Seeing someone you love smoking their life away can be tough to watch. However, a smoker needs to decide to stop smoking because they understand how it will be of benefit to them, not because they are being pushed by someone else to stop. Your loved one may avoid cigarettes for your sake; however, for them to quit smoking permanently, they should do it for themselves.
With that being said, your help can go a long way. This is because you can influence their behavior to help them make the decision to quit. You can also offer your support and encouragement during the difficult period immediately after they have quit smoking.
Understand That It Is Not Easy
A key reason why many people are so poor at helping their loved ones stop smoking is that they simply dismiss it as a bad habit that is easy to kick instead of a complicated addiction. It is important to understand that quitting smoking is one of the toughest challenges any individual could face.
When a person decides to stop smoking, it does not mean that all their thoughts of lighting up will all disappear immediately. It can take considerable time for the craving to fade away, and most people will have to try more than once before they can quit successfully. Very few people can quit cold turkey by themselves. They need all the support they can get from friends and family.
Begin the Conversation
Quitting is a difficult topic to talk about. For this reason, if you want to influence a loved one to quit, you have to find an opening that will allow you to raise the subject. This mainly involves listening to them keenly and identifying something they might say which you can use to start the conversation about quitting cigarettes.
Some examples of openings are:
- “I have been thinking about stopping smoking.”
- “My doctor advised me to stop smoking.”
- “I am pregnant.” Or “My wife is pregnant.”
- “My kids asked me about my cigarettes, and I think I should quit for them.”
Always be ready to take advantage of such openings. Let them know you are ready to help and that you think they are making a great choice to quit.
Everyone experiences smoking and quitting cigarettes in a unique way. You should never assume that you know what the experience is like for them, and do not presume to know all that they need to do to quit successfully. Ask!
Posing questions that cannot simply be dismissed with a one-word answer will give you a better understanding of what they are going through. Some examples of the questions you could ask include:
- “How did you start smoking?”
- “What brings on your cravings for a smoke?”
- “Why did you decide to quit smoking?”
- “Is there anything that has been stressing you out recently?”
- “Is there something I could do to help?”
Provide Distractions to Keep Their Mind off Smoking
For many smokers, having a cigarette becomes a regular part of their lives. This means that, throughout the day, someone trying to quit will encounter people, things and places that could trigger a craving. One of the best things to do to help your loved one quit cigarettes is to provide distractions. Some of the things you could suggest for them to do include:
- Going to the movies
- Taking a walk
- Have a game night with a few close friends
- Cook dinner
- Go out to eat
- Go to the gym
- Go to a football, basketball or baseball game
Be Patient, Supportive and Positive
It can be very frustrating and exhausting to support a loved one who is trying to stop smoking. However, this is nothing compared to what the smoker is facing. It is important to their success for you to stay upbeat and never give up on them. They need your support.
Smoking cessation has serious and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that will often leave the smoker irritable and suffering from sudden mood swings. In spite of this, remember that while the withdrawal symptoms are temporary, your loved one will benefit from quitting smoking for the rest of their life. Do not let them lose their confidence that they can quit.
Celebrate Their Successes with Them
Always recognize your friend or family member’s successes and milestones as they struggle to stay smoke free. Not smoking for a day, a week, or a year are reasons to celebrate and recognize their hard work. Other things to celebrate include getting rid of all the ashtrays in their home, removing anything that reminds them of cigarettes, and not having an after-dinner smoke. Some celebration activities and fun ideas include:
- Sending a congratulatory card or flowers
- Surprise tickets to a show or concert
- A gift card from their favorite store
- Cook them dinner
Complimenting them on their effort will go a long way toward boosting their morale and encouraging them to stay the course.
Help Them Relieve Their Stress
People trying to stop smoking are under a lot of stress. Unfortunately, for most of them, the standard response to stressful situations has been to light up. You can help break this cycle by helping them find better ways to handle stress. If you notice that your loved one is stressed out, you could suggest one of the smoke free activities below to them to help them relax:
- Closing their eyes and taking slow, deep breaths for a few minutes
- Playing with a pet
- Going for a walk
- Try yoga
- Take a bath or a long shower
- Do a crossword or Sudoku puzzle
- Do a fun DIY project at home
- Take a nap
It is important to understand that the challenges that face a smoker do not end when they put down their pipe or their last cigarette. Cravings can suddenly pop up several weeks or months later. In fact, it is very common for people to start smoking within three months of quitting. What is most important for your friend or family member to know is that they will always have your support. That may be all they need to ensure they quit for good!