quit smoking: If you’re a smoker trying to quit, boy do you have options. Patches, chewing gum, lollipops and even lasers, But if you’re overwhelmed with choice, maybe try nothing at all.
smoking is bad for you — it causes cancer and a gazillion other diseases. You know that. We know that. This is your life and we’re not going to tell you what to do. But we are going to tell you the science behind quitting if you or someone you know is trying to give up the habit. Now before we break down the options, we have to first understand why it’s so difficult to quit in the first place.
One word: nicotine. It’s what’s naturally found in tobacco and is as addictive as heroin and cocaine. When inhaled, nicotine travels quickly to the brain. There, it releases dopamine and other feel-good chemicals into brain cell receptors. This creates more and more nicotine receptors in the brain. When these receptors are starved of nicotine you go through intense withdrawal, which can lead to depression and tension, until you get your next fix.
So the trick may be to gradually give your brain less and less nicotine, which is where the highly advertised treatment of nicotine replacement therapy comes into play. We’re talking about patches, chewing gum, lozenges, inhalers, and even nasal spray and lollipops.
Table of Contents
- But is patch it effective?
- What about alternative ways to quit smoking?
- What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Smoking?
- Health results be?
- After 12 Hours.
- After 24 Hours.
- After 48 Hours.
- After 3 Days.
- After 3 Months.
- After 9 Months.
- After 1 Year.
- After 5 Years.
- After 10 Years.
- After 15 Years.
Let’s take one of the most popular methods, the patch. This is typically a reservoir of nicotine sandwiched between occlusive and permeable adhesive layers. Stick it on your skin and the nicotine slowly leaches through the layers of your dermis, to the hypodermis, which contains blood vessels needed to bring the drug into the bloodstream.
This happens at a much slower rate and a lower concentration than smoke inhalation. Different patches contain different amounts of nicotine, slowly ridding your body’s dependence on the drug.
But is patch it effective?
Health looked at 787 adults who had recently quit smoking. They were surveyed three different times over the course of six years and asked questions about what type of nicotine replacement therapy they had used, the duration of the therapy if they had consulted a professional, and their current smoking habits.
During each one of those check-ins, around a third of the participants had relapsed. This led researchers to conclude that “using nicotine replacement therapy is no more effective in helping people stop smoking cigarettes in the long-term than trying to quit on one’s own.”
What about alternative ways to quit smoking?
Some people have tried acupuncture and hypnosis, but based on some of our last videos, it’s a little up for debate on whether that works or not. And others have even tried lasers. Yes, lasers… well, low-level lasers therapy. The company Innovative Laser Therapy claims that an hour of therapy is all you’d need to quit your addiction.
The lasers target specific points in the body that the company alleges are related to addiction, claiming it relieves withdrawal symptoms and prevents cravings. Owner Frank Pinto explains, “The laser stimulates the nerve endings to tell the brain to release a flood of endorphins.” But “basically” isn’t science. And though there have been a few studies to determine its validity, they are few and far between with inconclusive results.
But perhaps the best thing to do is nothing at all. In a 2016 study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, 697 adult smokers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day were divided into two groups: those who quit cold turkey and those who gradually reduced their smoking over the course of two weeks.
Researchers recorded their results both four weeks and then six months later. Nearly half of the cold turkey group successfully quit smoking after a month, compared to 39% of those who gave it up gradually.
At the half-year mark, the rates of success reduced to 22% and 15% respectively, but this still means the cold turkey technique is still more effective than gradual reduction. Of course, other factors take place when finding the right way to quit like genetics and age.
So like many of our health-related episodes, it’s probably best to consult your doctor on what’s right for you. Quitting cigarettes is a great step towards a more healthy lifestyle, and if that’s your thing, you should check out Beachbody On Demand.
What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Smoking?
Apart from the fact it’s bad for your health, there are many other reasons to quit smoking. It’s expensive, it makes your hair and clothes stink, and in many places in the world, it’s considered unsociable with bans in bars and restaurants meaning you’ll need to leave the crowd and head outside for a puff. There are plenty of plusses to kicking the habit.
Health results be?
20 Minutes – In less time than it takes to commute to work, your body will already be fixing itself 20 minutes after the last cigarette is stubbed out, your pulse and blood pressure start to drop back to normal, circulation will start to improve, and your hands and feet will warm to their usual temperature.
After 12 Hours.
12 Hours – Cigarettes contain a lot of known toxins including a harmful gas, carbon monoxide. This gas can be fatal in high doses, as it prevents oxygen from entering the lungs and blood. At 12 hours, halfway through your first day, your carbon monoxide level is back to normal, which is great for your heart, as it doesn’t have to pump as hard to get enough oxygen to your body. Unfortunately, though, it’s at this point you’ll be feeling the withdrawal and cravings. A couple of ways to fight these feelings are by chewing gum or sipping water.
After 24 Hours.
24 Hours – Well done, you’ve hit the one-day mark! And the good news is that after just 24 hours, a person’s blood pressure begins to drop, decreasing the risk of heart disease, and blood clots that can lead to stroke. If you smoke a pack a day, you’re twice as likely to have a heart attack as a nonsmoker, and that risk has already been reduced considerably after just 24 hours. And with oxygen levels on the rise, physical activity and exercise will already feel easier.
After 48 Hours.
48 Hours – 2 days is a good time for a tasty snack. Smoking damages the nerve endings which decrease your ability to smell and taste properly, and after only 48 hours, your senses will get sharper as nerve endings begin to heal. Your body will also enter a detoxification phase, with your lungs kicking out mucus left from cigarettes. The downside is that this is when the toughest withdrawal symptoms show up. If you were a heavy smoker, you might feel dizzy, anxious, or tired. And you may also crave more food than usual.
After 3 Days.
3 Days – After 3 days, the nicotine levels in a person’s body are depleted. Ridding the body of nicotine leaves a person much healthier, but initially, this also adds to the effects of withdrawal.
At the 3-day mark, many people will become moody and irritable, experiencing severe headaches and cravings, as the body readjusts. On the positive side, energy levels will increase and you will breathe more easily.
After 3 Months.
During the first 3 Months – This is when the major improvements start. After a couple of weeks, the cravings will subside, and the chance of going back to the habit is far less likely. Your lungs become stronger and clearer, and your blood flow has greatly improved. You can exercise without huffing and puffing so much, and the risk of a heart attack goes down even more.
After 9 Months.
9 Months – 9 months after quitting, there will be major physical changes and improvements in the body. The lungs have significantly healed themselves. The delicate, hair-like structures inside the lungs known as cilia, help to fight infections will have recovered from the toll of cigarette smoke. Around this time, many former smokers notice a decrease in the frequency of lung infections because the healed cilia can do their job more easily. You’ll also be able to take deeper breaths, and energy levels will be a lot higher and back to normal.
After 1 Year.
1 Year – A big milestone with the habit in the distant past. Time to celebrate the achievement. The risk of heart disease has decreased by half and will continue to drop beyond this 1-year mark.
After 5 Years.
5 Years – After 5 years without smoking, the body has healed itself so that the arteries and blood vessels begin to widen again. This means blood is less likely to clot which lowers the risk of stroke, to the same level as a nonsmoker. And compared to when you first quit, you’re half as likely to get cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, or bladder.
After 10 Years.
10 Years – Lung cancer is one of the greatest risks a smoker’s faces and after 10 years, a person’s chances of developing lung cancer and dying from it are about half compared to a smoker.
After 15 Years.
15 Years And finally, after 15 years of quit smoking, the chances that you’ll get heart disease is the same as if you never smoked at all. Your body has done a huge amount of recovery and healing, rejuvenating the tissue and cells. From the first few weeks of headaches and discomfort to a fully healed body along path but the rewards are very real and clear. There’s no real argument to be made for continuing to smoke. As well as the changes to your health, your immune system will also improve, and your hair may become thicker and fuller, and your skin will age less quickly. But of course, it’s never easy, particularly during the first few days and weeks.