more controllable source. Nicotine gum and patches deliver nicotine in specific doses so that you can better manage and eventually eliminate your cravings.
- Electronic cigarettes — also known as e-cigs or vapes, electronic cigarettes are battery-powered faux cigarettes that use liquid cartridges filled with flavorings and other types of chemicals. Some contain nicotine, but because these devices create vapor, it’s thought that they are safer than traditional cigarettes.
- Therapy — as there are an array of reasons for why you may smoke, behavioral therapy could help you uncover the root cause and make changes that will break the habit.
What Happens When You Quit Smoking?
When you stop smoking, you can see positive results in as little as an hour. Here’s what happens:
- After one hour: Your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal levels
- After 12 hours: Your body will filter out the chemicals and carbon monoxide that cigarettes left in your body
- After 24 hours: Your risk of suffering a stroke has diminished, and you’ll find it easier to move around because you can breathe easier
- After 48 hours: You’ll notice that you sense of smell and taste will come back
- After 1 month: Your lungs are healing, so you’ll notice that your shortness of breath and coughing will diminish
- After 12 months: You chance of having a heart attack is cut in half, and your blood circulation will improve
- After 15 years: Major issues left behind by smoking, such as dilated blood vessels and lung disease, are almost fully healed
- After 20 years: There are no remaining traces that you were a smoker; you have the potential to be as healthy as someone who doesn’t smoke