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When a person who smokes decides to quit, it is called smoking cessation. Often, this decision is associated with a desire to lead a healthier life by eliminating the risks that are associated with smoking. Freeing oneself from the habit of smoking, however, is not an easy task, as tobacco products contain the addictive chemical known as nicotine. Because of its addictive nature and problems that are associated with nicotine withdrawal, there is a significant risk of relapse. But the vast majority of smokers want to quit, and up to half make the attempt to do so every year.
Smoking Cessation Methods
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways for smokers to quit, although no one method is universally successful. The most common method falls under the umbrella of do-it-yourself smoking cessation. One of the most common and well-known examples of unassisted cessation is an immediate and abrupt attempt to stop smoking altogether. This method is popularly known as the “cold turkey” approach, and it does not include the use of any therapy or medication. Another example of a self-help tactic is to taper off, or gradually reduce one’s habits until they can abandon tobacco smoking entirely. Typically, this technique also involves setting a date for when tobacco smoking will cease completely.
Smokers may also resort to methods that involve nicotine replacement products such as nicotine gum, which provides the body with nicotine in order to deter the user from smoking to satisfy their craving. There are also nicotine patches and inhalers that deliver a dose of the drug to reduce the impact of withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine replacement products contain less nicotine than cigarettes and enable the person to gradually reduce their intake of the drug until they no longer need any at all. In addition, they do not contain all of the harmful chemicals in cigarettes, such as arsenic, tar, carbon monoxide, or formaldehyde.
Another means of quitting smoking involves seeking assistance to quit one’s tobacco habit. Community help is available in many forms, including local support groups, treatment centers, and turning to doctors for prescription medication. Prescription medication used to help tobacco smokers quit includes bupropion or varenicline, marketed as Zyban or Chantix, respectively. Family and friends are also reliable resources when it comes to quitting smoking. The Internet also offers support groups that smokers may turn to for help. More uncommon methods for trying to quit include acupuncture, aromatherapy, hypnosis, and herbal remedies.
Immediate Health Benefits of Quitting
There are significant benefits that tobacco smokers can appreciate right away when they decide to stop smoking, some of which begin just 20 minutes after the last cigarette. For example, the body’s blood pressure and pulse rate will begin to decline toward normal levels. Within a day, oxygen levels will increase, while the amount of nicotine and carbon monoxide within the body will start to subside, along with the odds of a heart attack. After two days without smoking tobacco, a person will notice that their sense of smell and taste have improved. The lungs will also start to improve in function after two to 12 weeks, as will blood circulation. Another immediate and important benefit of quitting smoking is the financial benefit. Smoking is a very expensive habit, and thus, quitting smoking will immediately add money to a person’s budget.
Long-Term Benefits of Quitting
Over the long term, ex-smokers will enjoy more physical energy to exercise and do general tasks like walking up stairs. Sexual function will improve due to the improvements in blood flow throughout the body. It will also improve a woman’s ability to get pregnant and eliminate smoking-related damage to a man’s sperm. The improvement in oxygen flow in an ex-smoker’s body will result in slowing the aging of the skin and delaying the onset of wrinkles. Quitting smoking will also reduce the risk of damage to the eyes, such as cataracts. The most important benefits of quitting smoking are the reduction in the odds of heart attack, stroke, and various cancers, and as a result, quitting can add years to one’s life.
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