Quitting smoking elicits strange sensations, feelings and mood swing that can last for up to two weeks. These sensations are actually the body’s way of telling you that it is experiencing nicotine withdrawal. These first two weeks are crucial, because at any point, it may trigger you to start smoking again, if only to feel better.
Slipping up after quitting, however, is normal for many smokers who have tried to break off the habit. To help better manage this, some turn to medication so that they do not have to puff a cigarette ever again. These medications may come in a form of tablet, nasal spray, patches, inhalers, gums and pills, and studies about its effectiveness have proven that it is a successful method for quitting smoking.
More commonly referred to as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), this method provides a smoker— or ex-smoker—with a skin patch, gum or candy that has the same chemicals as cigarettes, but with little nicotine content. The purpose of this is so that the body’s cravings for nicotine are satisfied, without ever really needing to light one. These NRT medications do not need any prescriptions from the doctor, except if you decide to use inhalers or sprays.
Use of nicotine medications may last about three months. When under treatment, you would have to completely do way with any tobacco intake, as puffing one while taking an NRT medicine, can have dangerous consequences to your physical health.
Non-nicotine medication works to block chemicals that let your brain crave for a puff. You will normally begin with taking small doses, before moving on to a full dose when you’re body gets used to the new system.
Bupropion hydrochloride and Varenicline are two popular non-nicotine medicines. Bupropion hydrochloride is actually developed as a depression medication, but it has been known to also help smokers quit the habit. Obtaining these will require a doctor’s prescription, and use of it will have to be carefully monitored and supervised, because these can react with other medications. Taking it may last up to three months, depending on the doctor’s assessment.
While these methods help with the symptoms of withdrawal or curb the cravings, you may still experience difficulty with quitting if certain habits and lifestyle choices remain the same. For instance, if you’re constantly around people who smoke or come to a gathering where it’s so conducive to light a cigarette, and you have little willpower to resist this, it would be easy to fall back into the habit.
Additionally, incorrect use of these medications may also not inhibit any attempt at quitting. Deciding to quit smoking, therefore, requires your full commitment for the process to succeed.
Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Whether you’ve quit smoking at a young age or at a later age, the result is the same: the risk to lung cancer and heart attack greatly decreases to as much as 50 percent, compared to the ones who still smoke. The risk to other forms of cancer also decreases significantly.
The question, however, is if the damage to your body, as a result of smoking for many, many years, can be completely reversed. The experts say that:
- In three months after quitting, your lung function gradually improves. Because the airways are no longer inflamed, it will be easier to inhale and exhale properly.
- Within the year after quitting, hair-like elements in the lungs called the cilia, returns to normal function. Mucus starts to clear and episodes of coughing and breathlessness becomes infrequent.
- If you have been a long-time smoker, however, there is a small chance you have already developed chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases like emphysema or chronic bronchitis. These are effects that can no longer be undone when you stop smoking, because the lungs cannot be able to recover.