17 December 2005

Quit smoking and coffee / caffeine

Quit smoking and coffee / caffeineMany smokers are used to smoking when drinking coffee during or after meals, during coffee breaks, in the office, or in restaurants. Many smokers can attest to the fact that they often crave nicotine and caffeine together or that they crave one when they engage in the other. Caffeine is a stimulant. Most people know this, but here is a fact that is less widely known: caffeine in the body of a smoker is metabolized (digested) at about twice the rate as that of a nonsmoker. The result is a high tolerance to caffeine. When you quit smoking, the amount of coffee or colas you are used to drinking might now make you very jittery and anxious. Please, expect that your morning coffee will not taste the same without a cigarette, so you will feel a strong urge to reach for a cigarette while drinking coffee.

However, you do not have to give up coffee or tea to quit smoking. If you used to smoke while drinking coffee, tell people you have quit, so they will not offer you a cigarette. Between sips of coffee, take deep breaths to inhale the aroma. Breath deeply and slowly, while you count to five, breathes out slowly, counting to five again. Try switching to decaffeinated coffee for a while, particularly if quitting has made you irritable or nervous. Try to drink tea instead of coffee; tea may not trigger the desire for a cigarette. Cut back on, or cut out caffeine completely for a while, especially if you are having trouble sleeping through the night. Chances are good that once you are through the withdrawal process, you will be able to drink coffee again, though maybe not as much as you used to.

Nicotine and alcohol cause essentially the same effect in the body. Engaging in one behavior often leads to the other. Even small amounts of alcohol boost the pleasurable effects of nicotine, inducing people to smoke more when drinking alcoholic beverages. A relatively low dose of alcohol - below that required to induce any measurable euphoria - is enough to increase enjoyment of nicotine significantly, so, it makes sense that so many people who have quit smoking relapse when they drink.

That morning cigarette and cup of coffee have a basis in medical fact, as it turns out. Having caffeine will lead the body to want nicotine as well because of the similar effect the drugs have on the body. One good way to stop smoking, then, is to limit the amount of caffeine you drink, which, like the reduction of alcohol, will make you healthier in other ways as well.

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