Quitting smoking is a challenge. When someone decides to take this important but difficult step they will need all the reinforcements they can get. It may not easy helping someone you care about through this difficult time.
Always remember that the quitter is the one going through the hardships of abstinence – they are literally experiencing withdrawal symptoms from a powerful drug, and fighting the urge to use it again. Here are some things to bear in mind when helping your loved ones cope with withdrawal, irritation and cravings.
The Dos and Don’ts of Supporting Your Quitter:
Do believe they can succeed and assure them of that.
Do what you can to for them. See if they’d like you to check up on them along the way.
Do ask them how they’re feeling instead of just focusing on whether or not they have had a cigarette.
Do encourage them to talk to you whenever they need help or support.
Do reward their progress and celebrate success and milestones along the way.
Do supply the quitter with anything that can take their mind off of the craving such as chewing gum, carrots or toothpicks to chew on.
Do remove all ashtrays, lighters and other smoking paraphernalia from your home and make your home smoke free.
Do stay patient and empathetic. Try to understand what the quitter is going through.
Do listen to what they have to say.
Do offer distractions to keep their mind off cigarettes. Designate time for fun activities as rewards of their progress.
Don’t discourage them. No matter how hard it gets never tell them that they were easier to deal with when they smoked.
Don’t be judgmental, nag, shout or lecture. The worse you make them feel the more likely they are to lose control of the addiction.
Don’t constantly ask them if they’ve smoked today.
Don’t get mad at them when they’re experiencing irritability or anxiety. Remember, those are only temporary side effects. Appreciate that they are difficult to cope with and assure the quitter that they will pass.
Don’t be surprised if their appetite increases during withdrawal. Try to make sure you have healthy snacks in case they get hungry.
Don’t suggest that going back to smoking would be easier for them.
Don’t ever offer the quitter a puff or a cigarette. The goal is to stop smoking altogether.
Don’t let them forget why they’ve decided to quit.
How to Smoke Around Your Quitter
If you continue to smoke yourself around someone who’s trying to quit do it outside of the house where the quitter won’t be able to see you. Keep your cigarettes and lighters out of sight and avoid being a trigger for their cravings. Don’t offer them tobacco. One puff is one too many. If possible, you should consider quitting together.
It will be a positive life change for both of you, and the support and camaraderie of going through hardships together will not only make quitting easier, but can strengthen your relationship.
It is quite common for people who try to quit smoking to slip and smoke a cigarette at one point or another. Remember, not all is lost. The path to shaking an addiction can be difficult and winding. If this does happen, you should tell them that they can still quit and remind them of all the progress they’ve already made. Focus on their accomplishments and not their failures.
Remind them of why they decided to quit in the first place. Don’t make them feel bad about their slip – they’re likely already feeling very guilty. Instead, assure them that you support them unconditionally and will help them succeed in quitting, even if there are some challenges along the way.
In Case of a Relapse
For most people it takes several attempts to finally succeed at quitting tobacco. This is normal. If one of your loved ones takes up smoking again, remind them that this is only a temporary setback on the way to success. Be ready to be there for them when (not if) they try to quit again. Encourage them to learn from their mistakes and to strive to do better next time.