The First 72 hours
Are you all packed with map in hand? Do you understand your chemical dependency and how the only way to arrest it is 100%
obedience to the Law of Addiction? Have you developed a crave
coping plan and studied the common hazards up ahead? Have you pondered your use
rationalizations and how best to neutralize or destroy
If not, it's ok to read and learn as you go! Just remember one thing. If the going gets tough the solution is here at Freedom from Nicotine, not in a pack, tin, pouch, bag, box, tube or cartridge.
Ready for that first step? Still a bit apprehensive? It's totally understandable. We're still going to encourage you to try and relax, take some slow deep breaths and ponder this: when going cold turkey, without aid of any product or procedure, nearly everything felt during these first three days is evidence of beautiful healing. It is good not bad.
If going cold turkey, rest assured, you will not experience any quitting product side effects. Instead, you will witness the response of your body and mind as they navigate a temporary period of deep and profound healing. If a smoker, it may be your body's most intense healing ever. Picture 100 trillion cells, each receiving far more oxygen and far fewer toxins.
Psychologically, the first 24 hours are usually the biggest hurdle of all. It's here, during these early magic moments that we re-discover how to breathe, move about, eat and go to sleep without introducing nicotine back into our bloodstream.
The minutes will pass whether we sit on pins and needles while intensely focusing upon each passing second, or attempt to relax, make ourselves as comfortable as possible or keep ourselves occupied. A clock or watch will soon announce the passing of an hour. When it does, celebrate! You've taken that first giant step home. Congratulations!
A new supply of the super-toxin nicotine did not arrive. Its absence likely diminished destruction of surviving brain gray matter, allowed more unhealthy cells throughout the body to die natural deaths (apoptosis), diminished nicotine's influence in preventing bone regeneration, and permitted a decline in nicotine induced angiogenesis which causes plaque build-up within arteries to harden and accelerates tumor growth rates.
Most importantly, we arrested our dependency for an entire hour. We were the jailor and it was our prisoner. Forget about forever, forget about tomorrow, and forget about two hours from now. All we control are the next few minutes, minutes during which nicotine need not enter our bloodstream.
Contrary to marketing suggestions of those selling quitting chemicals that stimulate brain dopamine pathways, the only way to restore natural stimulation and sensitivities is to remove the chemicals. The speed and beauty of natural recovery can be seen within just one hour of remaining 100% nicotine-free, as the concentration of nicotine in our bloodstream declines by 25%.
"Half-life" is defined as "the time required for half the quantity of a drug or other substance deposited in a living organism to be metabolized or eliminated by normal biological processes." Most older cessation literature firmly fixes nicotine's elimination half-life at about two hours. But nicotine's half-life can vary based upon genetic, racial and hormonal factors. Let's ignore genetic differences, as we have no idea which genes we have or don't have.
As for racial variations, a 1998 study found an average nicotine half-life of 129 minutes in Caucasians and 134 minutes in African Americans. A 2002 study compared Chinese-American, Latino and Caucasian smokers. It found that Latino's had the shortest half-life (122 minutes), Chinese-Americans the longest (152 minutes), with Caucasians in the middle (134 minutes).
Nicotine's half-life was found to be shorter in women (118 minutes) than men (132 minutes), and even faster in women taking oral contraceptives (96 minutes). This was thought to be associated with estrogen. Its half-life has been found to be shorter during pregnancy (97 minutes) than after giving birth (111 minutes). Sadly, new born babies whose mothers smoked endure a nicotine withdrawal period five times longer than what their mother's would have been. Instead of a 2-hour elimination half-life it increases to 11.2 hours. If considering breast-feeding, nicotine's breast milk half-life averages 97 minutes.
Interestingly, a 1993 nicotine patch study found that when nicotine was administered directly into the bloodstream (intravenously) it had a 2 hour elimination half-life but when administered through the skin via nicotine patch (transdermally), once the patch was removed nicotine's elimination half-life was 2.8 hours. This finding is confirmed by a second patch study that found it to be a minimum of 3.3 hours.
The liver is the primary organ in eliminating nicotine from the bloodstream, and does so by breaking it down into other chemicals, its metabolites. Although studies are limited, it makes sense that any activity which increases blood flow though the liver (exercise or eating) should tend to accelerate nicotine depletion. One study reports that liver blood flow increases by 30% after meals, with a 40% increase in the rate that nicotine is cleared from arriving blood.
As suggested by the above half-life data, most of us had sufficient nicotine reserves to comfortably make it through 8 hours of sleep each night (4 half lives leaving us with 6.25% of our normal daily supply). But within 24 hours of ending all nicotine use our remaining reserves will become so small they may be difficult to detect (.02 or just 2/100ths of our normal daily level).
It is here that surgery is nearly complete and true healing begins in earnest. Within three days, with absolute certainty, we again inhabit a nicotine-free body and mind.
As for detection, we often get the question, how long will my insurance company or employer be able to detect nicotine in my system? As seen above, unless examining hair, which permanently records nicotine use, measuring nicotine in blood, urine and saliva is easy to beat and rather useless. But one of nicotine's longer-lasting metabolites (the chemicals in breaks down into) is cotinine, which has a generally recognized half-life of 17 hours.
Hopefully you're not trying to tick, fool or beat the system but sample the full flavor and wonderful aroma of freedom from nicotine.
Natural Fruit Juices
If our health permits, why not devote the money we would have spent purchasing nicotine, toward purchase and use of some form of natural fruit juice for the first 72 hours. Juice will not only help stabilize blood sugar levels, it will aid in accelerating removal of nicotine from our blood. Cranberry juice is excellent.
Hypoglycemia is a fancy word for what occurs when our "blood sugar (or blood glucose) concentrations fall below a level necessary to properly support the body's need for energy and stability throughout its cells."
Causes of low blood sugar in non-diabetics include skipping or delaying meals, eating too little, increased activity or exercise and excessive alcohol. Warning signs include an inability to concentrate, anxiety, hunger, confusion, weakness, drowsiness, sweating, trembling, warmness, nausea, dizziness, difficulty speaking and blurred vision.
We reviewed in Chapter 6 how each hit of nicotine served as our spoon pumping stored glucose into our bloodstream via our body's fight or flight pathways. It allowed us to skip breakfast and lunch without experiencing low blood sugar or hypoglycemic type symptoms. One of recovery's greatest challenges is learning to again properly feed and fuel our body. It's not a matter of consuming more calories but learning to spread them out more evenly over our entire day by eating smaller portions of healthy foods more frequently.
As an aid in blood sugar stabilization, we recommend sipping on natural fruit juices the first three days unless diabetic or inappropriate due to other health conditions (such as acid reflux). But don't over do it or go beyond three days, as juice tends to be rather fattening. Make sure it's 100% natural juice, no sugar added and avoid fruit drinks and aides.
A 2008 study examined the effects of drinking 480 milliliters or 16 ounces of unsweetened, normal-calorie cranberry juice (280 calories) upon blood sugar. Spectrometry analysis found that while low-calorie cranberry juice (38 calories) and water produced no significant changes in blood sugar levels, that normal-calorie cranberry juice resulted in significantly higher blood glucose concentrations within 30 minutes, which were no longer significant after 180 minutes.
As for fruit juices accelerating nicotine removal, the heart pumps about 20% of our blood through our kidneys. Our kidneys filter approximately 50 gallons or 189 liters of blood daily. This results in removal of about two quarts of waste products and extra water, which pass to the bladder as urine.
The word "renal" means "of or relating to the kidneys." "Renal clearance" is defined as the volume of blood from which a chemical such as nicotine is completely removed by the kidney in a given amount of time (usually a minute). A controlling factor in determining renal clearance rate is the pH level of urine produced by our kidneys. The more acidic our urine, the quicker nicotine is removed from the bloodstream.
A 2006 study found that drinking one liter of full-strength grapefruit juice (34 ounces or about 2 pints) will increase the rate by which the kidneys remove nicotine from blood plasma by 88%, as compared to when drinking 1 liter of water (231 milliliters of nicotine-free blood produced per minute using grapefruit juice vs. 123 milliliters of blood when drinking water). The study found that even if the grapefruit juice was half-strength that nicotine's renal clearance rate increased by 78% (219 milliliters per minute).
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. The further below 7 a substance is, the greater its acidity. The higher a substance is above 7, the greater its alkalinity. According to the FDA, the below fluids have the following pH ranges:
- · Cranberry juice 2.3 - 2.5
- · Grapefruit juice 2.9 - 3.3
- · Pineapple juice 3.3 - 3.6
- · Orange juice 3.3 - 4.2
- · Apple juice 3.4 - 4.0
- · Prune juice 3.9 - 4.0
- · Vegetable juice 3.9 - 4.3
- · Tomato juice 4.1 - 4.6
- · Milk 6.4 - 6.8
But do NOT overdo it. Remember, our primary objective is to keep blood sugar as stable as possible during the most challenging portion of recovery.
Caffeine is a mild central nervous system stimulant found in coffee beans, tea leafs and cocoa beans. The question during recovery is whether or not we can handle a doubling of our normal daily caffeine intake without experiencing "caffeine jitters" or other symptoms of over-stimulation? But why?
It's important because nicotine somehow doubles the rate by which the body depletes caffeine. What's that mean? It means that if we were drinking 2 cups of coffee while using nicotine, once nicotine use ends the stimulant effect of those two cups of coffee might now feel like 4 cups.
According to a 1997 study, "continuous caffeine consumption with smoking cessation has been associated with more than doubled caffeine plasma levels. Such concentrations may be sufficient to produce caffeine toxicity symptoms in smoking abstinence conditions." The study found "a significant linear increase in caffeine sputum levels across 3 weeks post cessation," and that "three weeks after cessation, concentrations reached 203% of baseline for the caffeine user."
An earlier study found that the clearance rate of caffeine from blood plasma averaged 114 milliliters per minute in nicotine smokers and 64 milliliters per minute in non-smokers.
Symptoms of caffeine intoxication have been seen with as little as 100 milligrams of caffeine daily, and may include restlessness, nervousness (anxiety), excitement, insomnia, a flushed face, increased urination and gastrointestinal complaints. Intoxication symptoms seen when more than 1 gram of caffeine is consumed per day include muscle twitching, rambling flow to thoughts and speech, irregular or rapid heartbeat, irritability and psychomotor agitation.
Many of us can handle a doubling of our daily caffeine intake without getting the "jitters." But how can we tell
whether the anxieties we feel are related to nicotine cessation or too much caffeine? It isn't easy. Experiment with an up to 50% reduction in daily
caffeine intake if at all concerned. Be careful not to reduce normal caffeine intake by more than 50% unless you want to add the symptoms of caffeine
withdrawal to those of nicotine withdrawal.
Caffeine withdrawal symptoms can include headache, fatigue, decreased energy, decreased alertness, drowsiness, decreased contentedness, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and a foggy mind. Symptoms typically begin 12 to 24 hours after caffeine use ends, reach peak intensity at 20 to 51 hours, and normally last 2 to 9 days.
The following is a sampling of the number of milligrams (mg) of caffeine "typical" in various substances:
- · 85mg coffee - 8 ounces drip brewed
- · 80mg "energy drinks"
- · 75mg coffee - 8 ounces percolated
- · 40mg espresso - 1 ounce servings
- · 40mg tea - 8 ounces brewed
- · 28mg tea - 8 ounces instant
- · 26mg baker's chocolate - 1 ounce
- · 25mg iced tea - 8 ounces
- · 24mg some soft drinks - 8 ounces
- · 20mg dark chocolate - semi sweet - 1 ounce
- · 6mg cola beverage - 8 ounces
- · 5mg chocolate mild beverage
- · 4mg chocolate flavored syrup
- · 3mg coffee - decaffeinated
The stimulant effects of a 24mg soft drink before bed or a 20mg chocolate bar could now feel like two sodas or two chocolate bars. Consider a
modest reduction of up to one-half if experiencing difficulty falling to sleep.
Look at it this way if we were a big caffeine user it's cheaper now. We get twice the stimulation for half the price.
Sensations Good, Not bad
I know this sounds strange, but within reason, everything we feel during our climb to withdrawal's peak is good not bad. What more honest
signs of healing could we have? What sense does it make to fear healing? Why fight coming home to a place where entire days pass without once wanting to
ingest nicotine into our bloodstream? Don't fight recovery, hug it. Hug it hard.
Exerpts from a free pdf book by Polito JR
"Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home"
Copyright 2008 John R. Polito
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