Athens Regional Health System
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Tips for Quitting

Physical and Mental Addiction

Nicotine has two contradictory effects on the body:

  • Small doses (short drag of a cigarette) stimulate you and make you feel awake.
  • Large doses (a few deep drags) relax you.

When you have been smoking for a while, your body becomes accustomed to a certain level of nicotine in your blood. When that level drops, craving starts. That creates the cycle of craving and satisfaction. As time goes by, tolerance to nicotine builds up and you have to smoke more cigarettes to get the desired effect.

The ability nicotine has to stimulate and relax the body at the same time makes it a very psychologically addictive drug. Cigarettes can help people deal with stressful situations, inspire creativity and be a friend in times of loneliness.

Benefits to Your Body

As you continue to work toward becoming a non-tobacco user, it's a good idea to revisit the healing benefits of quitting. Instead of focusing of what you are losing, think of all you will be gaining. Your body will begin to repair itself immediately after you smoke your last cigarette:

Within ...

Improvement in Your Body

20 minutes

Blood pressure and pulse drop to healthier levels. Temperature of hands and feet increase to normal.

12 hours

Your blood's carbon monoxide level returns to normal

24 hours

Risk of heart attack decreases

48 hours

Nerve endings start to re-grow. Ability to smell and taste gets better.

72 hours

Breathing is easier

2 weeks to 3 months

Circulation improves. Energy increases. Lung function increases up to 30%.

1 to 9 months

Coughing decreases. Cilia (tiny hair-like structures) in the lungs re-grow, helping to keep the lungs cleaner and reduce infections.

1 year

Risk of heart disease falls to half of that of a smoker.

5 to 15 years

Risk of stroke falls to that of a non-smoker. Lung cancer death rate is decreased by half.

10 years

Lung cancer rate becomes similar to a non-smoker. Risk of other cancers decreases.

15 years

Risk of heart disease falls to that of a nonsmoker.

Another activity that may be beneficial is to write a good-bye letter to tobacco. Cigarettes or dip served as "friend" for many years. It was there when you needed it, didn't talk back, etc. and now it's time to say goodbye. This letter can be short or long, either way it's another step to removing tobacco from your life. Try it this week. It's one more step you can take to bring you closer to becoming a non-tobacco user.

Continue to focus on yourself, you deserve it! 

Nicotine Replacement

We hope your attempts to go "Cold Turkey" have gone well. However, if you find you need a little extra help in quitting, you may want to consider nicotine replacement. It might be the right option for you if:

  • You smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day.
  • You smoke within a half hour of waking up.
  • You smoke when you are sick.
  • You get antsy in places where smoking is banned.

Nicotine replacement medications are available in several different delivery systems:

  • Nicotine Patch - is applied to skin and replaced every 24 hours.
  • Nicotine Gum - can be chewed as needed, or on a schedule.
  • Nicotine Lozenge - used like gum, but is like a hard candy. Dissolves in mouth.
  • Nicotine Nasal Spray - sprayed in nostrils, quicker delivery of nicotine to the brain.
  • Nicotine Inhaler - looks like a cigarette, delivers a "puff" of nicotine vapor in your mouth, is not absorbed in the lungs like smoke.

You should wean yourself down to lower doses of the nicotine replacement drugs every 7 to 14 days until you are completely off nicotine.

Wellbutrin and Zyban are prescription antidepressants that are also used to treat nicotine addiction. They can be used alone or in combination with nicotine replacement.

Chantix (Varenicline) is a fairly new drug that many people have had success with. It works in two ways, it targets nicotine receptors in the brain and attaches to them and blocks them. It is believed that Chantix also activates these receptors, causing a reduced release of dopamine compared to nicotine. That in turn makes smoking undesirable.

Consult with your doctor about what option is best for you.

Good luck with your goal to go smoke free!

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