If you have a loved one who smokes, you probably hope that they’ll quit for their sake and yours. Becoming smoke free can reverse some of the health damage they’ve experienced while reducing your risk of second-hand smoke, and maybe even freshen up your home.
Your assistance can make a big difference in being successful. Many smokers try to quit about every 2 to 3 years, but seldom use the most effective methods available, according to the National Institutes of Health. The NIH recommends offering brief and tactful advice on a frequent basis, along with practical assistance to overcome the barriers to quitting.
If you’re eager to lend a hand, study this list of how to support someone who’s trying to quit smoking. You’ll be helping your family and friends say goodbye to tobacco.
Moral Support for Becoming Smoke Free:
Respect their choices. While your intentions are good, remember that it needs to be the smoker’s decision to quit. This is primarily about them and what they want to do.
Understand individual needs. Different things work for different smokers. Even if you quit yourself twenty years ago, your loved one needs to find their own path to becoming smoke free.
Listen closely. Paying attention to what your loved one has to say will show you what they need. How do they respond when you ask them to consider quitting? How do they want you to support them?
Be patient. Nicotine withdrawal can cause irritability and anxiety. Avoid taking it personally, and be thankful that it’s temporary.
Celebrate victories. Tell your loved ones that you recognize and appreciate their efforts. Buy your girlfriend flowers for the one month anniversary of her last cigarette. Offer a round of applause when a friend pops a mint after coffee instead of reaching for his usual cigarette.
Remain positive. Nagging and lecturing usually backfire. Focus on making progress, and creating solutions.
Practical Support for Becoming Smoke Free:
- Educate yourself. It can sometimes be motivating to hear about the benefits of quitting. Stock up on facts. For instance, the risk of lung cancer drops by 50% after 10 to 15 years of being smoke free.
- Provide distractions. Sometimes it’s helpful just to change the subject. Take your loved one’s mind off of smoking by watching a sunset or browsing through a book store.
Remove triggers. Putting ashtrays and lighters out of sight makes smoking less convenient. Work together on changing habits like taking a walk after dinner instead of smoking a cigarette.
Reduce stress. Postpone discussions about car repairs and in-laws until after your loved one feels more stable. Take over some of their chores or play gentle music.
Prepare for relapses. Most smokers require several attempts before quitting for good. Keep setbacks in perspective. Turn them into lessons on what to do next time.
Join them. If you smoke, consider quitting together. You’ll be strengthening your relationship as well as your lungs.
Seek additional help. There are many tools available today to help with giving up tobacco. Let your loved one know that it’s a sign of strength to ask for more help. Behavioral therapy and nicotine replacement devices may provide the final boost you need.
Quitting smoking can be tough, but it’s easier when a loved one wants to help, and knows how to do it. Offer caring and respectful advice backed up with practical assistance and encouragement to use proven treatments like counseling and medication.