What to expect when quitting smoking
In an article from the National Cancer Institute, they list “starting your day” as a trigger for smoking. Let this bleak prediction be your warning; it’s not easy to quit smoking.
When you put down your last cigarette, crushing the last bit of hot ash against your driveway or dropping the butt into a trash can, your health improves immediately. Within an hour, your heart rate and blood pressure start to normalize. Soon after that the carbon monoxide levels will be reduced which will allow the blood to carry oxygen around the body more effectively.
Your circulation will improve the longer you go without cigarettes and you will stop coughing and wheezing. After several months lung function will improve and quality of life will take a positive turn. After one year your cardiovascular health improves dramatically.
That is the good stuff. While the good stuff is happening so is withdrawal.
Cancer.gov tells us about 80 to 90 percent of smokers are addicted to nicotine and will experience symptoms of withdrawal when they try to quit cigarettes. Re-entrance to a nicotine free world comes at a cost.
Withdrawal from nicotine is known to make people angry, irritable and anxious. Studies show that most people will undergo four symptoms of withdrawal including weight gain, depression and most commonly nicotine cravings. U.S. News and World Report call the rates of successful quitting “dismal.”
It’s not pleasant, it doesn’t work without following a program and you might get fat. Why try quitting at all?
The Center for Disease Control classifies cigarette smoking as the “leading preventable cause of death in the United States.” It hurts almost every organ in the body leading to heart and respiratory disease. It can cause cancer in almost every area of the body and it contributes to increased healthcare cost.
So you try to quit because you’re afraid. After dealing with the cravings, and the irritability and the urge to eat cake everyday, you are faced with triggers. You had little moments of your day carved out for a smoke break that are now free. You would drive your car with your hand out the window holding a cigarette. Now the window is closed but you itch to roll it down and pull out a pack. Quitting is hard because everyday life is a trigger. Just having nothing in your hands is a problem.
It is important to know your triggers so that you can control them. When things like eating, drinking coffee, boredom and waking up are triggers it is impossible to avoid them. Following a program to quit and making sure you have help along the way is the best way to approach quitting. They will give you tools to deal with triggers and the frustration that comes from quitting.
It is typical to slip after one week of trying to quit. The best way to counter this is to be prepared because if you can see it coming you can try to prevent it. You need to know what to expect.
You should expect it to hurt. You should expect it to be easier to breathe. You should expect to save money. You should expect to snap at your loved ones. You should expect to be angry for no reason. You should expect to need help.
You should expect it to save your life.