Quitting smoking: Fear of quitting is in any case unfounded

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, better known as smoker's lung, is on the rise worldwide. Although the disease is often played down as "smoker's cough", it has the fourth highest death rate worldwide.

Fear of withdrawal symptoms prevents many from quitting smoking
Many smokers would like to quit, but fear of withdrawal symptoms often prevents them from even trying. "Most of them cannot imagine that they will feel better afterwards, even if they have become really ill from smoking," reports Rudolf Schoberberger from the Institute for Social Medicine at MedUni Vienna in the run-up to World No Smoking Day next Sunday (May 31). But the fear of quitting is unfounded.

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According to the MedUni Vienna, many smokers feel the desire to overcome their addiction. Current surveys indicate that almost a quarter of all smokers would like to reduce tobacco consumption and a third would like to quit completely. 37 percent have already tried to quit. However, the fear that the withdrawal symptoms will be unbearable is a major barrier. "The stronger the nicotine addiction, the stronger the fear," explains Schoberberger. However, according to the results of a recent study published in the specialist magazine “Public Health”, this fear remains unfounded.

Many smokers would like to quit but fear persistent withdrawal symptoms. (Image: Bernd Kasper / pixelio.de)

After weaning, the ex-smokers feel much better
Many smokers who are heavily dependent on nicotine would like to quit, but fail because of the fear that the desire to smoke will remain unbearable afterwards. The study with participants in the three-week inpatient smoking therapy, which was scientifically monitored by the MedUni Vienna, now comes to the clear result that this fear of withdrawal symptoms when quitting is unfounded. The evaluation of the success rate of inpatient smoking therapy by the social medicine specialists at MedUni Vienna has shown that "those who have stopped smoking sustainably are much better off in the long term," reports Schoberberger. Of 270 respondents, more than 42 percent said one year after their inpatient smoking therapy, “that their health and general health are better and that they still do not smoke.” Almost a third of the participants had started smoking again and that Rest did not show up for the check-up appointments.

Improved breathing, better sleep, fewer cardiovascular problems
According to the researchers, quitting smoking had numerous positive effects on the well-being of former smokers. There was "a significant increase in satisfaction with sleep, but also with breathing and mobility," reports Schoberberger. The drug use in this group has also decreased significantly. In addition, before the therapy, 23.2 percent of the current non-smokers stated that they frequently suffer from cardiovascular problems and after only six months this value had decreased to 5.8 percent. Furthermore, 31.4 percent of the participants rated their general well-being as frequently impaired before starting therapy, while it was only 7.5 percent afterwards. Overall, the "tobacco abstinence led to a significant improvement in health and more life satisfaction," said Schoberberger. At the same time, “the desire to smoke is no longer an issue for most of those who have been weaned after six months.” The fear of quitting is therefore unfounded.

Quitting smoking is also worthwhile in old age
A study by the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, which was published in the specialist magazine “British Medical Journal”, recently examined the health benefits of quitting smoking. This came to the conclusion that weaning in old age still has clear positive effects. For example, people who smoked their last cigarette when they were over 60 had a significant reduction in the risk of a heart attack or stroke within a few years. Even in the first five years after the last cigarette, the risk was significantly lower. According to the head of the study, Professor Hermann Brenner, it is never too late to quit smoking, because even people in the highest age group would still benefit greatly from it in terms of health. (fp)

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