A Timeline For Planning For Quitting

Making a plan for quitting smoking is an important and intelligent approach for many reasons.

Man (smoker) is holding cigarette in hand on black background. Smoke around.

Knowing how to initiate smoking cessation, when to expect withdrawals symptoms to depart, and what health benefits to expect during the timeline will all help you reach your goal. This timeline is intended for smokers who are not using the assistance of prescriptions or other nicotine interventions. Seek help as soon as possible if anything during the timeline is alarming or concerning.

Before Starting

Before beginning your process toward quitting smoking, talk to those with whom you spend the most time. Ask them for support and patience as quitting smoking is best with those who know what your intentions are. It is even more beneficial if you have the advice of friends and family who have also experienced smoking cessation.

Talk to Your Doctor

In just five minutes of discussion, your doctor can be your best asset while you begin your journey to being smoke-free. Physicians can quickly assess your overall health, talk to you about your goals, and recommend the best plan of attack. You may be asked if you want to try patches, medications, or quit “cold turkey” meaning nicotine-free immediately. From there, he or she can recommend a good course for quitting and a general timeline.

Make a Plan

Knowing what will happen over the next few weeks and months and then years can help you prepare. Arm yourself with a “quitline” such as 1-800-QUIT-NOW for when needing advice or when times get difficult.

Also consider using online or face-to-face groups or counseling for the challenges ahead. Last, if you are choosing to go nicotine free, plan ahead for withdrawal symptoms as well as if needed, products to help your recovery. For example, you might consider using nicotine-free e-cigs to at least replace the feeling of smoking.

Calendar- Week 1

When you do finally go cold turkey, your body immediately starts having a reaction, a positive reaction toward healing.  In 30 minutes, blood pressure and pulse rate returns to normal.

In eight hours, your nicotine levels in your blood drops dramatically, to almost 94%. Your cravings may begin now, if they have not already. Prepare yourself with distractions, preferably not food. Think chewing gum or a walk outdoors, far from cigarette sales.

By twelve hours in, the oxygen in your blood will have increased to just about normal. Your carbon monoxide levels, though, will reverse. You are on your way to healing! Keep motivated.

The first few days are the hardest. At one full day, you may feel your anxiety and frustration levels are at their peak. However, if you stay on target, this will steadily decrease over the first two weeks.

Day two brings new challenges but renewed wins as well. Your smell and taste receptors will have regenerated, but irritation levels are maxing out.

By day three, nicotine and nicotine metabolites will be flushed from your system. Using detox support teas and lots of water can help your body with this process. Also, this is when the signs of chemical withdrawal are highest. Combat agitation, moodiness, and periodic cravings with exercise, St. John’s Wart, yoga, and meditation. Some also invest in acupuncture and aromatherapy as well.

On the average, the middle to the end of the first week will show the most temptation with cravings up to, on average, three times a day. Prepare yourself with a support system of products and people. However, after the first week and a half, those same cravings will begin to slow.

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