Know a smoker or two? Here’s how you can help them quit.
With approximately one-third of all people in the world smoking, odds are you know a handful of them. Maybe they have been smoking for years or only a few months, maybe they’re tried to quit on their own in the past, or maybe they’ve never attempted to end their addiction to tobacco.
Though most smokers are aware of the long list of health problems associated with smoking, (lung cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, gum disease, and infertility to name a few), the addiction to nicotine is still hard to break.
That’s where you come in. But how can you help someone you love kick butts?
There are many approaches to stopping smoking, and some are more successful than others. What makes smoking so tough to quit is that it becomes more than a physical habit to break. It is also a mental addiction. While your loved one’s body becomes physically dependent on the drug nicotine, his or her mind also becomes addicted to the pleasant feelings that result from nicotine. Therefore, overcoming smoking requires dealing with the physical, emotional, and social aspects of the addiction.
This emotional component of smoking is where it is helpful for a smoker to have a friend, family member, or support group by their side as they quit smoking. If you know people trying to quit, they need support more than you think. Smokers may think they can do it all on their own, but the success rate for quitting is much higher for those who have emotional support through the process.
Helping someone quit smoking may involve various ways of support. It may mean keeping them accountable by calling and checking in every few hours or days to see how they are doing. By doing this, smokers are constantly aware that they have to meet someone else’s expectations. So every time they fall off the wagon, they don’t just fail themselves. They’re failing you. While you shouldn’t use this power to beat down smokers when they slip up, it is vital for smokers to know someone else is concerned for their success.
At the same time you’re keeping tabs on their success, be ready to give them a pat on the back along the way. Words of encouragement let the quitters-in-progress know they are not alone, and that they’re making progress. To make it easier for loved ones to quit, make yourself available anytime day or night when they may need to talk through cravings or just need support.
Refocus and Reward
It may be helpful for those trying to quit smoking to have a friend distract them from addictive thoughts and feelings. Take them to a non-smoking environment and do something enjoyable to get their mind off what their body and mind says they need. Try to replace the pleasant feelings found from nicotine with healthy alternatives. This may mean another hangout location, going on a walk, or giving quitters something to keep in their mouths such as gum or carrot sticks.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of rewards. Follow a smoke-free week by paying for your loved one’s meal at the restaurant of his or her choice. Or after a month of no smoking, take a weekend trip to a fun destination. Start with small rewards and look to the future for long-term rewards. And you should also remind them of the many rewards their bodies reap along the way. After quitting smoking, they’ll begin to sleep sleep, have more energy and more money, smell better, and enjoy better overall health.
So if you have friends and family members who need to quit, don’t leave them to do it on their own. Be aware of their emotional needs through this process and stick by their side until you reach the fresh air!
When They’re Ready.
Regardless of your passion and compassion for loved ones, you cannot force them to quit. You can only help when they’re ready to make the change.