Quitting smoking can be a very challenging experience, and one of the most difficult things a smoker may ever face. The process can, however, be made that much easier when a smoker has the support and compassion of those around them. Added motivation, empathy, and supportive conversation can go a long way towards helping a smoker kick what can be a powerful and complex addiction.
So, if someone close to you is trying to quit smoking, consider some of the suggestions below on how you can help them achieve their personal quit goals.
A good place to begin is to respond positively when a smoker tells you that they want to stop. Helpful responses could include telling them you’re proud, that you believe in them, and most importantly, that you’ll be there for them.
It’s important that this type of support isn’t limited to your first conversation. Instead, try to keep it up throughout your friend or loved-one’s quit journey. By asking non-judgmental questions, you’ll have an understanding of what they’re going through, and what you can do to help. It’s also important to regularly check-in and ask the quitter how they’re doing – not just whether they’ve managed to stay on track.
Finally, although it might be tempting, offering lectures and judgmental comments won’t help. Plus, if a quitter suspects that you’re being judgmental, they might not come to you for support when they really need it.
Providing a quitter with distractions can be really helpful when they’re dealing with cravings or other withdrawal symptoms. These could range from offering chewing gum or an orange, through to taking them to a sports game or other non-smoking events.
Distractions don’t, however, always need to be physical. Just being there for a conversation, either in person or on the phone, can make a huge difference. It’s also worth keeping in mind that cravings typically only last a few minutes.
It’s normal for quitters to experience slips when quitting smoking – and most people try several times before they quit for good.
This is why it’s important to be patient and encouraging with your partner or loved-one when they’re attempting to stop. If they do slip, remind them that it’s a learning experience, and that most quitters may need several attempts before stopping for good.
In much the same vein, you should celebrate each success, no matter how big or small. Just going a matter of hours without a cigarette can be an achievement deserving of recognition. The key is to stay upbeat, particularly in the moments when the quitter is experiencing frustration and exhaustion.