How Quitting Smoking Affects Your Metabolism Medical Course
How to Quit Smoking Cold Turkey
Quitting cold turkey means giving up smoking all at once, without the aid of any nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products or stop-smoking drugs.
Many ex-smokers have successfully quit this way — you're most likely to succeed if you smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes a day and take the following steps to prepare.
Because you won't have the aids of NRT, it's particularly important that you are mentally ready.
Set a quit date:Pick a date two to four weeks in the future when you plan on quitting. Pick a quiet time of year when you have less on your calendar.
Stress can be a big trigger for smokers, making you reach for a cigarette, so don't try to quit around the time you have final exams, a big project due at work, or have other major stress-inducing events in your life.
Alternatively, if you're a social smoker, try to avoid a date around any festivities, like a wedding or class reunion.
Make a list of the benefits of quitting:Maybe you want to improve your health, save money, always said you would quit before a big birthday, or all the above.
Write down the list and keep it in your wallet or store it on your cell phone. Then, when a craving hits down the line, you can refer back to it to help find the strength to stay strong.
Know your habits:Think about the times you are most likely to smoke: is it with your morning cup of coffee, after dinner, out with friends, and/or on your way home from work?
Those times when you habitually reach for a cigarette are likely to be when your cravings are the strongest. Plan ahead and brainstorm a few alternate activities or distractions.
For example, get your coffee at a non-smoking cafe, take a walk after dinner, go to see a movie instead of hitting the bar, or take public transportation or carpool to commute for a while. The more you shake up your regular habits the more you will distract yourself from the desire to smoke.
Anticipate cravings:Nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug, on par with cocaine and heroin, and cravings are going to come.
On the plus side, they generally last no more than five to 10 minutes tops. Do what you can to distract yourself until the cravings passes, checkout what your friends are up to on Facebook, chew a piece of gum, or play a round of Candy Crush.
Know that the signs of nicotine withdrawal are temporary:Quitting cold turkey means you will experience the symptoms of withdrawal more intensely than if you used NRT products.
Fortunately, most withdrawal symptoms peak two to three days after your last cigarette and subside gradually after that. The most common effects of nicotine withdrawal include:
- Intense craving for nicotine
- Irritability, anxiety, restlessness, or boredom
- Trouble sleeping, including bad dreams and nightmares
- Feeling tense, restless, or frustrated
- Increased appetite and weight gain
- Problems concentrating
- Slower heart rate
- Constipation or gas
- Cough, dry mouth, sore throat, and nasal drip
Get your friends and family on board:Chances are, your close friends and family are thrilled that you're quitting smoking.
Ask them to help distract you from cravings by being available during your trigger moments for quick pep talks; plan activities in smoke-free places like the mall, movie theater and many restaurants, and to be understanding if you experience any irritability.
Join a support group:You may find it easier to quit if you can share your frustrations and success with people who are also in the process of quitting.
Check with your local hospital to see if they offer a program. Or call a national quit-smoking line, such as the American Cancer Society Quitline at 877-YES-QUIT. It offers support over the phone and can help outline different strategies for quitting.
Journal about the positive effects of quitting smoking:Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health.
For starters, your lung function improves up to 30 percent in two weeks to three months. Now that you've quit, are you noticing that you can walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded or is your complexion starting to brighten? Jot it down.
Video: 7 ways to get past nicotine cravings
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