Guinevere Gets Sober

Recovery news, reviews and stories, by Jennifer Matesa.

How smoking reduces your lifespan—an interactive tool

Found this tool that calculates how much smoking will reduce your lifespan.

Smoking man

A smoker getting his dose.

I love interactive tools. They’re like toys. I tested it out on my mother’s smoking history and it was accurate… She lost about 20 years, and that’s about right.

See below for a set of facts about the benefits that immediately start accruing when you stop smoking.

For all the drugs I’ve bought legally over counters and ingested, I’m glad I’ve somehow escaped nicotine. The consequences are just so damaging.

An interesting read for those who want to quit: Glassbottom’s quit-smoking journal on Opiate Detox Recovery, one of my favorite recovery sites. On the first page of this journal the author, Glassbottom, says of a previous time having quit,

For me, quitting cigs changed my entire perception of time. This was frankly the most enjoyable byproduct of quitting. I hadn’t realized that every activity, every commitment, every damn thing that I did during my day was some how couched in the thought of “when is my next cigarette” If I was writing a paper for school, “How many pages till I go smoke a cigarette.” If I was watching a movie that I enjoyed, “When will this movie be over so I can go smoke a cigarette.” When it was time to eat, “I can’t wait till I’m done so I can smoke a cigarette.” … When we smoke a pack a day, that’s 20 cigarettes. Essentially we don’t go for much longer than a half an hour without a smoke. If two packs, then 15 minutes. Now consider how much of that half hour/fifteen minutes of non smoking time that the thought of the next cigarette crosses our minds. Yep, it’s an obsession.

This gave me insight into my mother’s addiction. Glassbottom wrote that the pride of quitting smoking was “just as great as dope in many ways,” though he said that, for him, opioids were “way harder to deal with” than nicotine. But knowing my mother, I don’t think it was that way for her, and I think it may not be for some others. Nicotine can truly be a “drug of choice”—or, as some on ODR might say, a “drug of no-choice.”

What happens when you quit smoking

(Source: Cleveland Clinic)

After 20 minutes

You stop polluting the air
Your blood pressure and pulse decrease
The temperature of your hands and feet increases

After 8 hours
The carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal
Oxygen levels in your blood increase

After 24 hours
Your risk of heart attack decreases

After 48 hours
Nerve endings adjust to the absence of nicotine
Your ability to taste and smell begins to return

After 2 weeks to 3 months
Your circulation improves
Your exercise tolerance improves

After 1 to 9 months
Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease
Your overall energy level increases

After 1 year
Your risk of heart disease decreases to half that of a current smoker

After 5 to 15 years
Your risk of stroke is reduced to that of people who have never smoked

After 10 years
Your risk of dying from lung cancer drops to almost the same rate as a lifelong NON-smoker.
You decrease the incidence of other cancers – of the mouth, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas

After 15 years
Your risk of heart disease is reduced to that of people who have never smoked


  1. an interesting read for sure! I stopped smoking, using the Steps of AA and LOTS of prayer. When we found out we were pregnant with Ian, I HAD to stop and thanks God and by His will I did. That was 9 and a half years ago. My wife finally stopped maybe 4 yrs ago?

    I hope that stuff from the Cleveland Clinic is true!

  2. guinevere

    August 31, 2010 at 10:57 am

    It’s great that you were able to stay quit after the birth of your son. … I was off drugs (except for the occasional codeine for migraine) while I was pregnant, but I would say the fear was present with me always despite prayer. I had no direction about how to deal with the fear and resentment.

    Simple, but not easy, huh?

    Cleveland Clinic info is considered reliable… 🙂

  3. I am so glad to have never started the habit. Never liked how it smelled or saw the point.

  4. I’m on Day8 of my non smoking journey and this is the first day I have felt a smidgen of sanity. I may be being generous by stating a smidgen. lol

    The quote you included on the obsession is so true. It amazes me how much of my day was spent smoking and how my routine was centered around it.

    I am a hard core alcoholic whom has achieved 6 years sobriety in AA. Quitting alcohol ( whom I called my best friend) was absolutely nothing like quitting nicotine.


  5. guinevere

    September 3, 2010 at 8:03 am

    @Queen… you can totally do this. Please see Glass’s journal and others on ODR (I can email you links) if you want to see people going through difficult early days quitting smoking. I have another friend who quit a year or so ago (after quitting heroin, meth, Suboxone, etc.) and is still free today… Please feel free to post here… I am willing to go to any lengths to support anyone in her attempt to quit smoking. It’s high on my agenda and I want to help. much respect, —G

  6. Thanks for the support G. I’m checking out ODR now.

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