Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.
Right now is a great time to quit smoking. Why? In as few as 20 minutes, you’ll start to feel the benefits.
Here we break down the changes that occur in your body within minutes, hours, days, and even years of you kicking the habit. The health benefits of quitting today may surprise you.
The effects of quitting start to set in immediately. Within 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate will begin to drop back toward a normal level.
After two hours without a cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure will be close to normal levels again. Your blood circulation will also start to improve. The tips of your fingers and toes may start to feel warm.
Nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually start about two hours after your last cigarette. Early withdrawal symptoms include:
- intense cravings
- anxiety, tension, or frustration
- drowsiness or trouble sleeping
- increased appetite
Carbon monoxide, which can be toxic to the body at high levels, is released from burning tobacco and inhaled as part of cigarette smoke. Carbon monoxide bonds very well to blood cells, so high levels of the gas can prevent the cells from bonding with oxygen. The lack of oxygen in the blood often causes serious heart conditions and other health problems.
In as few as 12 hours after quitting smoking, the carbon monoxide in your body decreases to lower levels. In turn, the amount of oxygen in your blood increases to normal levels.
he risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) for smokers is 70 percent higher than for nonsmokers. It is the most common form of heart disease and the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. However, just one full day after quitting smoking, your risk for CAD will already begin to reduce. Your risk of having a heart attack also starts to decline. While you’re not quite out of the woods yet, you’re on your way!
It may not be life-threatening, but an inability to smell or taste well is one of the more obvious consequences of smoking. Once you quit smoking for 48 hours, your nerve endings will start to regrow, and your ability to smell and taste will improve. You’ll soon start to better appreciate the finer things in life.
At this point, the nicotine will be completely out of your body. This means that the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal may peak around this time. You might experience some physical and emotional symptoms during withdrawal. These include:
This is when quitting smoking can become especially difficult. If you’re able to make it to this point, reward yourself so you feel motivated to continue. Use the money you would have spent on cigarettes to buy something nice for yourself.
Within three weeks, you’ll be able to exercise and perform physical activities without feeling winded. Stopping smoking for a couple of weeks gives your body time to regenerate and heal. Your blood circulation and heart function will improve significantly during this time. Your lungs may also begin to clear, allowing you to breathe more easily.
For most smokers, withdrawal symptoms start to subside about two weeks after quitting.
After one month without cigarettes, the cilia inside your lungs will begin to repair. The cilia are the tiny, hair-like structures that push mucus out of the lungs. Once the cilia are able to do their job efficiently, they can fight off infection and clear the lungs more easily. With properly functioning lungs, your coughing and shortness of breath will continue to decrease dramatically.
Your withdrawal symptoms will also go away completely within nine months after quitting. The length of time it takes varies depending on how long and how often you smoked before quitting he one-year mark is a big one. After a year without smoking, your risk for heart disease drops to half that of a smoker’s. This means that someone who smokes is more than twice as likely as you are to develop any type of heart disease.
A wide array of toxic substances is released in the burning of tobacco. Over time, these substances cause your blood vessels to narrow, which increases your risk of having a stroke. After five to 15 years of not smoking, your risk of having a stroke is the same as that of a nonsmoker.
Smokers are at higher risk than nonsmokers for a daunting list of cancers. These include:
- oral cancer
- throat cancer
- esophageal cancer
- lung cancer
- kidney cancer
- pancreatic cancer
Of these cancers, lung cancer is the most common form of cancer that affects smokers. Smoking is a main cause of lung cancer and accounts for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths worldwide.
It may take 10 years, but if you quit, eventually your risk of dying from lung cancer will drop to half that of a smoker’s. Ten years after quitting, your risk of getting other types of cancer also decreases.
From the book As Bill Sees it.
It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die. If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison. ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, P. 66
Written by Casa Palmera Staff
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse among the elderly is a hidden epidemic that is rarely recognized and is grossly under diagnosed. It is estimated that nearly half of all elderly individuals suffering from alcoholism remain undetected. This is misdiagnosis is caused by two main factors: First, the elderly are a segment of the population that is often ignored; second, doctors focus on secondary ailments such as dementia, depression and insomnia and fail to recognize that these ailments are caused by alcoholism.
Alcoholism Triggers Among the Elderly
Alcoholism among the elderly is classified into two main categories: early onset and late onset. Early onset individuals are those who started drinking at a younger age and have been drinking excessively for many years. These individuals usually sought treatment in the past but were unsuccessful at maintaining sobriety for a variety of reasons. Early onset elderly alcoholics usually have more health problems and psychological damage as a result of their years of alcohol abuse.
Late onset individuals are those who never had a problem with drinking but developed a problem with alcohol later in life in response to unwelcome lifestyle and personal changes. The problem with late onset alcoholism is that it usually goes unrecognized. Triggers of late onset alcoholism among the elderly are:
* Retirement, which results in a loss of structure, self-esteem and income
* Worrying about money
* Loneliness and boredom
* Devastating losses, such as the loss of spouses and friends
* Loss of independence
* Lifestyle changes, such as moving into a retirement home, losing driver’s license, etc.
* Declining health
* Chronic pain
* Sleep problems
Health Effects of Alcoholism and the Elderly
Alcoholism affects nearly every organ in the body, and alcohol has a particularly toxic effect on older people. Certain ailments that are common among older people can be worsened by alcohol, including depression and anxiety, cognitive impairment, cirrhosis and other liver diseases, gastrointestinal bleeding, hypertension, irregular heartbeats, osteoporosis, and impaired immunity.
Because a person’s body mass and body water volume reduces with age, even small doses of alcohol can have serious effects on an older person. Elderly individuals become intoxicated faster and stay intoxicated longer, and the health effects can be devastating.
Some common health effects that elderly individuals with alcoholism face are:
* Brain tissue becomes increasingly sensitive to alcohol with age. This sensitivity can cause confusion, memory loss and disorientation. It can also lead to a loss of motor skills that can result in serious or fatal falls.
* Older people often take multiple prescription medications that can have adverse effects when combined with alcohol. It is not uncommon for older people who abuse alcohol to also be abusing or misusing prescription medications.
* Alcohol abuse can exacerbate common health conditions among the elderly, including dementia, cancer, pneumonia, ulcers, muscle atrophy, anemia, and malnutrition.
Signs of Alcoholism and the Elderly
Older individuals will exhibit many of the same symptoms of alcoholism as younger problem drinkers do, but there are some warning signs that are unique to elderly individuals:
* Recurring accidents, injuries or falls
* Unexpected delirium during hospitalization (a sign of withdrawal)
* Withdrawal from family
* Not adhering to medical treatments and appointments
* Unstable or poorly controlled hypertension
* Gastrointestinal problems
Helping an Elderly Alcoholic
Alcoholism is a significant health problem in the elderly population. Unfortunately, elderly alcoholics often go unrecognized by outsiders and often don’t realize they have a problem with alcohol. If you know an older person is suffering from alcoholism or alcohol abuse, it’s important that you encourage treatment. Alcohol treatment is very effective among elderly individuals and can help them live a longer and healthier life. If you are the child of an elderly alcoholic, you might also consider receiving counseling in order to deal with your own issues revolving around your elderly parent’s addiction to alcohol. Call an alcohol treatment center today and get the help you both so desperately need.