Smoking Cessation Timeline: What to Expect Your First Week

If you’re a smoker and reading this article, it’s likely that you’ve wondered at times about how long it would actually take you to quit. It always seems so easy to go cold turkey…but not twenty minutes later, you could start feeling the urge. How long does it last? Can nicotine leave your system without leaving you high and drive forever? A smoking cessation timeline is a useful tool to encourage you to hang in there and keep going. See our smoking cessation timeline below, which of course varies from person to person (this is an estimate of averages for each stage). Disclaimer: this should not be taken as medical advice.

smoking cessation timeline

As a smoker, your risk for heart attack is 70% higher than it is for nonsmokers. The good news is that this risk, along with many others, begins decreasing as soon as the day after you quit smoking. Talk about instant effects! Here’s what you can expect in your smoking cessation timeline for the first week:

Within just 20 minutes, your blood pressure, heart rate and temperature of extremities becomes normal.

Within just 8 hours, the nicotine in your bloodstream reduces by 93.75%!

Within 12 hours, oxygen in the blood returns to normal. This is because carbon monoxide is released from the burning of tobacco in a cigarette. The carbon monoxide bonds to cells, which can prevent the cells from bonding to oxygen, which then causes serious heart problems. Quitting smoking can begin reversing this cycle within 12 hours!

In 48 hours, your damaged nerve endings begin healing and you start to have your sense of smell and taste back to normal.

In 72 hours, your body can be tested at 100% nicotine free! 90% of nicotine has travelled through your body through urine. Symptoms of withdrawal will have peaked in intensity, especially including restlessness. But your bronchial air tubes are starting to relax and breathing is now easier.

By the end of your first week (5-8 days), the average ex-smoker encounters three crave episodes each day. But don’t worry–most episodes will not last longer than 3 minutes. So keep your cell clock handy and time them, or even better, go turn on your favorite song!

For corporations seeking to support employee health, especially through smoking cessation programs, consider implementing a smoking cessation program with us at Wellworks For You. We’re very experienced with these steps and can give a full accountability program for businesses and individuals interested in successful smoking cessation campaigns. Call us today at  800.425.4657 for more information.

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