Quitting Smoking • How To Do It!

Many smokers are annoyed about their daily use of a cigarette. They know it’s bad for their health – and their wallet. On top of that, it makes you feel guilty because you could bother others with it. Smoking is now far less socially acceptable than it used to be. Nonetheless, nicotine addicts often stick to their habits out of fear of withdrawal symptoms or relapse.

Nicotine is addicting and just quitting is considered difficult. However, aspiring non-smokers are rewarded with a healthier and free life – completely without cigarettes aufhören zu rauchen.

Overview: How to quit smoking:

Advantages: That is why it is worth giving up smoking How quickly the body regenerates Withdrawal symptoms after giving up nicotine Weight gain when stopping nicotine How to stop nicotine: strategies and aids Nicotine replacement preparations: plasters, chewing gum, lozengesDrugs for smoking cessation Smoke-free with acupuncture and hypnosis Quitting gradually or rigorously? How diet and exercise can help with nicotine withdrawal. Smoking-free requires firm will – plus a 10-point program

That is why it pays to refrain from smoking

Anyone who quits smoking notices the positive physical changes brought about by giving up nicotine very quickly after the last cigarette. But quitting smoking is also worthwhile for the psyche, the external appearance and, last but not least, the wallet.

Physical fitness improves. The sensory cells also thank you for turning away from the cigarette: You smell and taste better.

Other side effects of smoking, such as coughing, increased sweating, yellowing of the teeth and fingers and unpleasant bad breath, disappear after a few days or weeks. The skin is better supplied with blood, appears fresher and younger. Hair, hands and clothes no longer smell of cold smoke.

Those who decide to quit smoking can expect life expectancy to rise again. 75 percent of those who quit at 45 have a normal life expectancy again. But even in later life you can benefit from quitting smoking by reducing the risk of illness.

This is how quickly the body regenerates after the last cigarette

after 20 minutes: pulse and blood pressure drop to normal values ​​after twelve hours: lowering of the carbon monoxide in the blood, the oxygen content rises to normal values. In this way, the organs, muscles, skin and mucous membranes are better supplied with oxygen again. after three days: breathing improves noticeably. After three months: The lung capacity increases by 30 percent, the circulation becomes more stable. after three to nine months: problems such as coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing improve, the lungs are cleaned, and infections occur less frequently. after one year: the risk of coronary artery disease is reduced by half. after two years: the risk of heart attack and stroke drops to that of non-smokers. after five years: the risk of tumors in the oral cavity, throat, esophagus and urinary bladder is reduced by half. after ten years: The risk of lung cancer is the same as that of non-smokers. after 15 years: The risk of cardiovascular diseases is the same as that of non-smokers.

The psyche also benefits. The “procurement pressure” – to ensure sufficient cigarette stocks at the weekend or after the shop has closed – is history and allows ex-smokers to live more relaxed.

As a non-smoker, you no longer have to worry about where you can smoke and whether you expose others to harmful passive smoke. The annoying thinking about whether smoking breaks should be planned for meetings or whether smoking is allowed with non-smoking friends is no longer necessary.

For some, the financial savings can also be an additional motivation to quit smoking. For example, anyone who smoked a box of 20 cigarettes a day can look forward to around 180 euros more per month and over 2,000 euros more per year after quitting smoking.

Pregnancy is a particularly strong motivation for quitting smoking. Because with tobacco consumption, an expectant mother would expose her unborn child to numerous toxins and health risks and is protected. Quitting smoking at the latest at the start of pregnancy gives the baby the best possible start in life.

Withdrawal symptoms after giving up nicotine

Just a few hours after the last cigarette, the body reacts with withdrawal symptoms. Many aspiring non-smokers are psychologically strongly attacked and nervous in the first few days and weeks. You feel tired, unstable and exhausted.

The most common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are:

– Urgent need to smoke a cigarette first thing in the morning – Increased irritability, impatience, restlessness and bad mood Difficulty concentrating Tiredness, fatigue, sleep disorders – Depression Headache Cravings

Many smokers fear the symptoms of withdrawal even though they are no more severe than the symptoms of a mild cold. These complaints should not deter you from quitting smoking, but rather understand them as a result of nicotine addiction, the physical and psychological dependence on nicotine. The neurotoxin influences various body functions, for example the metabolism and the reward center in the brain.

– You could stop smoking anytime – or not? The Fagerström test can be used to determine your dependence on nicotine.

for self-test

The psychological dependence shows up in situations in which one smoked in the past – after getting up and after eating, for reward and relaxation or in moments of stress. Because many of these situations have become a signal for smokers to light a cigarette.

How long do the withdrawal symptoms last?

After the last cigarette, it takes some time for all body functions to react normally again and for the metabolism to readjust. It also takes some time to reprogram yourself and learn new behavior patterns. How strong the withdrawal symptoms appear and how long they last varies from person to person. The first two or three days are often the worst for ex-smokers. However, the physical symptoms subside after a few days.

Weight gain after nicotine withdrawal

The change often results in a weight gain of around one to two kilograms in freshly baked non-smokers, rarely more. The reasons for extra pounds after quitting smoking are mainly related to the changed metabolism:

Cigarette consumption increases blood pressure and accelerates the heart rate and bowel movements. This increases energy consumption, which falls back to a normal level after quitting smoking.

The ingredients in tobacco mean that the body cells do not respond as quickly to insulin. The cells are therefore only stimulated to produce the body’s own fat to a limited extent.

The tobacco substances also have an anti-estrogenic effect. More water is therefore withdrawn from the tissue of a smoker.

However, all in all, there are only 300 more calories the average smoker burns every day. To make matters worse, however, the appetite and feeling of hunger are no longer inhibited by the nicotine, the improved sense of taste and smell also increase the appetite and ex-smokers sometimes compensate for the supposedly calming effect of nicotine by eating.

Quitting Smoking: Strategies and Tools

Getting rid of tobacco addiction is evidently not easy for many: the relapse rate is high. Many ex-smokers think longingly about the cigarette for years after they quit. No wonder, because many smokers associate nicotine intake with pleasant rituals and habits and thus find it difficult to get out of it.

Very few have made the way to life without glowing sticks without any help – and mostly not at the first attempt either. The most important prerequisite for success is a firm will to ban cigarettes from life. Various therapy and counseling options, a whole range of smoking cessation agents and alternative nicotine withdrawal methods are available to support them.

Behavior therapy

Research shows that special behavioral therapies in individual counseling sessions, smoking cessation groups, non-smoking seminars and online courses have the highest success rates. The most important goal is to encourage the person affected in their motivation to quit, to name the benefits, to respond to any fears such as weight gain and to support them in changing their behavior. In these programs, the still-smoker first learns to be aware of his smoking behavior and to recognize what function the cigarette has taken on in life. At the same time, he is encouraged to learn new behavior patterns for certain situations.

The costs for the six- to eight-week courses are partially or completely reimbursed by the health insurances, some also offer their members their own seminars.

Nicotine replacement with plaster, chewing gum, lozenge

Nicotine replacement products are designed to alleviate the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine patches, chewing gum or tablets continue to supply the body with nicotine for the first eight to twelve weeks after quitting smoking.

Nicotine patches are available in different strengths, which are selected depending on the amount of daily cigarette consumption and applied once a day. The nicotine is released continuously through the skin. Nicotine chewing gums, sweets and tablets ensure a burst of nicotine supply.

With nicotine replacement drug withdrawal, smokers should learn to cope with nicotine very gradually. This means that they do not experience the withdrawal symptoms as pronounced in the first few days. Nicotine replacement preparations are not reimbursed by health insurance companies. They are especially recommended in combination with behavior therapy approaches in which smokers learn new behavior patterns.

Smoking cessation drugs

There are also prescription drugs for smoking cessation. The active ingredient bupropion is one of the antidepressants, while varenicline works directly on the nicotine receptors in the brain. With both active ingredients, the risk of sometimes dangerous side effects is high. Doctors tend to be reluctant to prescribe the drugs and carefully examine which smokers they are suitable for.


Acupuncture is another method that is used for smoking cessation and can also be effective. The prerequisite, however, is that the smoker is motivated and wants to quit on his own initiative.

Often one session is enough to suppress the craving for a cigarette; acupuncture is usually done up to three times. An experienced doctor places acupuncture needles on the corresponding addiction points in the ear. This suppresses the desire for nicotine and reduces withdrawal symptoms such as irritability or aggressiveness.

If you want to become a non-smoker with acupuncture, you also have to bear the costs yourself. You pay between 50 and 80 euros per session, or 150 to 240 euros for three treatments. At first glance, that might seem like a lot. But the investment quickly pays for itself.


The hypnotist creates a connection to the subconscious, in which habits – including smoking – are anchored. The individual session costs around 250 euros. The duration of the treatment depends on its success.

Especially with hypnosis, the seriousness of the provider should be taken into account. You can’t go wrong by contacting a hypnotherapist who is a member of a professional association.

Both hypnosis and acupuncture as a way to stop smoking are controversial among some experts, also because no alternative behavioral patterns are being developed. It is therefore recommended to also take part in behavioral therapy in order to better recognize risk situations and key stimuli in everyday life and to be able to reduce the risk of relapse.

Stop gradually or overnight?

Most experts recommend a rigorous smoking cessation from one day to the next. Because the gradual cessation of smoking succeeds less often and is much more exhausting: Due to the tobacco dependence, the body is more conditioned to get more and more of the addictive substance nicotine instead of less. The already quite mild physical withdrawal symptoms occur when you gradually quit smoking, but the psychological stress and the risk of falling back into old behavioral patterns are even greater.

How proper diet and exercise help with nicotine withdrawal

A healthy diet and regular exercise can support the path to a smoke-free life and help the smoker through the first difficult weeks.

Above all, you should pay attention to your diet after you quit smoking: Because nicotine is no longer used as an appetite suppressant, you quickly succumb to the temptation to eat more and more often or to occupy yourself with nibbles between your fingers.

If you want to avoid extra pounds, you do not have to do without this type of replacement satisfaction. However, it is worthwhile to switch to low-calorie alternatives such as fruit, vegetables and crispbread. High-calorie “seducers” such as biscuits, chocolate, flips, chips and peanuts should be banned from sight to be on the safe side or, best of all, not allowed into the house at all. Salads before the main meal and frequent drinking also reduce the feeling of hunger. High-calorie beverages such as cola, lemonade or milkshakes should be avoided.

Dr. Heart / team of experts

Beware of alcohol: On the one hand, alcoholic beverages have a relatively high number of calories. On the other hand, beer and wine – possibly in good company – are often the reason that you become weak-willed and then light a cigarette again.

How exercise helps smokers quit

Exercise has a lot of advantages for ex-smokers:

Ex-smokers are in a stressful phase; Movement relaxes.

Movement distracts you from thinking about eating and smoking.

The increased oxygen supply helps the lungs to regenerate.

Regular endurance exercise combined with a low-fat diet can alleviate the blood vessel damage caused by smoking and slow down progression.

Movement is also good for the psyche: You feel more comfortable and are better able to cope with stress.

For ex-smokers who are fighting against weight gain and want to do something for their cardiovascular system at the same time, endurance sports such as running, cross-country skiing, swimming, cycling, mountain hiking or properly conducted aerobic gymnastics are ideal. But be careful: Do not start with the full program right at the beginning. It is better to start slowly and gradually increase the program.

Becoming smoke-free requires a firm will

Without the firm decision “I will quit smoking” it is as good as impossible to become permanently smoke-free. If things get really serious, you should set a day to quit smoking. The best time is a time in everyday life: It shouldn’t be a pronounced stress phase, but neither should it be during the holiday. Both are associated with the smoking ritual. It can make sense to look for an ally who supports the determined smoker in his endeavors.