How Soon Do You Benefit From Smoking Cessation?
One of the main reasons it’s so hard to quit smoking is because all the benefits of quitting and all the dangers of continuing seem very far away. Well, here’s a timeline that shows how quickly the effects of smoking can be undone.
The first few weeks after quitting smoking are usually the most difficult and it’s safe to say that it normally takes at least 8-12 weeks before a person starts to feel comfortable with their new lifestyle change of being an ex-smoker. Withdrawal from nicotine, an addictive drug found in tobacco, is characterized by symptoms that include headache, anxiety, nausea and a craving for more tobacco. Nicotine creates a chemical dependency, so that the body develops a need for a certain level of nicotine at all times.
Unless that level is maintained, the body will begin to go through withdrawal. For tobacco users trying to quit, symptoms of withdrawal from nicotine are unpleasant and stressful, but only temporary. Most withdrawal symptoms peak 48 hours after you quit and are completely gone in six months.
Because the first two weeks are so critical in determining quitting failure rates, smokers should not be shy about seeking all the help they can during this period.
Withdrawal symptoms begin as soon as four hours after the last cigarette, generally peak in intensity at three to five days, and disappear after two weeks. They include both physical and mental symptoms.
Mental and Emotional Symptoms
Tension and craving build up during periods of withdrawal, sometimes to a nearly intolerable point. One European study found that the incidence of workplace accidents increases on No Smoking Day, a day in which up to 2 million smokers either reduce the amount they smoke or abstain altogether.
Nearly every moderate to heavy smoker experiences more than one of the following strong emotional and mental responses to withdrawal.
- Feelings of being an infant: temper tantrums, intense needs, feelings of dependency, a state of near paralysis.
- Mental confusion
- Depression is common in the short and long term. In the short term it may mimic the feelings of grief felt when a loved one is lost. As foolish as it sounds, a smoker should plan on a period of actual mourning in order to get through the early withdrawal depression.
During the quitting process people should consider the following physical symptoms of withdrawal as they were recuperating from a disease and treat them accordingly as they would any physical symptoms:
- Tingling in the hands and feet
- Intestinal disorders (cramps, nausea)
- Cold symptoms as the lungs begin to clear (sore throats, coughing, and other signs of colds and respiratory problem)
One of the keys to quitting smoking is acknowledging that smoking cigarettes is an addiction that can be managed and overcome. One of the main reasons people give up quitting is because they find the withdrawal symptoms so fierce and unexpected. Don’t worry! these symptoms are actually good news, signs that your body is purging itself of all the harmful chemicals cigarettes left in your body.
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