Here’s stating ‘Obvious Fact No. 1’ – Smoking kills. We’ve all sat through those ads in the theatre which play before the movie does- the ones showing graphic images of people affected by smoking or information on anti-smoking campaigns. But despite the deadly effects that smoking has on their bodies, there are people who find it really hard to kick the habit. However, there are plenty of people who’ve embraced that tough decision and have overcome their addiction – your loved one just needs your undying support to get through the process!
Why is Quitting Smoking So Difficult?
As someone who’s trying to help their friend or relative or partner quit smoking, there are a few things you should know so that you can extend support the right way. If you thought the reasons were only physical, well, read on!
- Once a smoker’s body gets used to the presence of nicotine (the chemical that gets them addicted to smoking in the first place), the body goes through withdrawal symptoms when it doesn’t get nicotine. Simply put, smoking isn’t just a bad habit – it’s an addiction, which is why quitting becomes so difficult.
- Recent research has shown that relapses occur due to emotional triggers as well. This means that a person trying to quit smoking picks up the habit again because they’re trying to retain or recover their identity – the identity and social groups they’d built as a smoker. If the person had been a smoker for a really long time, it would have become a part of their identity, giving up on which feels like a loss, which is why they tend to light that cigarette again.
10 Ways to Help Your Loved One Quit Smoking
It’s important for you to understand that in most cases, a smoker doesn’t quit cold turkey, i.e. it’s not as simple as making a decision today and never looking in the direction of a cigarette again. So, here are a few practical ways you can help your quitter!
1) Let Your Loved One Know That You’re There for Them
As discussed earlier, smokers go through physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms when they finally quit. During such trying times, lend them a sympathetic ear and really listen to what they’re going through. Unless you’re an ex-smoker who has gone through the same experience as them, don’t tell them things like ‘I know what you feel’, because it may sound like you’re trivialising their problems. Ask them how they’re feeling so that you can take necessary action to help them out, and try to see things from their perspective.
2) Serve As a Distraction
Ask your loved one for all the times during the day that they’re likely to smoke, and make sure they have different distractions to keep them away from cigarettes at those times. If it’s after a meal, offer to take a walk with them, or provide them with a tall glass of water and a few healthy snacks. Another measure that can help them is to have them focus on a task (nothing anxiety-inducing!), and keep their hands and mind busy. Read up on different things that can keep their mind away from smoking and be prepared with such measures.
3) Be Prepared With Nicotine Replacement Aids
Sometimes, simple measures like those mentioned above may not provide desired results. Stock up on nicotine patches or gum, lozenges, a bottle of nasal spray – whichever seems to work out best for your quitter. Of course these are going to be a little expensive, but surely it’s worth the benefits your loved one will receive from quitting smoking, right?
4) Be Patient Through Their Withdrawal Symptoms
Quitting smoking is going to make your loved one anxious, irritable, be prone to headaches, and basically just not in the best of their physical or mental health. These can last for a couple of days to a few weeks, depending on the person. Be calm and patient, and show them kindness. Don’t take their reactions personally; understand that they’re going through a tough time. But do talk to them gently and acknowledge their actions as reactions to quitting; it will help them understand why they’re acting the way are, too!
5) Celebrate Their Successes
The success need not be as big as ‘smoke-free for a year’! During the difficult journey of quitting, even the simple act of refusing a cigarette should be considered a major achievement. Discuss with your loved one about rewards that would keep them going strong or come up with a few you know they’d love – a movie ticket, a dinner date, or even a simple card of encouragement. The idea is not just to motivate them to stick to their resolve, but also to show them that you’re just as invested in their journey as they are!
6) Forgive Their Relapses
Relapses shouldn’t be considered as failures; most smokers relapse at least 5 to 10 times before they’re able to completely give up smoking. However, nagging about it or voicing your disappointment is only going to make them feel guilty or angry. Instead, remind them of how far they’ve come and how you know they’ll be able to quit one day for sure. Also, try and understand what caused them to slip up. If the trigger is identified, you can come up with a plan to help them deviate from smoking the next time a similar situation crops up.
7) Avoid Smoking Zones
Considering that a lot of public places are now on the way to becoming no-smoking zones, this could an easy step to follow. Avoid restaurants or smoking rooms at the workplace (or in other public locations) that can act as a trigger. It would be impossible to bypass a stray smoker every now and then, but as long as it’s not for a prolonged period of time, your loved one should be fine! Also get rid of remaining cigarettes and ashtrays, and ensure that their possessions (clothes, articles at home, etc.) are cleaned so that they don’t smell of smoke anymore.
8) Know When to Seek Outside Help
Sometimes, despite everything you try, it may be impossible for your loved one to completely kick the habit. They may also suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms. At such a point, professional help should be sought, as healthcare providers will be better qualified to help your loved one.
9) Don’t be a Nag!
Preaching, lecturing, repeating negative statements – none of these are going to serve as positive motivation for your quitter to give up smoking. If anything, it could irritate them further and make them feel like their efforts are pointless. Hug them tight, comfort them when they’re down, and remind them what they’re capable of.
10) Ensure Them That You’re Very Much a Part of Their Journey
It’s easy to jump on board when your loved one asks for your help in quitting smoking. What’s difficult is having the patience to deal with their mood swings, their slip-ups, their recurring feelings of wanting to give up and pick up a cigarette again! The journey is not going to be short and sweet; it’s going to be a bumpy road with plenty of challenges ahead. Therefore, prepare yourself for what’s coming up, but never leave their side – if you’re in this together, your quitter is going definitely going to make progress!
If someone you love has made a resolution of quitting smoking this year, accept that it’s a big deal for them to have done that. Now that you’re armed with this information, take a deep breath – 2019 is the year to help your loved one get back on track with their health!