“Cigarette smoking is injurious to health.”
How often do we hear this, yet continue to light up our favorite cancer sticks at every given a chance? Ever wondered why?
Cigarette smoking or tobacco smoking in different forms start as a statement of being “cool” by our peers and colleague and soon becoming the quick fix to an adrenaline rush on our bad days. Having an almost immediate effect on our hearts and our brains, nicotine is known as a highly addictive drug with increased tolerance through everyday use.
Within 10 seconds of inhalation, Nicotine can cross the blood-brain barrier triggering dopamine to be released. Smokers feel pleasure and calm, reducing their withdrawal symptoms.
Nicotine addiction is termed as harmful and as addictive as heroin or cocaine by the Royal College of Physicians, delivering a dose of nicotine rapidly to the brain. Classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, under the sub-category of dependence and withdrawal, smoking has soon become one of the most prevalent, preventive causes of death!
Dopamine depletion causes these symptoms return, and with it, the urge to smoke. The process of trying to quit smoking brings with it, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and difficulty concentrating, irritability and depression, often leads smokers back to cigarettes.
Scary enough to make you want to quit?
Quitting sounds easy, but it is not really. Nicotine addiction is the silent killer that sneaks into your lifestyle without even you noticing it — preparing to live smoke-free works as the first step to making a successful plan to quit. However, laying your hands off those cigarettes still don’t seem easy. Let’s look at what happens once you decide “NO MORE”
What happens when you quit?
Other than your body saying a big thank you! The positive impact of quitting can be seen as soon as 20 minutes, lowering your heart rate and improving your lung function as early as two weeks. Every stage of being smoke-free has a horde of benefits that you have silently been depriving your body of. A glance below sums it all!
There is no one way to quit
Cold turkey or gradual reduction, the choice is yours. Whatever you pick, you’ll never go wrong. A few people find it easier to quit smoking at one, no replacement, no medicines just cold turkey. While a few find this the best way to let go. Just ripping the band-aid off at once, a few find it easier to withdraw gradually. A researched fact about quitting cold turkey remains that only 4 to 7% of people who attempt to quit smoking can do it cold turkey. Getting support from your healthcare provider, which includes counselling and medication, can double your chances for a successful quit.
Cutting down on the number of cigarettes, a little bit each day can help you slowly reduce the amount of nicotine intake per day. Replacements such as nicotine gum, electronic cigarettes, vape pens, tobacco lozenges and pouches work as effective replacements for gradual quitters.
It is not all sunshine and daisies when you quit
Short-term effects are known with smoking cession do include weight gain, irritability, and anxiety. Some people try several times before they succeed. However, ask us, we know that trying is what matters!
Whenever there’s an urge to use tobacco, remember that although it may be intense, it will probably pass within five to 10 minutes whether or not you indulge in your craving or give in to your urge. Each time you resist a tobacco craving, you are one step closer to stopping tobacco use for good.
How to quit smoking? – Here are a few ways to quit smoking for good
1. Nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine replacement is one of the most accessible alternatives to smoking, but should never be done without the consultation of a doctor. Nasal sprays, inhalers, nicotine patches, gum and lozenges available at over the counter. Prescription nicotine medications such as bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix) work to curb the cravings as well.
Short-term nicotine replacement therapies — such as nicotine gum, lozenges, nasal sprays or inhalers can help you overcome commonly intense cravings.
2. Electronic cigarettes
Grabbing attention around the globe, e-cigarettes or vape pens are an alternative to smoking conventional cigarettes. While easily accessible to children, these may be harmful due to prolonged use due to the presence of nicotine in the vape liquids as well. No research yet qualifies these as a long-term solution to smoking cession.
3. Identifying triggers and Delaying cravings
The urge for a smoke is one of the greatest barriers to smoking cession. Habitual triggers such as smoking after food, with alcohol, after sex or due to stress, anxiety, loneliness or boredom may be identified through therapy and help in overcoming one’s cravings.
It is very easy to fall back into a smoking relapse while encountering these triggers. If you typically smoke while you talked on the phone, for example, keep a pen and paper nearby to occupy yourself with scribbling rather than engaging in the act of smoking.
Delaying one’s cravings also helps take your mind off the urge. Waiting for a few more minutes, drinking some water or chewing on gum helps fight the craving.
4. Do not give in to ‘just one’
You may be drawn to have just one cigarette to satisfy a tobacco craving. However, do not chump yourself into trusting that you can stop right there. In most cases, having just one leads to another, and you may end up indulging into tobacco again and losing track of your progress of trying to quit smoking.
5. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for smoking cessation
Clinically approved by researchers around the globe, CBT refuses to look at addiction as a lifelong disease, viewing it as a learned behaviour instead. The goal of Cognitive-behavioural treatment is learning new, more effective behaviours to take the place of the addiction behaviours.
It focuses primarily on shifting one’s cognitions or thought process about smoking and replacing it with divergent behaviour instead. A change in your thoughts can be implemented by examining thought patterns that lead to smoking and then learning more effective pattern learning alternate behaviours involve identifying the functions that smoking serve, replacing smoking with other behaviours that serve the same function. Physical activity, sports, exercise, swimming and varied muscle relaxation techniques have proven to help overcome urges which in turn help fighting the urge for one more cigarette.
The end to cigarette smoking is not impossible, difficult yes but never impossible. With multiple alternatives at our reach, it is time you put it out, before it puts you!