Smoking has always been a part of our culture. People smoke for various reasons, some do it to help them deal with stress while others do it for pleasure. Like drinking, smoking is a socially accepted practice making it easier to acquire this habit. However, quitting isn’t always as easy as starting. It’s true that some smokers quickly manage to eschew smoking, but many smokers have tried countless times before they were able to quit for good. This begs the question; how long does it really take for one How to Quit Smoking?
What Keeps You Hooked
One of the main ingredients that cause cigarette addiction is nicotine. Nicotine is responsible for the increased levels of dopamine in the human brain. The release of dopamine can cause one to experience pleasure and other similar sensations.
When you smoke a cigarette the nicotine in the smoke is absorbed by your lungs. This allows the nicotine to travel through your bloodstreams which makes for a fast and direct route to your brain. Once it reaches your brain, it binds itself to your brain’s nicotine receptors releasing dopamine in the process. Because cigarette smoke contains high amounts of nicotine, your brain creates more nicotine receptors. Increased nicotine receptors create the urge to feed your brain with more nicotine causing cigarette dependency – making it harder to quit.
How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?
Quitting can be tough and it’s always easier said than done. Knowing how long nicotine can circulate in your system can help you deal with your dependency. Here are a few examples:-
Traces of nicotine can be present in your hair and saliva for up to three months. It can also be found in your urine from four days up until three weeks while your blood can show evidence of nicotine presence for up to ten days. The frequency and method of how you ingested nicotine may help determine how long it’ll stay in your body. Other factors can also affect the presence of nicotine in your system like your medication. For example; high-blood pressure medicines like Amlodipine can slow down the chemical reaction of nicotine in your body while antibiotics can speed up nicotine metabolism.
By knowing how long it takes for nicotine to get flushed out of your system, you can have a clear idea when and how the urge to smoke will last. Having said, here are some steps you can take to help speed up the process of clearing your body of nicotine.
- Eating food rich in antioxidants
- Drinking enough water
- Exercising daily
Food rich in antioxidants will help clear the toxins out of your system, you can help your body increase the rate of eliminating nicotine through exercise and drinking water. Exercise will help you sweat out nicotine while drinking water can help your body flush out nicotine through your urine. To get more tips on quitting, visit Smoke-Free, they write a lot of tips and guides on how you can stay away from smoking.
Given the span of three months, your body will start to experience the following changes.
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered heart rate
- Stabilized levels of carbon monoxide
- Improved respiratory circulation
While it’s good to know that your body starts to heal the moment you decide to quit, you’ll also start to experience some unpleasant effects. Here are the common withdrawal symptoms and the stages where you’ll most likely encounter them.
1. The Urge to Smoke
While smoking urges will happen throughout your body’s healing process, you’re most likely to have a hard time dealing with it in the first week after you decide to quit. This happens because the nicotine receptors you’ve built are no longer fed their daily dose of nicotine. Your body starts to adjust to the decreased dopamine production.
2. Mood swings
Your urge to smoke will oftentimes be accompanied by sudden mood changes. This can be observed during the first two weeks of quitting. As your brain begins to realize that it’s being deprived of its usual nicotine dosage, you will begin to experience profound short-term mood changes. Most smokers opt to feed their cravings with snacks to trick their brain into producing dopamine without nicotine.
3. Weight Gain
As you start to replace smoking with snacks, you’ll begin to gain weight. Common cigarette replacements include chocolates and candies. Weight gain can happen from the first week to the first month of quitting. As you begin to flush out nicotine from your body, you’ll begin to experience a reduction in snack intake which can help you get back to your original bodily weight.
4. Sleep Deprivation
Because dopamine is also directly involved in sleep regulation, you’ll experience annoying sleep problems. Most smokers who decided to quit experience this withdrawal symptom in the first month of quitting.
Other sudden adverse effects happen in the early stages of quitting. These include coughing, constipation, and flu-like symptoms. These will most likely manifest in the first two days after you quit.
Gradual or Cold Turkey?
Because the common withdrawal symptoms, many smokers opt to find a solution to curb these adverse effects. Depending on your body’s reaction to nicotine loss, you can opt to quit gradually or abruptly.
Gradual cessation involves the use of nicotine replacement like nicotine patches, gums, or vaporizers. These replacement options can help you manage nicotine weaning while immediately eliminating the adverse effects of inhaling combustible matter. Vaporizers, for example, lets you play around with e-liquids of varying nicotine levels.
This means you can start with an e-liquid with a nicotine level your body is familiar with and make your way as you slowly reduce the nicotine content until you reach zero.
You can also wean off cigarettes and reduce the amount you take daily. However, experts still advise using replacement devices to help your body heal and cope up faster.
Studies have shown that those who quit cold turkey have higher rates of relapses than those who chose nicotine fading methods.
Remember that every dependency is different. What works for some might not work for others. It’s still best to consult a physician and seek professional advice especially if you have existing medical conditions.
Because each individual may have different responses to smoking cessation, we cannot exactly tell how much time it takes to quit smoking. However, knowing how long it takes to flush nicotine out of your body will help you gauge and manage withdrawal symptoms. Ultimately, knowing how your body responds to an immediate or gradual loss of nicotine will help you determine how long it can take for you to quit.