Here’s Why You Should Kick the Habit
Tobacco and nicotine are some of the most addictive substances. In fact, they can be just as addicting as heroin. They affects every organ in your body and even changes the chemistry of your brain. Once you put nicotine in your body – whether it be in the form of chew, cigarettes, or cigars – it only takes 10 seconds to reach the brain. There are more than 6000 chemicals released and inhaled into your body when you smoke. These chemicals include arsenic (rat poison), formaldehyde (embalming fluid), lead, tar, and much more.
Second-hand smoke can be just as dangerous as using the product yourself. Second-hand smoke is when a non-smoker breathes in smoke from a smoker. The smoke from a cigar cigarette can stay in the air for several hours after someone has finished smoking. Long-term exposure to this residual smoke can cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, and asthma. Children who are exposed can have severe complications with asthma and even develop bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections.
How Tobacco, Nicotine, and Smoking Affect Your Body
- The brain develops a “need” for nicotine by the creation of extra receptors to accommodate the dose of nicotine you are intaking.
- When you quit, you experience withdrawal with symptoms like anxiety, irritability, and strong cravings.
- Head and Face
- Tobacco may cause hearing loss due to the decrease in oxygen provided to the inner ear.
- Tobacco can cause blindness and night vision changes as well as an increased risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. These could end a driving career unnecessarily early.
- Nicotine increases blood pressure which puts extra stress on your heart. Tobacco also increases cholesterol and fatty deposits which lead to heart disease.
- Tobacco causes, sticky thick blood which increases the risk of blood clots.
- Smoking causes chronic diseases that often lead to death. Some examples of these are lung diseases such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and emphysema. This occurs when smoking destroys the air sacs that are inside the lungs which allow oxygen to exchange. As they are destroyed, your oxygen capacity decreases thus increasing the damage done to the lungs.
- Smoking paralyzes the vacuum fibers within your lungs causing chronic cough, infections, and viruses. These can lead to increased number of sick days taken.
- DNA or Genetic Code
- Tobacco use leads to cancer as it damages DNA which can cause uncontrollable cell growth.
- Stomach and Hormones
- Tobacco causes fat to store in the abdominal region which causes bigger bellies compared to non-smokers.
- Tobacco can cause diabetes and can cause pre-diagnosed diabetes to be uncontrollable.
- Blood and Immune System
- Wounds take longer to heal which can cause infections and added visits to your doctor to treat them.
- A weakened immune system which causes more sick days to be taken and hospital visits.
- Muscles and Bones
- Tobacco causes muscles to deteriorate and it is harder to build muscle.
- Bones are more fragile compared to non-smokers. Meaning a bad fall could cause painful breaks to bones.
You Can Quit
Here are a few ideas to help you get started taking steps today to become smoke-free.
- Tobacco Cessation Programs
- “Freedom from Smoking” instructor facilitated the program.
- Quit Cold Turkey
- Not recommended. Smokers going cold turkey are more likely to cheat or relapse on their quit plan than those who use nicotine replacement therapy or are a part of an instructor led program.
- Nicotine Patches and Products
- Widely available and relatively inexpensive option to curb nicotine cravings in a variety of forms such as gums, toothpicks, mouth sprays and patches
- A doctor can prescribe different medications to help you quit using tobacco products by curbing cravings and lessening the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.
- Quit lines
Quitting tobacco products can be a challenge. Be sure to talk with your CDL Wellness Coach for support, resources, and ideas. We’re here to help!
For further research and education:
Emily Erickson, M.Ed.
CDL Wellness Coach