How Smoking Affects the Human Body and How Quitting Now Can Reverse the Damage
There is no denying that quitting smoking is among the hardest habits to break. For many people, the only way to truly give up is with the help of medication and quitting aids. But here are some important reasons why you should make it top of your priority list for the New Year.
It is important to bear in mind that there is no such thing as cheating or ‘quitting properly’. Everybody is different and, as any former smoker will tell you, no one kicks the habit in precisely the same way. Medication and tools to handle the cravings can be effective in breaking the smoking cycle and in this section we will outline some of the options available to you.
Whether it is medication, patches, gums or sprays, it is important to know exactly what you are putting in your body and how you might benefit from each quitting aid.
Your GP or pharmacist can help advise on this, and answer any questions you may have. Or please feel free to contact our own NHS Smoking Cessation advisors on 0208 123 0703.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) works by releasing nicotine into your bloodstream to help control your body’s cravings after you quit. The nicotine is released at a steady rate and without the poisonous chemicals present in tobacco smoke.
NRT comes in a variety of forms, and is probably the most common stop smoking treatment available. One form hasn’t been proven more effective than the other, but one might be more fitting for you depending on how heavy a smoker you are. If you usually smoke as soon as you wake up, you might want to opt for the 24-hour patch to keep on top of your cravings.
Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that produce a vapour alternative to tobacco smoke. In the case of most e-cigarettes, the vapour contains nicotine.
However, there is on-going controversy surrounding the safety of e-cigarettes, as the long-term health implications are not yet fully understood. Plans have been announced to regulate e-cigarettes from 2016. In the meantime, however, they are only covered by general product safety legislation and are not frequently recommended by health professionals.
E-cigarettes are not available on the NHS.
Champix is a prescription-only stop smoking treatment. It offers effective and safe relief from cravings and symptoms of withdrawal by reducing the body’s dependence on nicotine. It does so by blocking the receptors in your brain that would normally respond to nicotine.
Unlike other stop smoking treatments such as nicotine patches and gums (NRTs), Champix does not contain nicotine and helps to remove all dependence on the addictive drug. An added benefit of Champix and its active ingredient varenicline is that it acts to reduce the mood swings and irritability often associated with quitting smoking.
It is recommended to start taking Champix 1-2 weeks before you decide to quit as it gradually reduces the rewarding effects that nicotine usually has on your brain during this period – and therefore reduces the impact of those first few days without cigarettes.
Want to know how quickly you could benefit from quit smoking treatments? This infographic shows you everything you need to know: