What happens when you stop smoking?

What does withdrawal feel like and how do you cope with it?


When you decide to stop smoking, your whole life changes, you feel different, look different, and you can do more. After your body has recovered, you no longer feel out of breath after just a few minutes of physical exertion, and you will be able to breathe easier as well. A full recovery from smoking and its detrimental effects are possible, but it will take time. Let’s look at the kinds of changes you can expect to experience after you quit smoking.


The most noticeable changes will be cravings. Your cravings will become much stronger as you quit. In the first two days, your cravings will hit their peak, and in the first couple of weeks, you will feel irritable, moody, and emotional as your body urges you to start smoking again.

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You can deal with these cravings effectively by drinking plenty of water and exercising to get rid of the nicotine still left in your body. You also want to get some friends around you to offer support and keep you from going back to the cigarettes. After a few weeks, the cravings will almost entirely go away. You still have to be careful of triggers- those things that can make you want a cigarette- such as stress or visiting locations that you used to smoke.

The reduced cravings mean that you won’t feel as anxious and that you will feel more in control of your body and mind. Without the cravings there to bother you, your mind will feel clearer, and you won’t feel like you need a cigarette to think and focus.

Short-Term Benefits

Quitting smoking brings with it some almost instant benefits. You’ll feel less anxious, your heart rate will return to normal, and your blood pressure will go down to reasonable levels in just a few hours after you stop smoking. That’s because the majority of the nicotine has left your system by then, and your body will notice the difference.

You will also start to breathe easier, as your lungs clear up. This can become noticeable in the first week of quitting smoking. That means you will have better lung capacity and be able to exercise for longer periods of time without getting winded.

You should note that as your body adjusts to the tar leaving the lungs, it’s going to mean that you will suffer a bit. You will probably cough more often, and you will have a lot of mucous build-up to deal with as your body recovers. This may be annoying, but it means that your body is doing its job and expelling the toxins from your body.

Long-Term Benefits

Over time, your body is going to recover from the damage done by smoking. You may not realize how destructive this habit has been for you, but it has destroyed nerve endings, eradicated cilia in your lungs, covered the inside of your lungs with tar, diminished your lung capacity, put you at increased risk for heart disease and cancer and caused other effects that will take a long time to recover from. Over the next few weeks and months, much of this damage will subside as your body heals.

These are not changes you will notice right away or even as they happen, but gradual improvement will occur if you don’t go back to the cigarettes. You can even get your risk of heart disease and cancer back to normal levels, given enough time. You can speed the process along by eating healthily, consuming antioxidants, drinking plenty of water and getting regular exercise. This will help your body heal faster and get rid of toxins at a quicker rate.

What about If I Use Nicotine Treatment?

One of the most popular ways to quit smoking is to trade in the nicotine from the cigarette for nicotine contained in a patch, lozenge or chewing gum. While this can help you to stop associating your cravings with cigarettes, it continues the problem you have where nicotine is in your body. You can experience many of the changes listed above by taking on reduced amounts of nicotine with this treatment method, but the benefits you experience won’t be as profound. Keep that in mind as you try to decide what the best method of quitting smoking is for you.

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