Ready to Stop Smoking? The Pros and Cons of Quitting Cold Turkey

January 01, 2014
by Michael Barber
Ready to Stop Smoking? The Pros and Cons of Quitting Cold Turkey

If one of your New Year's resolutions this year is to quit smoking -- good for you! But, how should you quit? Should you go it cold turkey or utilize smoking cessation products? Here are the advantages and disadvantages of stopping cold turkey along with tips to help you kick the nicotine habit.

Related: 7 Reasons to Help Persuade your Loved Ones to Quit Smoking [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Pros of Cold Turkey Quitting

Research has shown those who quit cold turkey may have a harder time or be unsuccessful but there are some advantages including:

  • You won’t have to spend money on smoking cessation products, which can be expensive.
  • Nicotine patches and gum may seem attractive, but you are still introducing nicotine into your body.
  • You immediately reap the reward of cleaner breath and teeth and are able to gain a stronger sense of smell. Your clothing and locations where you smoke will also smell cleaner.
  • There are many support groups including where members support each other during craving times.
  • Withdrawal symptoms -- if you go cold turkey -- will only last approximately three months.
  • Food will taste better once your body is nicotine free.

The Cons of Quitting Cold Turkey

Along with the advantage of simply quitting nicotine altogether, there are some disadvantages including:

  • Withdrawal symptoms that can include irritability, depression and insomnia. Others may experience physical symptoms such as tremors, headaches and weight gain due to increased appetite.
  • The use of smoking cessation aids has a variety of side effects. Those in pill form are in antidepressant category and many experience unusual dreams, mood changes and even suicidal thoughts. Doctors and pharmacists recommend seeking out an urgent care center if you experience symptoms from these medications.
  • Nicotine patches and gum -- even electronic cigarettes with nicotine are still introducing the substance into your body so you aren’t really nicotine free.
  • People who use stop smoking aids have a higher chance of quitting permanently than those choosing the cold turkey route.

Related: Hey Sleepyhead, How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Really Need?

Tips for Quitting Successfully

A nicotine habit is different for everyone. Some of the factors making it harder to quit include:

  • How much one smokes
  • Their routines of smoking -- in the car, after meals, talking on the phone, etc.
  • Mind over matter or willpower is simply easier for some than others.

There are tips to help you quit for good, however, and stop a bad habit that leads to emphysema, cancer and a plethora of other medical conditions. Try some of these:

  • Don’t go it alone, quit with a buddy.
  • Remember that you are not a bad person just because you are addicted to nicotine.
  • Take advantage of support groups online or off.
  • If using stop smoking aids, read all the instructions and follow them to the letter, including starting a daily journal.
  • Change your daily routines.
  • Avoid those who do smoke.
  • Don’t take any nicotine products to places you normally smoke -- work, car, bars or restaurants, etc.
  • Seek the advice of retail clinics where doctors can help you develop a sound cessation plan.
  • Mark your progress on a calendar and reward yourself with something at the end of each week.
  • Eat hard candy or mints and skip food indulgences to stop cravings -- this will help with weight gain.
  • Ask your family for support and remember why they want you to quit smoking -- they want you to be around a long time!

Related: The Real Cost of Generics: The Pros and Cons of Generic Drugs

Along with the pros and cons of quitting cold turkey, it’s still possible to quit and while it’s not easy for many, if you stick with a dedicated plan, smoking aid or support program, you will find you are smoke-free in a short period of time.