Posted by Dr. Scott Wilson | 06-Dec-2017
What Does Smoking Do to Your Body?
Nicotine is poison. In fact, nicotine is a very strong poison that is capable of killing a human in less than an hour when a small amount is injected into the bloodstream. Tobacco smoke contains traces of this poison in just the right quantity to cause dependence without immediate death. As if one poison is not enough, tobacco smoke contains another 4,000 chemicals that mix together into a sticky tar that not only clings to your clothing and skin, but clings to the inside of your lungs.
The inside of the lungs have tiny cilia that are responsible for cleaning out bacteria and dirt. When you’re a regular smoker, these cilia become coated in tar and fail to work properly. This means your lungs become dirty and prone to disease. The chemicals also contribute to various diseases like throat cancer, mouth cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and more.
Why Did You Start Smoking?
If someone told you they would take money from you everyday so that they could feed you poison that would eventually lead to your premature death by disease, would you agree? Probably not. So why did you start smoking? Most people start smoking when they are young, often before the age of 19. People often pick up their first cigarette for social reasons or to deal with stress. Soon the addictive components of nicotine make smokers dependent and desperate for a fix.
How to Quit Smoking This Year
It’s possible for you to quit smoking. If you’ve tried many times to kick this bad habit only to relapse, you may begin to feel like you’re simply incapable of quitting nicotine and have accepted your fate. Never accept a fate of premature death and disease if you can fight to control your own circumstance.
Think about the efforts each cell in your body go through everyday to keep your system working. Your heart pumps blood throughout your body, your lungs fill with air to keep you breathing, your cells split, your digestive system breaks down food and fuels you; there is an interconnected system working every moment to sustain you. Make a choice to stop poisoning it. You are capable of quitting smoking and the efforts that it will take to do so, are worth it. Your life and health are worth it.
- Decide Why It’s Worth It
Quitting smoking is not easy. You will have moments of weakness, cravings, and mood swings. You will find yourself making excuses as to why quitting isn’t worth the effort. Before you decide to start this recovery, you have to decide why it’s worth it to quit. When you’re feeling inspired, write down a detailed explanation of why you want to stop poisoning yourself. Is it for your family, so that you can live a long life and see your kids grow up? Is it out of respect for your body, do you want to change your lifestyle and be a healthier individual? Search for a reason that is bigger than just yourself and your temporary cravings.
- Make a Plan
Going cold turkey very rarely works without a set plan of rules and guidelines in place. This restrictive method can make you feel like you’re drowning without any support system or assistance. You need to prepare your mind and body for withdrawal. Meet with your doctor and discuss your goals, get an app that tracks the numbers of days without a cigarette for motivation, tell friends and family so you are held accountable, and rid your home of all cigarettes. Your brain is hooked on smoking and will not go out without a fight.
- Explore Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Studies have shown that nicotine gum, lozenges, and patches can improve your chances for success. Ingesting trace amounts of nicotine without all of the other chemicals, can relieve your body of some of the physical withdrawal symptoms.
- Talk to Your Doctor About Medication
Taking medication temporarily to help quit smoking is not the best option for everyone, but has been shown to work for many. There are drugs that can help alleviate nasty withdrawal symptoms like difficulty concentrating, depression, mood swings, or headaches. There are medications that interfere with nicotine receptors in the brain. This means it not only reduces symptoms of withdrawal, it also reduces the pleasure associated with smoking.
- Create an Accountability and Support System
Tell the people around you that you are taking a serious effort to quit smoking. Have a friend or family member available to talk to or call if you feel a severe craving. It’s also important to explain to the people closest to you that your irritability and patience may change over the course of your recovery from addiction.
- Treat Yourself in Other Ways
Participating in distractions that you enjoy can help take the attention off the cravings. If smoking was a major source of stress relief for you, find other activities to alleviate stress. Spend the money you would have spent on a pack of cigarettes, and save up for a deep tissue massage. Join a gym or workout class that helps you release built up stress and tension. Book an event like a hockey game or concert that you can look forward to. Bringing more joy and less stress into your life will help you stay positive throughout your recovery.
- Make a Lifestyle Change Not Just a Habit Change
Curbing unhealthy habits becomes a lot easier when it’s part of an overall lifestyle change. This may sound like a lot to take on, but it actually makes recovery from cravings easier. You can make smoking incompatible with your way of living so that going out for a drag is no longer an option. Create a meal and exercise plan that involves nutrient-rich meals and strength training workouts. When you start physically feeling better you will be less inclined to poison your body and more motivated to continue living healthy. Never follow a strict diet when you’re quitting smoking, too much restriction can backfire into rebellion.
- Don’t Drink Alcohol Early On
Drinking alcohol can lower inhibitions and make caving into cravings easier. After indulging in a few drinks, your temptations to have a smoke increase. Going to bars also promote smoking culture and social influence. It’s hard to pass up on your nicotine addiction if you’re walking through clouds of smoke and being offered a spare cigarette at every turn. Skip the bar for the first little while to make things easier on yourself.
- Progress, Not Perfection
Very few people quit smoking on their first try. Try and try again when it comes to quitting. Don’t look at attempts as failures, look at them as learning experiences. Observe what makes you cave and how you can prevent it next time. Build a more detailed knowledge on you and your bad habit with relapses.
- Have Hope
You are capable of quitting smoking. Don’t just be hopeful, be confident that you are capable of quitting. You are working toward a future that is attainable. More good news? Your body is miraculous at recovering from the damage caused with each cigarette. Your heart rate can go back to normal, within a day your blood’s carbon monoxide levels equalize, in 2-3 weeks you lessen your chance of a heart attack, and eventually the chance of contracting lung cancer and other diseases becomes significantly reduced.
You Only Have One Body, Treat It Well
In the end, smoking is just a bad habit you picked up. You don’t need to smoke to survive, in fact, you need to stop smoking to survive. Make a commitment to quit a destructive habit and trade it for one that is healthy and nourishing to your body. Use these simple steps to get motivated and get started on your smoke-free life.