The First And Last Drag

I Remember The First Time I Smoked A Cigarette...

Do you remember your first drag on a cigarette? Maybe you were nine or ten years old, hiding out behind the garage or barn when you took your first puff on an illicitly gained cigarette. Perhaps you were a young teen, hanging out and trying your best to be cool like the rest of the "gang." Whatever the case, you probably remember the way you felt when the smoke hit the inside of your mouth, and you tried to inhale it.

Do you remember the heat of the smoke as it burned in your throat on the way to your lungs? How about that dizzy feeling and the sense of wanting to pass out cold that came along with the first time you inhaled? Don't you think it strange, and sometimes wonder at why you continued smoking when it hurt so badly on the first draw? Those who have been addicted to smoking for several years probably question themselves often on this very issue. Perhaps what is important to remember here is that when you started to smoke, you actually started to become addicted to a narcotic, and that is why it is often so difficult to quit.

Quitting Can Be Such Sweet Sorrow

Now that you've decided to "kick the habit", it is important to understand that your body will go through both physical and mental withdrawal processes as a result of the nicotine dependency created by smoking cigarettes. You had physical symptoms as you were becoming addicted, and you will experience others as you break the addiction. The good news is that these symptoms will last only a few short days and then, if you stick with it, you'll have them behind you.

What Your Body May Go Through

Quitting "cold turkey" will have immediate consequences, not the least of which is a weakening of the body. As with any drug, nicotine withdrawal may induce nausea, sweating, shaking, and increased heart rate as the body craves a fix. Cravings for tobacco are most common and the first couple of days are the worst for wanting to have a cigarette. The desire for a smoke and not having the desire satisfied can make a person irritable and moody. Trouble concentrating or sleeping may also be part of the package.

Because your mouth has become accustomed to the chemicals in cigarettes, when you quit you may develop mouth ulcers, blisters, and sores as the tissue in your mouth reacts to the absence of those chemicals. Drinking a lot of water can help to cleanse the tissues. As your lungs rid themselves of the toxins they've collected through smoking, a rough-sounding cough will probably start-if you didn't have one already. A tight chest may accompany the coughing, as more fresh air is able to fill the lungs that were once filled with smoke. You may cough up mucus, which could be brown or black-a reminder of the tar that lines your lungs from smoking.

It's All "Up From Here"

Knowing all of this can put a person off quitting. However, here's the good news. Within 20 minutes of quitting your body will begin the healing process, changing for the better. Oxygen levels return to normal after eight hours and your risk of heart attack decreases significantly after only 24 hours without a cigarette. The benefits only increase from this point. A few days of discomfort could translate into many long years of health once you've made the decision to quit smoking.