Quitting smoking: 9 strategies for cessation

Quitting smoking is easier said than done. We show you the benefits of quitting smoking – and present 9 methods you can use to prevent reaching for the glowing stick.

Young woman smokes

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One piece of good news first: There are fewer and fewer smokers in Germany – and the trend is still downward. According to a forecast by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of smokers in the German population over the age of 15 could reach around 16.2 million by 2025.

This would continue the downward trend and the number would be more than a quarter lower than in 2000 (22.22 million).).

But: Nevertheless, there are still enough of those who just can’t give up the glowing stick and smoke regularly.

Lung cancer, respiratory diseases or cardiovascular problems: There are many good reasons to quit smoking – nicotine and its 4,000 or so harmful accompanying substances are the health predators par excellence.

But as is often the case, it is easier said than done. Nevertheless, one should not tire of tackling smoking cessation.

How quickly the body benefits from quitting smoking

Smokers who smoke before 35. According to a study, smokers who quit before the age of 18 have the same life expectancy as non-smokers.

However, positive effects set in even after just a few hours. Here is an overview of the positive effects:

  • According to 20 minutesThe blood pressure falls, the temperature of hands and feet rises to the normal value.
  • After 8 hours: The carbon monoxide content of the blood falls to the normal level.
  • According to 24 hours: The risk of suffering a heart attack has already decreased.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months Later: blood flow is improved, lung capacity is up to 30 percent higher.
  • Up to 9 months Later: coughing subsides, you are less short of breath and more alert. The lungs can better protect themselves from infections.
  • 1 year later: the risk of coronary artery disease is now half that of smokers.
  • 5 to 15 years later: the risk of stroke decreases to that of a non-smoker.
  • 10 years later: among ex-smokers, the risk of dying from lung cancer is reduced by half. The risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas is reduced.
  • 15 years later: all risks are reduced to the level of a non-smoker.

Nine strategies for quitting smoking

The most important thing is: you become a non-smoker in your head! Means you have to really want it. No matter which method you choose – acupuncture, hypnosis, non-smoking seminar, anti-smoking app, nicotine patches, globules, etc. – Only if your will is strong and you stand firmly behind it, the resolution to give up smoking will be crowned with success.

1. Iron will

Half of smokers succeed in quitting without seeking help – with a strong will. This is especially true for occasional smokers or those whose addiction is not as strong.

The other half finds it difficult to keep their hands off cigarettes for good. Here addiction and habit are already too big.

Many seek advice, but often fall for dubious promises. Good to know: A method is considered effective if you are still abstinent after one year!

One thing you should not try, however, is to limit your consumption in the long run. You remain addicted and feverish for the remaining cigarettes.

Just one to four cigarettes a day significantly increases the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. The only solution: quit altogether.

2. Behavioral therapy

Changing ingrained behaviors is harder than you think. With books like the classical one ?finally nonsmoker?!’ by Allen Carr and other behavioral therapy instructions for self-help, "maybe 15, after professional therapies 30 to 40 percent of all smokers are still abstinent after a year," says Dr. Hubertus Friederich of the University Hospital for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy in Tubingen, Germany.

This works by closely analyzing your own behavior, substitute activities and reward strategies. Recommended, but not sufficient in the case of a strong addiction to stop smoking successfully.

3. Medication

Physical dependence leads to withdrawal symptoms during smoking cessation, such as sleep disturbances, lack of concentration, nervousness, constipation or hunger pangs.

A nicotine replacement product has a success rate of up to 15 percent after one year. "In many cases, prescribing varenicline, a drug introduced in 2007, can also be useful," says Friederich. Most common side effects: Nausea and headaches.

Tip: "The combination of medication and. Nicotine replacement medication and psychotherapeutic support roughly doubles the abstinence rate," says the expert.

4. With acupuncture to the non-smoker

On the method acupuncture explains Dr. Bernd Ramme, president of the German Academy for Acupuncture, the procedure: On our earlobes are so-called addiction points. They are differently strongly pronounced with each individual.

Before the acupuncture session, you should not have smoked for a few hours or longer, then the acupuncturist can feel your addiction points particularly well with a point locator.

He places disposable gold or silver needles in exactly these places, which are usually removed after 20 minutes. This will have an effect on the central nervous system via the ear.

"It works like an eraser," says the specialist, "the desire to smoke is basically erased away."He estimates the success rate at 70 to 80 percent. Two sessions are usually necessary.

5. Support through apps

Various anti-smoking support apps are available for both Android and iOS systems. Because the smartphone can help you kick the habit.

Anti-smoking apps like "QuitNow!", "Smoke Free" or "My last cigarette" usually motivate you with shocking pictures, inform you about your personal state of health or show you concretely how much money you have "saved" already.

According to the German Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), German citizens spend 24.3 billion euros a year on tobacco products.

6. Smoke-free with Hypnose

"Hypnosis," explains Olf Stoiber, chairman of the professional association for hypnosis, "can not conjure the desire to smoke out of the head." Hypnosis is also not about working against the will, he says.

After a longer, about two-hour conversation, the patient is put into a kind of relaxation sleep. The critical mind is put to rest, the unconscious is strengthened suggestively in the following 30-minute hypnotic trance.

So it’s all about "self-empowerment": What can I do for myself when the impulse comes that I need to light up a cigarette now??

The difficult thing for ex-smokers, he says, is to replace the benefits that smoking supposedly gave them with other positive points.

Sports, breathing or relaxation exercises: "The main thing is to find something you can do for yourself at such moments." Because the problem of the unspeakable nicotine addiction lies above all on the psychological level. Over years of smoking, many situations are loaded with positive smoking memories.

7. Meditation

The mind calms down, we focus on our flow of thoughts in a whole new way – which can include the desire for nicotine. A possible step to give up this desire as well.

Meditation creates an open mind in people willing to change – z. B. with breathing exercises in the moments when otherwise the smoking ritual takes hold.

8. Sport

Scientists at the University of Exeter in the UK found out in a study why it’s best to swap your fag for sports shoes. The researchers had nicotine-addicted subjects abstain from the beloved glow stick for 15 hours twice.

After the first abstinence, the study participants were shown images that normally trigger a desire for a cigarette and measured the effect on affected brain areas. For the second session, the men and women were allowed to pedal loosely for 15 minutes beforehand.

The result: After the exercise session, the brain regions showed significantly lower reactions to the same images. Smokers also reported that they had significantly less craving for a cigarette after exercise. So it’s worth doing sports to fight addiction.

9. Step by step emergency solution

The absolute emergency solution for all those who can’t quite part with nicotine yet, but want to lower the dose noticeably for the time being: In so-called tobacco heaters (for example, from Iqos), the tobacco is not burned, but only heated, so that "only" tobacco vapor, a kind of aerosol, is inhaled.

The studies currently available show, subject to conflicts of interest and limited study quality, that the aerosol from tobacco heaters does indeed contain fewer pollutants than tobacco smoke and that the consumer is thus exposed to a lower level of pollution – but there is still a non-negligible health risk, since tobacco itself contains carcinogenic substances that are not only harmful when burned.

The extent to which the reduced exposure to tobacco cigarettes translates into a lower health risk in the long term cannot yet be assessed.

Quitting smoking and gaining weight – what helps??

While many people who quit smoking gain weight, there are also plenty of ex-smokers who maintain their weight.

On average, 80 percent gain around 4.5 kilograms in the first one to two years after quitting smoking. But some people maintain their weight and some even lose weight. Only a few gain more weight.

So obviously the extra flab is not inevitable. If you follow these tips, you’ll manage to keep your hands off cigarettes – without the pointer on the scale moving upward.

Why do you gain weight when you smoke?

Nicotine is like an appetite suppressant. If you then stop smoking, you have to reckon with the fact that you will be hungrier than usual and sweets will attract you magically.

Many people simply eat more to compensate for the missing cigarettes. Chocolate, potato chips and other sweets are now used as substitutes for the cigarette.

The more you smoke, the higher the risk of eating more and gaining weight accordingly. But: Gaining weight does not have to be.

Stick to clear dietary guidelines from the start: Eat three proper and satisfying meals a day. Two to three snacks are allowed.

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