What you can do to help a quitter
If a friend or family member is still smoking but wants to quit, the best thing you can offer is your support. To begin, let him or her know that you are optimistic about their chance of succeeding and congratulate them on their attempt. And then consider the following approaches:
- If you're not in the same household, encourage the quitter to call you at any time he or she gets the urge to smoke. Remind the individual of the reasons why he or she chose to quit smoking and that while the urge will diminish, those important reasons remain the same. Being a personal "hot line" can take some commitment but helping someone in any way to quit smoking is one of the best gifts you will ever be able to offer.
- Avoid serving the quitter alcohol or spending time in places where it's readily available. Drinking is a classic "trigger" for many people who are trying to quit smoking (because the two behaviors often went together and have served to "complement" each other with regards to brain and body chemistry) and has been related to quite a few relapses.
- Help your family member or friend manage stress by joining him or her in an activity like walking. Not only does it provide some good exercise and stress management, but it's another opportunity to talk and voice your support.
- When there's a milestone – and the person trying to quit can be the judge of that – celebrate it together. It's a good time to indulge in something a little special, but preferably not a drink!
- Statistics and most experience with a highly addictive substance indicate that the majority of people take multiple attempts at quitting before they're successful, so be patient.
- Grow a thick skin! The person close to you who's trying to quit is likely to be grumpy, agitated and sometimes even downright hostile. Don't take it personally. It's all part of the process and your ability to get through it and keep smiling is part of what makes your support so important.
Probably the most important thing you need to keep in mind is to remember your limitations. You can be part of a support system but you can't make a nobody quit smoking. Your encouragement is only part of the whole equation.
And if the quitter in your life turns to smoking again, don't express disappointment. And please don't see it as any failure on your part. Guilt has never been a very healthy way to get healthier.
Instead, dial up your optimism again and help your friend or family member start thinking about trying to quit again. Beginning again at square one is a familiar place for many people who are hoping to quit smoking. And for the people supporting them. It's always tough to feel like you're starting over again. But when it comes to smoking – or better, smoking cessation – it's definitely worth the effort.
Return to Newsletter Home