When a close friend or family member makes the decision to quit smoking, it is important that he or she has full and complete support of loved ones. Having the support of friends and family will help improve the chances the person who is quitting smoking has to actually quit. There are many ways to help someone quit smoking and get them on the path to a healthier lifestyle.
Support the Quitter *
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, smoking is more than just a bad habit. It is a serious and complicated addiction that can make quitting one of the biggest challenges a person can face. Because it is so difficult to quit, those who want to help their loved one stop smoking will first need to understand just how difficult it can be.
Once you understand how hard it is going to be, the next thing to understand is how strong the relationship the two of you have. This means realizing what you can and cannot say or do. This is so you do not ruin the relationship you already have, which can easily happen when trying to help someone quit smoking.
When helping someone quit smoking it is important to start with a simple conversation. This means sitting down and talking about how you can help them and if they want to. Before continuing any further, it is important to get a commitment from the smoker that he or she is ready and dedicated to quitting.
During this conversation it is important to ask questions and listen to the answers. These questions will help you get a better understanding of how you can help and what the smokers expects from his or her support group. Some questions to ask include:
- What made you start smoking?
- What makes you crave a cigarette?
- How do you handle stress?
- How stressed are you lately?
- What can I do to help make quitting easier for you?
All of these steps are just the beginning in the supporting of the smoker’s decision to quit. While talking with the smoker, always remember to be supportive and never be condescending when speaking to them. Being patient and positive are two ways to show the most support when helping someone quit smoking.
Offer Distractions *
For most smokers, they tend to light up a cigarette when they are bored and feel like they have nothing to do. Offering a distraction will take their mind off of the need to have a cigarette. Some distractions may include:
- Going for a walk
- Playing a game
- Going to the movies
- Going out to eat
- Taking a class, like painting, cooking or photography
- Going to a concert
- Attending a sporting event, such as football, basketball or baseball
Do’s and Don’ts *
When trying to figure out how to help someone quit smoking it is important to make note of what you should do and what you should not do. The American Cancer Society (ACS) put out a list of dos and don’ts when helping a friend or family member quit smoking. Here are some of those dos:
- Respect the quitter’s decision to change their lifestyle
- Ask if they want your help and how they want it
- Offer encouraging words of support
- Help them get the tools they need, such as candy, straws and fresh veggies
- Spend time doing things to help keep their mind busy
- Make their environment smoke-free
- Remove all lighters, ash trays and signs of smoking from the home
- Clean the home and clothes to remove smoke smell
- Celebrate the steps of success along the way
- Remind them how good they are doing
- Remind them of the reasons why they wanted to quit in the first place
- Encourage them to keep trying
- Smoke away from the person wanting to quit
- If you smoke, join in on the effort to quit
Here are some of the don’ts that were listed by the ACS:
- Never doubt the smoker’s ability to quit
- Do not judge, nag, tease or scold the person
- Do not take their grumpiness personally
- Do not assume they will go back to smoking
- Do not blame them for failing
- Never offer them a cigarette or other form of tobacco
When learning how to help someone quit smoking it is important to understand what they will be going through. This includes being able to recognize the different symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Withdrawal may get harder to handle before it gets easier, which could leave your friend feeling upset, irritable and depressed. Some symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling restless
- Inability to concentrate
Will It Work? *
It is common for those wanting to learn how to help someone quit smoking to ask “Can I really help them quit?” This question comes up many times, mostly because it is believed that quitting smoking is a personal choice and takes a lot of willpower. Even though quitting smoking is mostly in the hands of the smoker, according to Brown University, it is possible to help someone after they have made the decision to quit. However, if the decision to quit has not been made, it may be difficult to offer help to someone who is not ready or willing to accept it.
Time Frame *
Of course it is going to be tough in the beginning, but over time, the symptoms of withdrawal will improve. It is important to be the most supportive for the first week to ten days. This is when it is going be the hardest. During these initial days of quitting smoking, individuals are more likely to go back to smoking when they realize how tough quitting is going to be. Keep encouraging your friend and remind them of the reason why they decided they wanted to try and quit.
Slip Ups *
For some smokers it is not possible to up and quit. According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, several individuals experience what is referred to as a slip up. This means that they gave in to their cravings and had a cigarette. Do not be too harsh on your friend and just remind them that slip ups are normal and it is important to focus on what their lifestyle will be like after they quit. Overtime, these slip ups will occur less and less.
Here are some tips to help if the smoker you are helping quit relapses, or has a slip up:
- Do not give up on them
- Keep encouraging them
- Help them to learn from the slip up
- Explain that this happens and is normal
Keep It Up *
Do not give up on the person wanting to quit smoking. Make sure to continue urging them to stop smoking and remind them of the end goal. It may take a while to get them to finally be a non-smoker, but the end result is the goal. Both of you need to stay focused on that and not give up.
Making the decision to quit smoking may be a difficult one and it has to be made by the individual. Forcing someone to quit or try to quit smoking will probably not work. This is mostly because you cannot force someone to do something they are not ready for. If you have a friend who wants to quit, offer your support and be there when they need help. Otherwise, it might be best to sit back and wait until they are ready to make the steps toward quitting on their own.