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Heart Disease Health Center

Smoking and Heart Disease

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How Can I Avoid Relapsing?

These tips may help to you avoid relapsing and smoking again:

  • Don't carry a lighter, matches, or cigarettes. Keep all of these smoking reminders out of sight.
  • If you live with a smoker, ask that person not to smoke in your presence.
  • Don't focus on what you are missing. Think about the healthier way of life you are gaining.
  • When you get the urge to smoke, take a deep breath. Hold it for 10 seconds and release it slowly. Repeat this several times until the urge to smoke is gone.
  • Keep your hands busy. Doodle, play with a pencil or straw, or work on a computer.
  • Change activities that were connected to smoking. Take a walk or read a book instead of taking a cigarette break.
  • When you can, avoid places, people, and situations associated with smoking. Hang out with non-smokers or go to places that don't allow smoking.
  • Don't substitute food or sugar-based products for cigarettes. Eat low-calorie, healthful foods (such as carrot or celery sticks, sugar-free hard candies) or chew gum when the urge to smoke strikes, so you can avoid weight gain.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, but limit alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. They can trigger urges to smoke.
  • Exercise. Exercising will help you relax.
  • Get support for quitting. Tell others about your milestones with pride.
  • Work with your doctor to develop a plan using over-the-counter or prescription nicotine-replacement aids.

How Will I Feel When I Quit Smoking?

You may crave cigarettes, be irritable, feel very hungry, cough often, get headaches or have difficulty concentrating when you quit smoking. These symptoms of withdrawal occur because your body is used to nicotine, the active addicting agent within cigarettes.

When withdrawal symptoms occur within the first two weeks after quitting, stay in control. Think about your reasons for quitting. Remind yourself that these are signs that your body is healing and getting used to being without cigarettes.

The withdrawal symptoms are only temporary. They are strongest when you first quit but will usually start to lessen or even go away within 10 to 14 days. Remember that withdrawal symptoms are easier to treat than the major diseases that smoking can cause.

You may still have the desire to smoke, since there are many strong associations with smoking. People may associate smoking with specific situations, with a variety of emotions or with certain people in their lives. The best way to overcome these associations is to experience them without smoking. If you relapse do not lose hope. Seventy-five percent of those who quit smoke again. Most smokers quit three times before they are successful. If you relapse, don't give up! Plan ahead and think about what you will do next time you get the urge to smoke.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on June 28, 2012
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